TEL AVIV, Israel—Before he became the leader of his country, Ariel Sharon, the recently deceased former Israeli prime minister, spent most of his life as a military man. The formative events for the late general took place on the battlefield. The experiences proved so powerful that they shaped Sharon as a political actor, gradually chiseling the profile of a political leader with such strong and unexpected views that he managed to antagonize even his closest allies and surprisingly satisfy some of his harshest critics.
By the time he became Israel’s most powerful man, the lessons of war led the older Sharon to take actions that the younger Sharon would have fiercely opposed. Had his health permitted, he would have recast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even today, the legacy of Sharon’s experience plays a role in Israel’s reaction to the war on its Syrian border.
In particular, four defining battles in Sharon’s life forged his strategic mind and created his political thinking.