January 11, 2014 –
New York – AJC mourns the death of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
“With the passing of
Ariel Sharon, a defining chapter in Israel’s history goes with him,” said David
Harris, executive director of AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization. “He
was a man of towering strength, uncompromising commitment, steely
determination, and creative vision.”
The full AJC
statement on the passing of Ariel Sharon, at age 85, follows:
AJC mourns the death
of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
He was a man of
towering strength, uncompromising commitment, steely determination, and
He was among the
giants of Israel’s founding generation. Against all the odds, they established
the democratic state, defended it against those who sought its destruction, and
participated in its remarkable growth and development over the last nearly six
Sharon loved the
land, both literally and figuratively. Never happier than when he was on his
farm, he was a devoted son of the Jewish people who cherished the return to the
land of their biblical roots.
While he fully
understood the importance of military strength and strategic acumen to ensure
Israel’s security in a turbulent region, he also displayed a political
pragmatism that surprised his external and domestic critics. His withdrawal of
all Israeli settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 was one telling example.
Despite his earlier support of their presence, he concluded that Israel’s long-term
security goals could best be met by their removal. In doing so, he changed
Israel’s political map and, not for the first time, outmaneuvered his
And while he was long
viewed as a “hard-liner” by his critics, as prime minister he spoke of a
two-state solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, a goal that
tragically proved unachievable because of the Palestinian failure to seize
Israel’s outstretched hand. He also devoted considerable attention, over many
years, to relations with Jordan and developed close personal ties with its
leaders, as he did with several other Arab rulers.
AJC had many fruitful
exchanges with Ariel Sharon, both in his capacity as prime minister and in his
many previous government posts. On a personal level, he was always warm and
welcoming. On a professional level, he was always engaged, passionate and
focused on the challenges of the day.
With his passing, a
defining chapter in Israel’s history goes with him. We shall miss him. We
extend our heartfelt condolences to his grieving family and to the nation to
which he devoted his entire life.