Ariel Sharon (RIP): Hero or Butcher?

Ariel Sharon, by Jim Wallace (Smithsonian Institution)Israeli politician Ariel Sharon has died. CNN asks what his legacy should be: hero or butcher?

Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister who died Saturday at age 85, made a name for himself as a military and political leader who put Israel’s security above all else.

It was a position that earned the controversial figure the nickname “the bulldozer” as a fearless leader who got things done.

To many Israelis, he was a hero. To some in the Arab world, he was a killer.

Here are five things to know about Sharon:

Some saw him as a war hero: Sharon, who rose through the ranks of the Israeli Defense Forces, first gained hero status among Israelis during the 1967 Six-Day War that saw Israel attack Egypt, Jordan and Syria to counter what they saw as an impending attack by the Arab nations.

Under Sharon’s command, Israeli troops routed Egyptian forces during a nighttime battle to capture Um Cataf, a crucial crossroads in the Sinai. That victory is considered a major factor in Egypt’s loss of the Sinai to Israel.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Sharon earned the nickname “The Lion of God” among Israelis for surrounding Egypt’s Third Army and, defying orders, leading 200 tanks and 5,000 men across the Suez Canal — roughly 100 miles from Cairo.

Others accused him of war crimes: During the Lebanon war in 1982, Sharon — a former army general then serving as Israeli defense minister — was held indirectly responsible by an Israeli inquiry in the 1983 massacre of Palestinians by a Lebanese Christian military at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

The inquiry — which led to Sharon’s prompt resignation — found he did nothing to stop Christian militiamen allied with Israel from entering the camps, despite fears they might seek to avenge the killing of their leader the previous day.

Many in the Arab world dubbed Sharon “the Butcher of Beirut,” and Palestinians attempted to bring war crimes charges against him in European courts…

[continues at CNN]

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  • American Cannibal

    How about we call him a heroic butcher, like Westmoreland or Le May.

  • Aungsan

    Butcher, war criminal.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    You know what I love best about you earthlings? The joy with which you embrace the vilest aspects of your history. Like dogs rolling around in their own sh*t and acting like it was perfume.

  • Ted Heistman

    I think after Israel started kicking everybody’s ass in war’s and stockpliling nukes, and putting Palestinians in ghettoes, people stopped thinking of them as the underdog, so now they get the same kind of resentments people have for the US, or whoever the dominant global power happens to be. They went from the Oppressed to the Oppressor. Sharon just kind of epitomizes this.

  • Toggle Switch

    …..hmmm….i thought he was dead…..hey….two celebrations :P

  • Alan Morse Davies

    Sandwich lover or covert hairdresser? Only one of these can be true. I’m not a fan based on what I’ve heard about the man but this argument is framed in purple and taupe as if they were black and white, it’s false in its very nature. Poor news, you’ve come so very low.

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