By Dani DAYAN, Chief Foreign Envoy of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria.
In the summer of 2005, we swore to never forgot what happened in Gush Katif and Northern Samaria, close to 10,000 Israelis uprooted in one, unimaginable sweep by Ariel Sharon, a move which caused immeasurable moral, human, security and political damage to Israel.
We can never forget, because first and foremost, we must make sure we learned our lesson and won’t make the same mistake twice. At least once a week, I am reminded of, or remind others of, the disengagement.
However, this week I am making an exception. This week, all of Israel mourns the loss of Ariel Sharon.
This week, I am remembering Ariel Sharon, the greatest Jewish military leader since the Maccabees. How he commanded the fateful battle for Latrun. A military leader who led the campaign at Sinai’s Um-Katef, crossing the Suez Canal and determining the outcome of the Yom Kippur War.
This week, I am remembering the Sharon who laid the foundations for new towns throughout the Land of Israel, in Samaria and in the Galilee, in Judea and the Negev, along the coastal plain and in the Sharon region, transforming the entire country’s landscape forever.
This week, I am remembering the Ariel Sharon who mocked his detractors, those who said he would never win the battle against terror by military force. The Prime Minister that gave the order to launch Operation Defensive Shield; saving thousands of lives. That’s the Arik I am remembering this week.
I certainly looked up to him. The Yom Kippur War, his decision to join the nationalist camp, the great drive he led in the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise (which ended up becoming my physical and ideological home) — all of these things made me feel closer to Arik.
On this day, I won’t think back to summer 2005. I’m putting those memories away for now. On this day, I want to shed a pure crystal clear tear, to grieve together with all of Israel at the loss of an Israeli, Jewish, Zionist leader who did so much for the State of Israel and the Jewish nation. Ariel Sharon, of blessed memory.