Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement in response to the death of former Israeli Prime Minister and General Ariel Sharon:
"The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) mourns the loss of former Israeli Prime Minister and General Ariel Sharon today.
"Ariel Sharon was a leader from the founders’ generation of Israel who dedicated his life to the security of his country. His career in the military was marked by major achievements, most importantly turning the tide of battle in the Sinai against invading Egyptian forces during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The amphibious assault into Egypt and placement of Israeli positions on the west side of the Suez Canal led to the first direct negotiations between Israeli and Egyptian military commanders and the disengagement of forces. This, in turn, ultimately led to the visit of Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat to Jerusalem and the eventual peace treaty between Israel and Egypt – the first between Israel and one of her neighbors.
"Ariel Sharon had a distinctive capacity to think strategically and to adjust his course based on changing circumstances. As Prime Minister, he led the unilateral disengagement from Gaza in 2005, which resulted in the uprooting of some 10,000 Israeli citizens. By taking such a bold initiative, Prime Minister Sharon demonstrated an understanding, embraced by many other Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, that the Jewish state’s long term security and the health of its democracy ultimately depends on reaching peace with the Palestinians based on territorial compromise and the creation of two states for two peoples.
"According to The Israel Project, ‘Sharon’s decades-spanning career was marked by periods of deep controversy and widely acknowledged acclamation, and was book-ended by grave wounds acquired on the battlefield of the War of Independence and by political power secured via successive Israeli elections. His final political years, as prime minister from 2001 to 2006, will be remembered as ones marked by sweeping counter-terror operations followed by arguably even more sweeping peace gestures.'
"We mourn Ariel Sharon’s death together with his family and the people of Israel."