Board of Deputies mourns Ariel Sharon

The president of the Board of Deputies, Vivian Wineman, paid tribute to former Israeli president Ariel Sharon, who died earlier today.

"He was a towering and at times challenging figure who played a dominant role in many of the critical moments in the history of Israel, showing outstanding gallantry and flair," Mr Wineman said.

"He was among Israel's greatest military strategists and a master of tank warfare, an art learnt at staff college in Britain.

"His premiership started during the most sustained period of attacks on Israeli civilian life in the country's existence, but by the end of 2005 he had largely thwarted the danger to civilian life, something for which all Jews should be forever grateful.

"His final major act demonstrated his vision and political boldness in unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza in pursuit of the peace process with the Palestinians."

Mr Wineman said that it was "tragic that only months later he entered into the coma from which
he never emerged. His inspiration will be sadly missed."

Emeritus Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said that there were "two words for strength in Hebrew: koach and gevurah. But they mean quite different things. Koach means the strength to overcome your enemies. Gevurah means the strength to overcome yourself. Koach is the strength to wage war. Gevurah is the strength to make peace.

"Throughout his remarkable life, Ariel Sharon was a man both of koach and gevurah. He was a warrior who became a man of peace.

"He will be remembered as an individual who demonstrated his strength on the battlefield and inspired a nation to achieve remarkable victories in seemingly impossible battles, most dramatically in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

"He will also be remembered as an individual who demonstrated his strength in the political arena, leading his country with conviction and through a series of painful steps, to negotiate with enemies in the ongoing pursuit of peace."

Last updated: 11:48pm, January 11 2014