Palestinian youths at the Khan Younis refugee camp burned Sharon’s photograph and handed out candy in celebration of his death. A leader of the Fatah Party in Ramallah called him a war criminal. A spokesman for the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said Sharon’s hands were “covered in Palestinian blood.”
Sharp-edged assessments of his legacy were not confined to Palestinians. A leftist historian recalled Sharon’s disastrous invasion of Lebanon in 1982. A human rights activist branded Sharon a symbol of impunity for the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Beirut that year. But some of the harshest words came from supporters of Israel’s settler movement.
Orit Struck, a member of the Israeli parliament, called Sharon “one of the great builders of the land of Israel, and its greatest destroyer.” She said she thanked God that Sharon was struck down by a stroke before he could return more land to the Palestinians.
So Sharon was, it seems, more or less equally despised by all. The Palestinians despise him for expanding Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories; the Palestinians and Lebanese hate him for invading Lebanon and tacitly encouraging the atrocities of Sabra and Shatila; and the Jewish settlers loathe Sharon for withdrawing from Gaza and evicting Jewish settlers. Maybe it's a "confederacy of dunces" thing, maybe it's just that no one can win in that corner of the world.
Maybe the next generation will be able to remove themselves from the transgressions and assumptions of the previous generations, but probably not. It's more a matter of Palestinians simply outbreeding Jews, aside from the Orthodox and the settlers, with whom mainstream Israelis have some issues to begin with.
Sharon probably did what he felt he had to do for the good of his beleaguered nation, at any particular time. That doesn't help; nothing does. When you have one group claiming to be an exalted chosen, and another group vowing to drive the first group into the sea, you're just not going to win. If both sides must hew to holy books, maybe they could each start with the Golden Rule, and have just an atom of empathy.