This was a strange day in Israel. Today we parted with one of the last living members of the founding generation of our State. Someone posted how Ariel Sharon's funeral is a bracing reminder of how few from that generation are left. By my count, there is only one leader left who has any tie to the founding generation, and that, of course is President Shimon Peres.
Sharon's funeral had many surreal aspects to it. First, of course, is that in reality, Sharon has been gone for eight years. That is how long he had been in a coma. Though despite having been in a coma for the better part of a decade, Sharon's larger than life personality never let him slip from Israel’s consciousness. His absolute pragmatism– over and above any ideology– managed to infuriate both right and left over the course of his career. It also confused almost everyone on how they really felt about him.
It will be up to history to render the ultimate judgement on Sharon. However, one word kept on appearing in every article and every eulogy: "Bulldozer". Arik Sharon was a bulldozer. He never let anything stand in the way of achieving a goal. Sometimes, there was collateral damage. Though when he was in charge of a project, you knew it would get done.
A number of other ironies came to light at today's funeral– among them, the fact the IDF had to mount a major military operation to protect the grave site from an attack from Gaza– the same Gaza Sharon effectively passified in the early 70’s, and the same Gaza he pulled our forces out from during his term as Prime Minister.
Today was also the day that an agreement was announced to implement the interim agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. I am not upset at the agreement. I recognize that this was the best interim agreement that could be reached. Furthermore, if the program was not put on hiatus the only choice would have been a U.S. military attack, (an offensive in which I am not sure President Obama would engage.) Obama stated that he believes there is only a 50% chance of achieving a permanent agreement with Iran. I believe the actual chances are less. That being said, we might as well give it a chance.
Lastly, to show how cynical Israeli politicians are, on Friday Yair Lapid posted on Facebook that the Chief Rabbis should be fired for calling on Israeli girls not to serve in the army. Lapid's post got a limited amount of press. Later on, Minister of Education, Shai Piron (who is from Lapid's party and is himself an Orthodox rabbi) stated that Orthodox girls should do National service, instead of serving in the army. I am sure that it is not in Lapid's political interest at the moment to provoke a coalition crisis over the actions of the Chief Rabbis. However, if he was not willing to follow through, he should not post Facebook missives on the subject.