Israel’s “Warrior” has fought his last battle: My take on the life and times of Ariel Sharon.

nationalreview-graphicarielsharon-wailingwall(Washington, D.C.) — On Saturday, the editor of National Review emailed to ask if I’d like to submit an article looking back at the life of Ariel Sharon. I was honored to do so. It was published Sunday evening.



By Joel C. Rosenberg

When Ariel Sharon published his memoirs, he titled the 592-page volume “Warrior.” He could not have chosen a more apt descriptor.

That’s how he saw himself. That’s how every Israeli saw him. That’s how every Arab saw him, and every world leader, too. Love him or hate him — and few Israelis have provoked more controversy — everyone knew the man was, at his core, a fighter.

At only 14, Sharon joined a group of Jewish guerillas to attack British forces and try to drive them out of Mandated Palestine.

From there, Sharon went on to either fight directly in, or oversee in a senior capacity — as a general, as defense minister, and ultimately as Israel’s eleventh prime minister — every single war the modern state of Israel engaged in from the War of Independence in 1948 onwards for the next six decades.

The native-born Israeli didn’t simply engage on the military battlefield, however. He also waged epic diplomatic, political, legal, and media battles that are the stuff of legend.

He sued Time magazine. He built settlements in the West Bank. He gave away Gaza. He blew up his own political party as a sitting prime minister, and created a new one. He was always picking a fight. Sometimes he was right. Sometimes he was disastrously wrong. And he seemed to relish it all.

But on Saturday, the warrior’s final battle ended.

At the age of 85, Sharon passed away at 1:55 p.m. local time, while close family and friends gathered around his bedside to say their farewells.

A funeral will be held on Monday. Israel’s top leadership will attend the memorial service, as will Vice President Joe Biden, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, and former British prime minister Tony Blair, among other world leaders.

Now the war to define him and his legacy will begin.

“The state of Israel bows its head over the passing of former prime minister Ariel Sharon,” said current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a long-time rival, in a warm and generous statement. “His memory will forever be held in the heart of the nation . . . . Sharon played a central role in the struggle for Israel’s security throughout its existence. He was, first and foremost, a courageous fighter and a distinguished general, one of the greatest commanders the IDF has ever known.”

The Arab-Israeli Wars

Born near Tel Aviv on February 26, 1928, Sharon was…..

[To read the rest of the column on the NRO site — with more detail on some of the key battles Sharon fought, including his decision to give away Gaza for nothing — please click here.]

[Note: Sharon’s memoirs were originally published in 1989, then re-released in the fall of 2001, not long after he had become Israel’s eleventh prime minister.]