Ariel Sharon was the ultimate decider

The former Israeli military leader and PM was never afraid to be bold

Sebastian Scheiner/AP

“A renowned military leader, Mr. Sharon pursued the security of Israel with unyielding determination that was recognized by friends and foes alike.” —Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the death of former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon

Ariel Sharon was divisive, even in death. The world found its words to either mourn or dismiss the former Israeli military leader and prime minister, who died on Jan. 11. He was lauded and feared and hated and respected for relentlessly aggressive battlefield maneuvering and incredibly risky political calculations. Of one thing, everyone agrees. Sharon was never afraid to make a decision.

The New York Times tracked down an Israeli mourner who valued that apparently rare trait above all else. “He was a person that once he decided, he carried it out—decide and execute,” said 68-year-old Shlomo Shapira, who’s just barely older than Israel. “Today, we have people who don’t decide and don’t execute.” Well, then. So long as he was decisive, no further questions. Deciders are deciders.

David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, praised that innate ability to make a tough call. “Ariel Sharon is one of the most significant figures in Israeli history and, as prime minister, he took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace,” said Cameron. Ask a Palestinian about that pursuit of peace, and you might find a skeptic, given Sharon’s nicknames, which included The Butcher and The Bulldozer. But even his enemies are said to have respected that ability not to waver when a choice was clear.

Sharon’s penchant for the decision didn’t only inflame tensions with Israel’s neighbours. When he withdrew Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip in 2005, one of his trademark tough decisions, Sharon angered plenty of Israel’s defenders. Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, is a case in point. He resents that withdrawal, and his case is pretty simple. “[Sharon's] miscalculation has resulted in almost daily rocket attacks on Israeli civilians in the south and emboldened those who seek to destroy the State of Israel,” Dimant told the National Post. Fair opinion.

Sharon was reduced to a coma when he suffered two strokes in quick succession at the end of 2005 and early 2006. At the time, he was favoured to win re-election and, possibly, move further towards peace with the Palestinians. Matthew Fisher, writing for Postmedia, says it’s impossible to know what might have come of another term in office. “What is certain is that Israel would be much different today than it is now,” he wrote. Such is the legacy of a man who never feared a decision.

ABOVE THE FOLD

Globe: Stephen Harper is leading a large delegation on his upcoming trip to Israel.

Post: Israel mourns Ariel Sharon, a former military leader turned prime minister.

Star: Toronto Hydro’s emergency response was overwhelmed during the recent ice storm.

Citizen: The feds are reviewing the public service with an eye to restructuring the executive ranks.

CBC: A disabled Calgary man may owe the United States substantial amounts of tax.

CTV: The World Health Organization says bird flu likely won’t spread in Canada.

NNW: Gerald Butts and Katie Telford are behind the Liberals’ rise to the top of the polls.

MOSTLY MISSED

Near: The Bloc Quebecois will choose a new leader in May to replace Daniel Paillé.

Far: A Nigerian fighter jet mistakenly bombed Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume‘s convoy, but no one was hurt.




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