Most of us probably haven't thought about former Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon for years. If ever. You may not even remember him at all if you were born after 1990. Who was this man that everyone is talking about today on the morning of his death at 85, eight years after falling into a coma from a stroke?
This is not the place for a complete history of the man. You can go to places like CNN or YouTube for many Ariel Sharon biographies. It would take 20 blog posts to even touch the surface of who he was. But if you grew up in the 70s, 80s or 90s, you probably have at least some inkling whether you followed politics or not. This is a name that you saw in the newspapers and on the evening news all the time. When I remember Ariel Sharon, and all that he has done for his country and his people, what I think about is: "Don't mess with Ariel Sharon, and don't mess with Israel."
Of course, not everyone will remember him this way. He was an incredibly polarizing figure -- albeit one with great sense of humor who knew how to play to the cameras and recorders. Today, wherever you look on the web, you will find lots of spicy and controversial quotes and discussions about him, some hailing him as a hero, some calling him a butcher.
No one could paint a picture of the man we remember today as well as Sharon himself. Here are five quotes that paint a picture of the man everyone is talking about:
On his view of the Middle East:
"Iran, Libya and Syria are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons of mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve."
“Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches.”
On the the Jewish People:
As a Jew, it is my historic responsibility to defend the Jewish people. I feel this responsibility for the survival of the Jewish people. We're not going to accept any decision by anybody else about security of the State of Israel. It is our role and only our role."
"If we [are to] reach a situation of true peace, real peace, peace for generations, we will have to make painful concessions. Not in exchange for promises, but rather in exchange for peace."
"It had always been one of my convictions that Jews and Arabs could live together. Even as a child it never occurred to me that Jews might someday be living in Israel without Arabs, or separated from Arabs."
How do you remember Ariel Sharon? As a peace-maker or a war monger?
Image via israelidag/YouTube