In This Review

Arik: The Life of Ariel Sharon
Arik: The Life of Ariel Sharon
By David Landau
Knopf, 2014, 656 pp

No former editor in chief of the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz would likely be kind to Ariel Sharon, the recently deceased Israeli leader, and Landau is not. He starts gently, rehearsing Sharon’s heroic military exploits as an architect of Israel’s victory over the Arabs in the Six-Day War in 1967 and as the savior of the flat-footed Israel Defense Forces in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Landau proceeds, though, to skewer Sharon as a self-aggrandizing “King of Israel” who conflated the elevation of his own status with the defense of the nation. On two of the most controversial events in Sharon’s career -- his role in the massacre of Palestinian refugees at the hands of Lebanese Christian militias in the Sabra and Shatila camps in Beirut in 1982 and his provocative visit to Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem in 2000, which helped trigger the second intifada -- Landau finds Sharon guilty of the charges leveled by his fiercest critics. But Landau believes that once Sharon became prime minister, in 2001, his statesman’s instincts took over, and a “monumental transformation” led Sharon, who had played a major role in establishing Israel’s settlements, to order the unilateral evacuation of settlers from Gaza.