|Ariel Sharon a week after the Yom Kippur War cease-fire..(Photo by: Emanuel A. Winston)|
Sharon's last laugh
By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN
Even in the most serious moments, former prime minister Ariel Sharon knew how to make his subordinates and everyone around him laugh; his dry, and sometimes dark, sense of humor eased tensions, even with purported foes.
During his political and military careers, former prime minister Ariel Sharon
regularly dealt with very serious issues, and he made life-or-death decisions on
a daily basis.
Nevertheless, even in the most serious moments, he knew
how to make his subordinates and everyone around him laugh. Sharon’s dry – and
sometimes dark – sense of humor eased tensions, even with purported
Keeping that in mind, it was hard not to imagine what Sharon might
have thought had he watched Monday’s funeral procession at the
Chances are, there were moments in the very serious ceremony
that he would have considered funny.
There was no ridiculous
sign-language interpreter like at the late South African president Nelson
US Vice President Joe Biden was careful to not take
But first of all, guests of the Sharon family and VIPs were
given orange bracelets, which enabled their entrance to the most secure areas of
Whoever decided on the color must have forgotten that
orange bracelets were a sign of protest against Sharon’s 2005 withdrawal from
the Gaza Strip.
There were constant references to Sharon’s love of the
Land of Israel that he was about to be buried in. Some attendees could likely
almost hear Sharon, who often made fun of himself, saying from his casket that –
with all due respect – he would rather remain above ground among the
President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s
speeches passed without incident. They both made a point of avoiding mentioning
Gaza, Lebanon or anything controversial.
Then Biden took the microphone,
speaking several decibels louder than the Israelis.
His voice carried far
outside the Knesset and reverberated back.
At the very beginning of his
speech, Biden called the prime minister “Metanyahu,” and pronounced Peres’s name
with an emphasis on the second syllable, which made the Polish- born president’s
name sound Hispanic. He namedropped several Israeli leaders but forgot former
prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was sitting not far from him.
members cringed when in an apparently inadvertent fat joke, Biden said when he
was present, Sharon “filled the room.” But the truth is, Sharon made fun of his
girth more than anyone. After entering an elevator with weighty Labor MK Avraham
“Baiga” Shochat, Sharon looked at him and said “we must be going
When Biden praised the Gaza Strip withdrawal, Gush Katif evacuee
MK Zvulun Kalfa sat silently in the back of the crowd, staring uncomfortably at
the ground. But most of Biden’s 17-minute speech was full of uncontroversial
praise for Israel and Sharon.
While Biden has a reputation for speaking
too long, Sharon never minded lengthy lectures.
He was able to sit
stoically in the Knesset plenum for hours while MKs attacked him without even
changing his expression.
Sharon would have loved to see the odd mix of
people his funeral brought together, from settlers to statesmen and everything
The crowd reflected who he was. And who he was was very