One year ago today, Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke that turned the reins of power over to Ehud Olmert. Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Herb Keinon observes that a disastrous 2006 for Israel undermined much of Sharon's legacy. The chaos, weapons smuggling and rocket attacks from Gaza have made his disengagement look like a failure and the blind eye he turned to Hezbollah's arms build up came back to haunt Israel during the Lebanon War, Keinon writes.
Though Keinon makes some fair points, I think that Sharon deserves some slack because you don't know how he would have followed through on disengagement or responded to aggression from Hezbollah. When Sharon had his stroke, Israel lost one of the most experienced military leaders in its history–a man who was involved in every one of the nation's wars since its founding–and replaced him with Olmert, who had among the least military experience of any prime minister (and who made Amir Peretz Defense Minister, the dovish Labor Party leader who campaigned on social welfare issues). Sharon was a unique leader because he developed a realistic attitude toward settlements based on demographic realities while remaining not just vigilant in fighting terrorism, but effective, having reduced suicide bombings to a trickle. It's one thing to reevaluate disengagement given the events of the last year, but pinning too much of the blame on Sharon is like blaming the failures of Reconstruction on Lincoln.