Vice President Joe Biden eulogizes Sharon as “a complex man who lived in complex times in a complex neighborhood.” Sharon was a part of “one of the most remarkable founding generations” in the world’s history, and had “the land of Israel, the Negev, etched on his soul.”
In a country as small as Israel, Sharon’s death “doesn’t just feel like the loss of a leader, it feels like a death in the family. Many of my fellow Americans, some of whom are here, feel that same sense of loss.”
Though we will “never know what the ultimate arc of Arik Sharon’s life would have been had he been physically able to pursue his goal,” Biden says, “as prime minister he surprised many.” Biden praises the former premier for the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.
“He left us too soon,” laments Biden, “but the work of trying to reach peace continues.”
Biden goes out of his way to praise “the political courage it took, whether you agreed with him or not, when he told 10,000 Israelis to leave their homes in Gaza in order to, in his perspective, strengthen” Israel. “I can’t think of a more difficult and controversial decision that’s been made.”
Biden praises Sharon’s commitment to Israel’s security. “Like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a north star that guided him. A north star from which he never in my observation, never deviated. His north star was the survival of the state of Israel, and the Jewish people wherever they resided,” Biden says.
In their many meetings over the years, he adds, “you immediately understood how he acquired … the nickname ‘bulldozer.’ He was indomitable.”
Biden acknowledges disagreements between Sharon and the US when it came to the Palestinian issue, but says the US will always support Israel’s security.
“Since he passed away and in the days ahead there will be much written about the prime minister. And it’s right for the Israeli people to reflect on all aspects of his life … taking the full measure of the man, the arc of his life, or as I would argue, the arc of his life traced the journey of Israel. And through it all the United States, whether we agreed or disagreed with a specific policy, has been unflagging in support of the state of Israel. We have never failed to make Israel’s case around the world. We have never failed to defend Israel’s legitimacy. That will never change.”
He ends with a quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
“He was a man, take him for all in all / I shall not look upon his like again.”
“May the bond between Israel and the United States never be broken,” Biden concludes.