“Prime Minister of the Jewish People”

February 13, 2014 by Henry Benjamin
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Sydney’s Central Synagogue set the scene for a special Shloshim service for the late Ariel Sharon…a former Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

David Balkin

David Balkin

President of the Zionist Council of NSW Richard Balkin said that Sharon was a man who stood “for what he believed in”. He described Sharon as ruthless when he had to be and a gifted and a fearless warrior and as a man who  “played one of the most vital and most controversial roles in Israel’s military and political history.” Balkin made reference to Sharon’s performance in the 1973 Yom Kippur War when he cut off the Egyptian 3rd army in a surprise attack crossing the Suez Canal.

Meir Buber, on an official visit to Sydney on behalf of the Tel Aviv University, was a senior economic adviser to Ariel Sharon.

He recounted his personal experience with Ariel Sharon. He said that everyone called him Arik except his eldest son who preferred Ariel to Aba and Arik.

He said that Sharon had a tremendous sense of humour saying “he made me laugh more than any other person I have met”.  Buber served as an advisor for three months when Sharon was Minister for Trade and thee was also a relationship when Buber served in the Israeli Navy when Sharon was Minister of Defence,

Meir Buber

Meir Buber

Buber said: “My first meeting with him was in the early 70s wham I was a naval officer in the Gaza Strip and Arik was commander of the Southern Command. He was a very sophisticated officer. We had a lot of trouble at that time with the Fatah organisation and we had to identify the members and commanders of that organisation. Arik came up with the idea that some Israeli soldiers would pose as terrorists. They were landed near Gaza City from the sea in rubber dinghies. They headed for Gaza City.Israeli soldiers chased them. The plan was that doors would open to give them somewhere to hide thereby identifying Fatah sympathisers  or members.”

This according to Buber was a classic example of the thinking of Sharon the General. He said that Sharon was one of the great Jewish generals in history, citing Australian General John Monash as another.

Arik Sharon’s battle plans formed part of the military education taught at West Point in the USA and the Ecole de Guerre in France according to Buber.

Although an economic adviser, Buber accompanied Sharon when he was involved in political negotiations and said that he used some of his military techniques. Although not a religious man, Sharon was politically generous to the orthodox. Buber said: “He told me ‘I am not only the Prime Minister of Israel…I am also the Prime Minister of the Jewish people’.”

Buber told a story of how a business man criticised Sharon for supporting the Kibbutzim pointing out the political and ideological differences. Buber said: “Arik called me over and asked the businessman to repeat the question. And he answered him by telling him to visit a specific Kibbutz and to go to its cemetery and to visit the military section of the cemetery. Then, he told the man, come back and see me and ask me again why I support the Kibbutzim”.

Buber said there are three main points in the legacy of Ariel Sharon. “One is be strong. Second…keep thinking of solutions in any area and the third remain Jews.”

Dr Ron Weiser

Dr Ron Weiser

Dr Ron Weiser met Arik Sharon a few times. The former president of  the Zionist Federation of Australia told the audience that he did not meet him when he was a soldier. “By the time I met him soon after he was elected as a Prime Minister, it was difficult to reconcile his appearance with that of a great warrior.”

He said that Sharon shared a goal with other political leaders…a place where the Jewish people would decide their own destiny…to have their own State.”

Weiser said that Sharon told him that only those wha had lived before the establishment of the State of Israel could really appreciate what it meant.

He described Sharon as being “charming…he had a cheeky smile and he exuded charisma which was not apparent on television.”

Weiser said that at each meeting “he questioned us and asked us why we had personally not made Aliya and when we untended us to do so”.

“At my last meeting with him I expected to be roundly praised as Australia had the highest number per capita of participants in the MASA movement. I was prematurely basking in the glow  that would surely come. Instead he told me off.  He said that coming from a great community like Australia the number of participants was really quite low and could be improved and asked me if I was spending enough time on the project.”

He said “Ariel Sharon was indeed a true hero and a leader of Israel and the Jewish people. He should be remembered from generation to generation.”

Comments

One Response to ““Prime Minister of the Jewish People””
  1. One should not speak ill of the dead and there is a case for this in speaking about Ariel Sharon.
    There is no question that Ariel Sharon was undoubtedly a valiant soldier and his tactics saved Israel many times.
    But the two things I remember about him, and I hope someone can correct me, and that is was he not the Commander when the Christian Lebanese murdered men women and children Shitila? I know I wrote a letter at that time to the Israeli Embassy expressing my sadness and horror, which obviously was ignored.
    Then of course, there is the undoubtedly provocative visit to the Dome of the Rock, which possibly started the lst Intifada. Since which time the ongoing “war” between Arab and Jew has gone from bad to worse, with so many men, woman and children dying.
    When news came that he had had a stroke, on a human level it was a tragedy that such a powerful man had been struck down so cruelly, and thus he lingered for years until his recent death.
    Who can judge this man fairly, sadly I cannot, but to eulogise him to the extent that is now current, I feel personally that it is not justified. Unlike the mourning of Golda Meir and Ben Gurion, who were giants in Israel when she needed them the most.

    True leaders who displayed leadership and foresight, but with a tough and fair streak as far as the Arabs were concerned. I do not like Netanyahu’s right wing politics. He maybe strong, but he is also not thinking about the future because he would know that eventually as with Begin, who fought the British at the time of the Mandate, retaliation does not win and I think it was Churchill who said, “talk talk is better than war, war”

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