Ariel Sharon's Dark Greatness

In 1930, George Bernard Shaw rose to toast Albert Einstein, and said, “If you take the typical great man of our historic epoch—and suppose I had to rise here tonight to propose a toast of Napoleon. Well, undoubtedly, I could say many, many flattering things about Napoleon.” But about that greatness, Shaw deadpanned, something else would have to be considered, “perhaps the most important thing”: “Which is that it would perhaps have been better for the human race if he had never been born.”

I write as Ariel Sharon’s funeral proceeds; the Israeli media is flooded with flattering memories: he was brave; he was loyal; he was charming; he was headstrong, thus charismatic (even if, at times, he defied commanders and shaded the truth); he was pragmatic; he did his homework, then acted boldly; he could reverse course. None of this changes perhaps the most important thing.

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