U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (C) lays a wreath during the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon near Sycamore Farm, Sharon's residence in southern Israel, January 13, 2014. Israel buried Sharon at his family farm on Monday, celebrating the military achievements of a man seen as a war hero at home but as a war criminal by many in the Arab world. Sharon, 85, died on Saturday after spending the last eight years of his life motionless in a hospital bed, pitched into a coma by a stroke and far from the public gaze. UPI/Baz Ratner/Pool | License Photo
Israeli former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was memorialized Monday by world leaders. Sharon died January 11 at the age of 85 after being comatose for eight years following a stroke.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was among representatives from twenty countries expected at Monday's memorial service and funeral at the Knesset, and offered a eulogy of the former prime minister.
At the funeral service, Biden spoke of Sharon, whom he knew for more than thirty years, as "a powerful man" who was appropriately nicknamed "Bulldozer" for his "indomitable" nature when it came to pursuing and ensuring security for Israel. That focus, Biden said, was guided by "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."
At times, Biden remarked, Sharon's views differed from America's: "... in certain instances, American leaders -- American Presidents -- had profound differences with him, and they were never shy about stating them nor was he ever shy about stating his position."
Throughout his eulogy, Biden emphasized that Sharon was a complex man and that, "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 -- the triumphs as well as the mistakes, taking full measure of the man, the arc of his life. For I would argue the arc of his life traced the journey of the State of Israel."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during his eulogy, "The establishment of Israel depended on a generation of brave fighters to rebuild a legacy of Jewish bravery that seemed to have disappeared. Ariel Sharon had a central role in rebuilding this legacy."
Israeli President Simon Peres echoed the message of Sharon's legacy, saying "Your footprints are imprinted on every hill and in every valley. You cultivated the land with your scythe and defended it with your sword."
Sharon will be buried at his Negev ranch.
[The Jerusalem Post]