The second Palestinian intifada resurrected Sharon, thanks to people like me. I had supported the Labor-led peace process, knowing it would involve far-reaching compromises. I voted for Ehud Barak in 1999. But when Yasir Arafat tried to leverage Israel by promoting mass terrorism, he changed my mind. I thought it important to erase from the record those concessions that had been offered by Israel at Camp David and, more importantly, at Taba. I saw Sharon as personifying strength, determination, and a willingness to act boldly, not in pursuit of a utopian "New Middle East," but of Israel's national survival. So I cast my ballot for him in 2001, as did a decisive majority of Israeli voters.
The situation was very different in my university setting, where I was a lone soul, both then and in 2003, when I voted for Likud. Since the disengagement and Sharon's creation of Kadima, I've run into people on campus who've announced their intention to cast a ballot for the man they once reviled. Now they never will. No elected leader ever meets all expectations, and to believe that they might is to subscribe to a dangerous sort of secular messianism. But of all the votes I've cast, I least regret the two I cast for Ariel Sharon, and I would have cast another one.
Jan 5, 2006
Voting for Sharon
Martin Kramer looks back.