Hello From Jerusalem, From Yossi's desk, January 12, 2013
In January 2006, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke which left him in a persistent vegetative state. With the recent deterioration of PM Sharon’s health, he once again became a main topic of conversation amongst the Israeli people. Much has been written and spoken about Arik Sharon, who was my prime minister as well as a very dear friend.
I first met PM Sharon in 2001, at a UIA- KH mega event held in honor of the IDF - Israel Defense Forces at the Ramat Aviv Air Force Base, which I had the pleasure of emceeing. PM Sharon had been elected just few months prior. I was not one of the people who helped him to reach his desired seat; I admit - I did not vote for PM Sharon when he ran for the job the first time.
I will never forget the moment that I announced that PM Sharon had arrived. I was standing on the stage in front of about 4,000 pilots, officers and soldiers (as well as visiting Canadians and many Israelis). The entire audience went ballistic when PM Arik Sharon walked in! He was their man!!! He was one of them - a soldier, an officer, a friend, and they loved him for that. They trusted him to lead Israel for better and for worse, and so it was.
The years of the intifada were extremely difficult. Many citizens suffered crises due to terror and the country underwent a financial collapse. Arik Sharon, the triumphant fighter, won the war against terror in the State of Israel. He revived and brought stability to the financial market. Our economy recovered significantly, with foreign investors showing confidence and investing billions of dollars in Israel once again.
Arik Sharon won the love, respect, and appreciation of the people. He also won my personal support and devotion. I fell in love with the man who was a father, a grandfather and a mentsch. He was a great builder and a true believer in the State of Israel. Arik Sharon became a true personal friend, a friend whom I will miss greatly.
Tomorrow morning his coffin will make its way from the Knesset in Jerusalem to his farm in the Negev, where he will be buried next to his beloved wife Lili. On the journey the coffin will stop in Latrun on the hills of Jerusalem, where Sharon fought and was injured in the War of Independence in 1948.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be missed as a friend and as a leader of our nation – may his memory be blessing.
Yossi Tanuri | Director General | Jewish Federations of Canada - UIA