I was privileged to receive an advanced copy of a lengthy profile of PM Ariel Sharon that is scheduled to appear in the Forward tomorrow by David Chanoff, Sharon's ghostwriter on "Warrior." It is less about Sharon's politics than his motivations and ideology. Here are some excerpts.
Latrun was not Sharon’s only Independence War disaster. “By the age of 20,” he told me, “most of my friends were dead.” Unlike some Israeli commanders, he never denigrated the Arabs’ fighting qualities, even objecting pointedly when retired British field marshal Bernard Law Montgomery characterized them as “10 minute fighters” during a lecture in 1957 at Great Britain’s staff college, where Sharon was then studying. He didn’t think so, Sharon told Montgomery. He knew better.
But Sharon’s formative experiences had little to do with this notion of Israeli power. Victory in 1948 left him depressed and anxious, brooding over losses and beset by nightmares. That deep-seated sense of Israel’s vulnerability never left him until the moment of his collapse. Nor did his belief that the task of his generation was to break the mindset that Israel had no business existing and should be stamped out.
The fact that a people so damned by Allah might recreate itself, lay claim to Islam’s third holiest city and defeat Arab armies time and again is for many devout Muslims an intolerable assault on faith. Arab enmity, from this perspective, is not just the anger of an injured people. It is a hatred rooted in religion, a historic determination not to let faith be defeated, like the hatred and contempt felt by Crusaders for Muslims who controlled what they felt to be the Christian holy land.