Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died Saturday Jan. 11, 2014 after eight years in a stroke-induced coma. He was Israel’s 11th prime minister and one of its most famous generals. I had known Ariel Sharon for over 30 years.
Sharon was considered one of the greatest field commanders and military strategists in Israel’s history. His military career was renowned. At the age of 20, he was left wounded on a wadi beneath a monastery while fighting for Israel’s independence in 1948. He was instrumental in creating the most elite Special Forces group in the nation’s history. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his brothers, Jonathan and Iddo, served in the unit. Jonathan was killed leading the unit in the daring raid in Entebbe, Uganda to free Jewish hostages on July 4, 1976.
Sharon became most famous during the Six Day War in 1967 while directing Israel’s first night battle. His assault in the Sinai during that war was legendary, and his encirclement of the Egyptian Third Army during the Yom Kippur War was fabled. Since that time, military academies worldwide have taught of Ariel Sharon’s military strategies.
Former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon died over the weekend after an eight-year coma. Photo Credit: www.usatoday.com
Israel’s conservative government, the Likud, was Sharon’s inspiration as well as was the founding of the Kadima party. No Israeli has built more towns than Ariel Sharon. When world leaders were deceived by the Nobel Prize-winning millionaire terrorist, Yasser Arafat, Sharon courageously stood up to him, refused to play the game, and drew a line in the sand.
I remember it well as Sharon and I had a discussion concerning Arafat. He told me that Arafat was secretly funding terror attacks that were killing and maiming Jews across Israel. At the same time, Arafat had claimed to be against terrorism. Sharon said, “He wants to visit Bethlehem on Christmas so he can have another opportunity to deceive the world. I am not going to allow him to do that no matter who complains.”
The first time I met Sharon was in 1981. He had just been appointed Minister of Defense for Prime Minister Menachem Begin. I had invited a dozen Christian leaders, godly men and women, to join me in a meeting with the prime minister. One was General Charles Duke, the former astronaut from Apollo XVI. We had an amazing prayer meeting with the prime minister—as he and I generally did when I visited him.
As we walked out of his office, General Sharon was standing at the door listening to the prayers being offered. General Duke, his eyes bulging, turned to General Sharon and said, “So what can we pray with you about?”
Sharon looked at Charlie Duke and said, “I have a toothache.” At that we all laid hands on the general and prayed for his toothache.
Over the years, I had dozens of meetings with Prime Minister Sharon as he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Energy and Water Resources, Minister of Housing and Construction, Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labour.
Before he was elected prime minister, then-Governor George W. Bush visited Israel. Ariel Sharon accompanied him on a helicopter tour of the country. President Bush, a very committed believer loved every moment of the trip and referred to Israel as the “Bible Land where prayers are answered.”
December 1969 Portrait Of Israeli General Ariel Sharon, Head Of The Southern Command Of The Israeli Army. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Ariel Sharon, who had a great sense of humor, said to the future president, “You know, it’s true. This is the Bible Land where prayers are answered. Who knows; you might have yours answered here and become President of the United States someday; but I don’t think mine will be answered and I will become prime minister.”
The prayers of both men were answered and Ariel Sharon and George Bush became close friends. President Bush hosted him at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, and served him cookies decorated with the Star of David.
While Sharon was prime minister, I was asked by the Fox News Network if I could help arrange an interview with him because of my relationship with him. I asked Prime Minister about doing the interview, and he said, “No, I’m way too fat to do interviews. They will only stare at my big belly, not listening to what I have to say.”
I said to him, knowing how much he loved his ranch and his sheep, “What if you do the interview at your ranch, standing near the sheep. There is no possibility they will stare at your belly; there will be too many sheep.” He agreed to it, and that may have been the worst interview ever by Fox News. Baas of the sheep could be here in the background.
My last private meeting with Prime Minister Sharon was in Washington, DC with Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon and a dozen other Evangelical leaders including Pat Robertson and John Hagee. I said to the prime minister, “Sir, all prime ministers think about their legacy. I would like to ask you about your eternal legacy.”
He looked at Danny Ayalon and said, “You never briefed me on this question. What is an eternal legacy?”
I answered, “Mr. Prime Minister, it is the legacy you present to Hashem, the Lord, when you are in His presence. What legacy are you preparing to present to Him?”
He answered, “This is an excellent question that I cannot answer today. I want you to meet with me on your next trip to Jerusalem, and I’ll answer the question.”
Unfortunately, my beloved friend, Ariel Sharon had the massive stroke that felled him before we could meet again. He was never able to answer my question.
I would like you to send a short message of condolence to his family on my Facebook page. I will present them personally to them when I return to Israel. Simply thank them for their father’s service, and let them know you are praying for them.
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