Ariel Sharon left us eight years ago. Yesterday was his final step. He disengaged from us following the last significant act of his life, which was, ironically, the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Much like his giant personality, bursting with charisma and always controversial -- his death, too, was unprecedented: Eight years of limbo between heaven and earth.
It is a shame Sharon was never embraced by the media -- or at least that he didn't receive fair treatment -- prior to his last political act. One could honestly say that Sharon was merely interested in the retreat from Gaza, but that the media detractors who became his champions were interested in the destruction of Jewish communities, the "settlements."
The Ariel Sharon who ascended to the premiership was different from the decorated general who crossed the Suez Canal in 1973. The tactician was still there, but the decades of being perpetually delegitimized ensured that his pragmatism -- which had helped him before -- would override other considerations, no less profound and far-reaching.
For years, Sharon was the punching bag for journalist Yoel Marcus, who, like the rest of his colleagues, never missed an opportunity to take a swing at the person perceived as the biggest threat to the Left's hegemony.
Indeed, the first time Sharon outlined his disengagement plan was to the very same Marcus who Sharon had invited to his ranch.
The enemy became infatuated. In historical terms, Ariel Sharon "walked to Canossa" to clear his name, and on his path toward gaining renewed acceptance from his enemies, those who he grew up with and who educated him in his youth, before he crossed the line to join his political rivals.
In the Mishnah's Ethics of the Fathers, we are taught by Joshua ben Perachiah to "judge every man favorably." One interpretation sees it as instruction to look at each person as an aggregate whole, not to judge him by one specific act or another.
In regard to the calls I have heard from the Right: With all due respect to the pain involved, Sharon and his lifelong contributions to Israel's security and to the settlement enterprise cannot strictly be seen through the prism of the disengagement. The appropriate historical distance is required in order to distill the important from the unimportant.
Rest in peace, Ariel Sharon, even your rivals salute you.