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ISRAEL - Israel reports

SHARON


The history of Ariel Sharon and the history of Israel could not be more intertwined. Sharon was present at the birth of a nation, when he commanded an infantry company in the 1948 War of Independence. Each time Israel was threatened with extinction, Ariel Sharon rose to defend her.

B'nai B'rith is deeply saddened by the passing of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who died Jan. 11, eight years after suffering a stroke on Jan. 4, 2006.

"Israel lost a unique and unusual leader who demonstrated the ability to change his way of thinking and seeking out new paths," B'nai B'rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. "He was a brave and fearless soldier, a wise and brilliant leader, who left a lasting impact on Israel."

"He lived the Zionist dream as farmer, soldier and statesman, always mindful of the tremendous responsibilities cast his way on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table," B'nai B'rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said.

Sharon's career in politics began when he was first elected to the Knesset in 1973. He was defense minister in 1981 and foreign minister in 1998. In September 1999 he was elected chairman of the Likud party and in 2001 he was elected prime minister.

B'nai B'rith Europe sends its deepest condolences to his family, and to the people of Israel.

Citation by Ariel Sharon

"It had always been one of my convictions that Jews and Arabs could live together. Even as a child it never occurred to me that Jews might someday be living in Israel without Arabs, or separated from Arabs. On the contrary, for me it had always seemed perfectly normal for the two people to live and work side by side. That is the nature of life here and it always will be.... though Israel is a Jewish nation, it is, of course, not only a Jewish nation... I begin with the basic conviction that Jews and Arabs can live together. I have repeated that at every opportunity, not for journalists and not for popular consumption, but because I have never believed differently or thought differently, from my childhood on. I am not afraid of Arabs. I feel I can live with them. I believe I understand their problems. I know that we are both inhabitants of this land, and although the state is Jewish, that does not mean that Arabs should not be full citizens in every sense of the word."
Source Wikiiquote