Ariel Sharon Dead at 85
Former Israeli prime minister had been in coma for years
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 11, 2014 6:48 AM CST
Ariel Sharon in 2005.   (Oded Bality)

(Newser) – Ariel Sharon, the hard-charging Israeli general and prime minister who was admired and hated for his battlefield exploits and ambitions to reshape the Middle East, died today, eight years after a stroke left him in a coma from which he never awoke. He was 85. As one of Israel's most famous soldiers, Sharon was known for bold tactics and an occasional refusal to obey orders. As a politician he became known as "the bulldozer," a man contemptuous of his critics while also capable of getting things done.

He led his country into a divisive war in Lebanon in 1982 and was branded as indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps outside Beirut when his troops allowed allied Lebanese militias into the camps. Yet ultimately he transformed himself into a prime minister and statesman. The life and career of the man Israelis called "Arik" will be remembered for its three distinct stages: his eventful and controversial time in uniform, his years as a vociferous political operator who helped create Israel's settlement movement and mastermind of the Lebanon invasion, then his successful term as a pragmatist prime minister, capped by a dramatic withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and curtailed at the height of his popularity by his sudden stroke.

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Tengu ?? Slayer of Vanity
Jan 11, 2014 8:47 PM CST
Sabra and Shatila massacres in 1982 were Lebanese Christians killing Lebanese Shiites and Palestinian Muslims in retaliation for the assassination of the Lebanese president during their civil war. Somehow the world blames Ariel Sharon more for not stopping it. It's not clear that he could have prevented this tragedy or that he was aware of its extent.
Jan 11, 2014 8:32 PM CST
Funny how you keep calling him a "zealot." At the end of his wakeful life, he finally came to his senses, withdrew from Gaza, said the only future for Israel would be the creation of a Palestinian state, and would have withdrawn from the West Bank if he hadn't been stricken. Those actions might not have atoned for his past but they at least would have created a better future for us all. "Zealot" is a funny word because in the end it was the "zealot" ayatollah-rabbis who were praying for his death, calling him a traitor to Israel. The fact that their prayers were answered is, like the assassination of Rabin, something I still find impossible to come to terms with.
Jan 11, 2014 7:53 PM CST
I am white, elderly and Jewish. I do not agree with my ex friend's wife whose quotes include: "Israel is the most technologically advanced nation on earth", "Jews eat at weddings; Christians drink at weddings" and "the entire world owes its safety to Israel." PEACE NOW. PEACE NOW. PEACE NOW.