BRIAN LAMB, HOST: General Ariel Sharon you have a book out called "Warrior." Why'd you write the book?
ARIEL SHARON, AUTHOR, "WARRIOR": I thought it would be important to tell the story to reveal the history of the State of Israel, its struggles, its happiness, its agonies, its victories, its defeats. It was a long story a long struggle. That is about the past. And I felt that looking forward one should emphasize some of the challenges that Israel should provide for the Jewish people in the future in order to develop and to continue.
LAMB: One of the most interesting things I learned when I looked through your book was that you were born and raised in Israel. How many people that live in Israel today that you are involved with in the government were actually born there?
SHARON: I think in the government now the correct number of people that were born in Israel generally if I would say that out of 3.8 million people in Israel I believe it's about maybe 2 million immigrated to Israel and the rest were born there.
LAMB: What was it like in those early days?
SHARON: I was born on a village on a farm. My father was an agronomist agriculture scientist and a fenceless farmer. He was a Zionist born in Russia and came to the Jewish homeland. My mother came straight from the University finishing four years of medicine. She saw then that she would be able to finish her studies in Israel more than would be impossible first of all didn't have yet university second life was very hard. For I would like to describe my use would say from the materialistic point of view it was a real poverty. From the spiritual part of the life life was very rich. The people were educated having a strong Zionist ideology and I remember and one hand very hard work very poor life and on the other hand I remember my father playing a violin and painting. I remember people coming to participate and oh used to play used to read poetry. So from this aspect I would say life was very rich. I remember my mother walking without shoes for years but they were highly motivated people worked very hard. Physical labor was a very important part not only because we had to work and we started to work myself very early. But it was regarded also as an important thing and it was always I remember what my parents used to say it's important to work. Physical work is important. And that way how I was raised in the village. Always surrounded by Arabs though we live together with Arabs. Were never afraid of Arabs. And looking backward to my childhood I always believed that we'll be living with Arabs and myself I believed that we can live together with Arabs with all the complications.
LAMB: Where was the village?
SHARON: The village then was in the center of the country not far from Tel Aviv which is one of the main towns in Israel. It was a small village 56 families altogether. It was very hard to cultivate land there. No water. For eight years water had to be brought in a wagon from the closest river about six miles away then in the winter from the swamp which was about three miles away. I would say hard life. My father was a visionist. He introduced many new things for instance my father in the 30's spoke about the avocado as the fruit of the future. Nobody knew about that. People laughed and joked. But he himself tried always to do things that he recommended to others first of all on his own farm. He had a beautiful farm of course having always security problems. We had always security problems and now days we speak about Philistine and terror but Philistine and terror started much earlier. It started more than 100 years ago and that was one of the problems they were facing there.
LAMB: 61 years ago you were if I calculate correctly you were born. Are you 61 years old?
LAMB: When you were born what land were you born into and how much time..can you remember the years before it became an actual country? Israel was at the 1948 decision.
SHARON: I remember Israel well in the 30's and of course I remember Israel very well in the 40's. How this country looked? It was a small community. In 1948 when the war of independence started the Jewish community was then 600,000 people. A strong community. A highly motivated hard working people. A people that didn't have any doubt about the right to the land. I remember my parents always saying all the rights over the land of Israel then Palestine all the rights belong to the Jews all the rights to the land all the rights over the land are Jewish rights. In the same time all the inhabitants in the country should have all the rights. But they made very very clear a distinction. The war of independence was a very hard war. Israel suffered heavy casualties. About 1% of the total Jewish population were killed during the war of independence. Myself I found myself though when I was a child I never saw that we..soldier. I thought that I would be following my parents as a farmer and I thought to and even started to study in the faculty of the agriculture of agronomy in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem but the war started and I found myself a soldier. I started as a private first class and became a Corporal. Maybe the hardest thing was for me to be promoted from a private first class to a corporal. And I did all my way in the army. I went through the ranks till the rank of a general during the war of independence. I commanded a platoon then at the end of the war a company. I was very badly wounded in the battle to open the siege of Jerusalem in May '48 spend several weeks in hospital came back. And forth until the end of the war and that's how it looked then..I never thought..I never felt and suffered the heavy casualties. I don't remember even one day that we lost our self confidence. People then saw a goal ahead of them. We at the beginning of the war we knew that independence was knocking at our gate and the U.N. resolution took place on the 29th of November '47. The British left and we knew they were going to leave on the 15 of May '48. So we knew that the independence is coming. We knew that hundreds of refugees were waiting in the refugee camps in Europe and others for then by the British in Cypress so we knew that the door should be open and so having all those goal and targets though they were very hard I don't remember even one day of a kind of a crisis or that we lost our self confidence although it was a very dangerous war.
LAMB: Are you still in the military?
SHARON: No I left the military after I started filling the underground in the Harganaw which was an underground movement during the British time. Altogether I served for 28 years and I left in 1973 just three months before the Yom Kippur War that took place in October 1973. My last function was Commander of the 1000 Command. I commanded the sewards come up front (?). Maybe the hardest part of the war of attrition. And in mid July '73 I left the Army and I became a Commander of Reserved Armor Division. And I commanded this Division three months later I was called together with my Division. I was called as a Reserve General Major General to command this Division that happened to cross the Suez Canal for the turning point for the U.N. and the Gampeque War.
LAMB: Family. You've been married twice?
SHARON: I got first married in 1953 to a beautiful and charming girl who was a nurse whom I knew since she was I think 15 years old. And she was a Psychiatric Nurse. We had a wonderful son and then in 1962 she was killed in a road accident while driving her car to Jerusalem. She was a supervisory Psychiatric Nurse. Very successful, very young, very successful. Then I was left with our son was a wonderful boy with all the difficulties I still remember that one of the hardest things I had is how to tell a boy who was five years old about the death of mother by itself a very complicated thing and I remember still those fears to start telling him about his tragedy. Then I got married with Lilly my present wife who is the sister of my first wife and two boys were born and then after a few years I think five years after my first wife was killed my oldest son whose name was Gogushmoil (?) was killed in a terrible accident when he was shot by another boy who play with a shotgun a very old shotgun maybe 100 years old.
LAMB: Let me stop you just a second so I can show this picture. Can you tell who these..
SHARON: Yes. The one who's close to me there is Gol who was killed.
LAMB: Well the one over here.
SHARON: Yes. That was a short time before he was killed. And the second one is Amree (?) who is an officer in the paratroopers and the young the younger is Gilad (?) who was also an officer in the paratroopers and just came back to the farm now and is running the farm.
LAMB: What impact did the loss of your first wife and your son have on you?
SHARON: These were of course very hard events in every aspect. But I managed to overcome and to make life again. It was a terrible thing when my first wife was killed and then it was a terrible when my son was killed and he died in my arms when I was rushing with him to the hospital. It was no hope because he was wounded in his head and I knew that I saw I saw this kind of wound before and knew that there is no chance what so ever but of course you are always have some hopes and we were rushing to the hospital, but he died in my arms rushing there. Then I thought for awhile that I won't be able to overcome that. It was a wonderful boy really wonderful. But I managed. I did manage.
LAMB: How many languages do you speak?
SHARON: Hebrew of course that's my mother language. And some English. It's not..we learn English in school was not then the first language we learned. I understand Russian quite well because my grandmother used to speak to us Russian. And so I understand Russian. I try even now to listen to news and I would understand even a lecture if it not too complicated. I understand and speak Arabic. I been living with Arabs all our life and..
LAMB: It seems like I hear a little French accent on your English.
LAMB: No French.
SHARON: I'm afraid that's the Israeli accent.
LAMB: It's the Israeli accent.
LAMB: What about the United States. When was the first time you came here? I saw in your book that you were thinking at one time about going to the University of Colorado in Agriculture.
SHARON: Yes. The first time I came here after the war of independence I had then a terrible malaria I caught a terrible malaria and I could not I could not get rid of that. The doctors could not find any solution and they decide it will be a change of climate maybe I'll be able to overcome that. So I left then I was a young Major very young I think about then when I left at 23 years old and went to Europe first and then I came to United States. Of course it was the first time when I left the village our village and came to the world. It was I have many time seen but of course I always remember my first visit coming to Manhattan going with my head up like that watching those tall buildings and of course I remember Paris, I remember London and Rome and so on. And coming here the first thing that I did was to encourage by my aunt Mrs. Yardney (?) Susan Yardney, my aunt she encouraged me then to immediately to go and make the drivers license here I get it and I started to drive and went to trip down to up to Texas then. I saw then this giant country. I left New York remember it was heavy snow and became I went down to Florida, Tennessee and became hotter and hotter and I spent the New Years Eve then from Louisiana back along the Mexican Gulf to Palm Beach Florida where I spent the New Years Eve it was so hot and I was completely surprised by the amount of water and bridges and I took so many films but when I came home I found that most of the films of the pictures I took were bridges. I was so much fascinated coming from our dry country in Israel we have rains only through a very short period from the end of November through March and then everything is becoming first in the winter it's green and beautiful. Beautiful flowers but very short then everything is getting yellow, then gray, and then at the top of the autumn you can see already becoming a brown because we prepare our figs for seeding and so on. And so for me those bridges were maybe the first surprise I saw coming to this country. It was a fascinating visit. I should admit I got rid of the malaria but I also was fascinated with what I saw. I thought about studying. I went to University in Jerusalem in November of '47 but the war started then so I had to leave. I thought then to study agronomy as my father did and I checked here I wrote to university. I was mostly interested in erosion and land preservation. And the center was then I think in Denver, Colorado. I wrote them but the life developed differently there. Actually I came home. I served as intelligence officer in Norton Command where I met with a General Leon the Commander and Chief of Norton Command. Meanwhile were facing a wave of Palestinian terror coming across the boundaries of the occupied territories by Jordan and Egypt to West Bank and Gaza District. And I was then called to form a special unit to fight terror while the 101 unit a very small unit but a unit that had a tremendous influence on the Israeli army. And then I became the commander of the paratroopers. I managed to go back to study but much later and I did then I went to study law and I got my law degree.
LAMB: You're a member of the Knesset .
SHARON: I'm a member of the Knesset and I'm member of the government for more than 12 years now. I served as Minister of Agriculture Minister of Defense and now as Minister of Industry and Trade.
LAMB: How many members are there just take a couple minutes here to put it in perspective for our people. How many members are there of the Knesset?
SHARON: In the Knesset there are 120 members.
LAMB: How many of them are member of the Likud (?) party? Your party?
SHARON: We are having 40 members. We are the largest party.
LAMB: Member of the labor party.
LAMB: And how many other parties are there?
SHARON: There are some other parties. There is smaller parties. Some religious parties and some other parties from the left and from the right. Altogether 120 members.
LAMB: How long are you elected for?
SHARON: Four years.
LAMB: How many people do you represent?
SHARON: We don't have this system. Ours is what you call the proportional system. It's not it's not the same system that you have here though they are thought about changing and moving into regional elections or similar to one that you have here.
LAMB: Who elects you?
SHARON: We are elected..there is a list of candidates. The candidates are elected by the party convention. Party convention is something similar to what you are having here. The Likud which is the largest party. It's a democratic party having 2,600 members and they elect the candidates for the parliament designated.
LAMB: When someone goes into the voting booth and Israeli citizen and votes who do they vote for?
SHARON: They vote for a party. They vote for a party. And they call in the number of votes that are the number of seats in a parliament that a party will get. Of course elections are secret and so on but proportion secret and so on but we don't have the local system here. There is thought about changing the system in Israel.
LAMB: So you do not have to serve a constituency per se? You do not have to go back and shake hands with the individual district voters?
SHARON: Well I have to shake hands with the whole country. And Israel is a small country and I will generally speak about Israel being almost daily in the headlines. People get the impression that we speak about a giant. Israel is tiny small country. It will take the distance from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean including the West Bank it's 47 miles not more than that. So I speak about a small country. Beautiful country. Beautiful country. And of course it's ours. And there everywhere where you did you will find something. Not oil That we never found there. And not any other natural resources besides the Dead Sea that by itself is a phenomenon that that Sea is the lowest place upon the ponarous 1,200 ft. below sea level. And Israel this is so close that you can be in Jerusalem in the beautiful mount of Jerusalem which are 2,700 ft. above sea level it takes you less that half an hour and you are coming to the lowest place in the world the Dead Sea which is 1,200 ft. below sea level. Besides that Israel if you know your Bible and then you don't need a guide book. The place has kept the old name Jerusalem is the capital of the Jews for the last 3,000 years. Bethlehem has been using this name by almost 4,000 years has born the same. The River Jordan be called by then the same Mt. Habhor is Habhor and Mt. Carmel is Mt. Carmel and all the names were kept as they are written in the Bible.
LAMB: We are talking with Ariel Sharon and we're talking about his book called "Warrior" and you can see it here. It's published by Simon and Schuster and in the middle there we can see that this book was written with David is it Chanoff.
SHARON: David Chanoff.
LAMB: Who is he?
SHARON: David Chanoff is a young writer from Boston that was introduced to me by Simon Schuster. I met with him. I had to tell the story. And I had of course to tell the story to somebody that could tell the story without any reservations. So I met with some people and they were very kind to that. And I decided that I will be able to talk to David. So worked on this book I think about 2 1/2 years but never could take him the real interval so I used to work say one to two months. We used to see, I used to talk, he used to write and then of course I have to read it and read it again and it was very interesting. It was not an easy thing because the man when he started to write his knowledge about Israel was very little and now I can assure that he knows a lot about Israel and I enjoyed very much working with him. He wrote several books and I enjoyed working with him. Maybe I'll write another book with him I don't know.
LAMB: Did you do most of the work here in the United States?
SHARON: No most of the book has been done in Israel. He used to come there or I came here from time to time. Most of the work has done in Israel.
LAMB: Is the book written primarily for the American citizen?
SHARON: This books was written for an American reader. In this book there are things that in Israel because the book is translated now and edited for the Israeli reader. There are things that in Israel that you don't have to have there and there are things that should be emphasized more. So we tried to do it that would suit the American reader that might understand the problems of Israel the problems of the State of Israel. What we are facing. What might be in the future and what I'm trying here is to attract the interest of our people and not only our people Jews and non-Jewish to Israel is a special country. It's a different country than any other country.
LAMB: There's a lot that's been written that been written about you in several publications. I want to ask you about a couple in a second but one of the ways we got to know you was through the Time Magazine libel trial. The best I can count there are only two pages devoted to it in your book. How come so little.
SHARON: It was for that there are many many stories that I could not tell here. There are battles that were not described. There are many issues that I could not come. How big can a book be. We thought about not such a big book but that would happen as so many things had to be left aside. Beside that it was a book also published by Simon Schuster called "Book Libel" written by Yuel Dunn who is an Israeli writer and and a journalist who describes this trial in details. It was a hot trial and it was not an easy thing to come over here from thousands of miles away and try to sooth this empire. The Time Magazine and it is and it was an empire. It is an empire in their own backyard. But I saw then that there are hours and it was very odd how when they published that that was in the day when I had when it was my last day in the Ministry of Defense and when I read that I decided that I must halt turn back and start fighting in order to try and show and prove it was a lie it was a lie. It was not an easy thing from every aspect and it was a very long trial. I came here I remember for the position it was summer then when the trial started it was autumn the leaves were red and then the winter came and it was snowing and I even remember the beautiful a beautiful girl that was there and was sitting there and she told us that she's getting married. Then she told us that she became pregnant and of course the trial ended before she gave birth but all that happened during the trial. It was a long struggle. Legal struggle. It was very hard from the financial point of view. It's very hard to conduct a trial in the United States.
LAMB: What did it cost you?
SHARON: The law firm …could live a very nice and very good they took only out of pocket expenses. That by itself was almost three quarter of a million dollars. They did not charge me for anything else only for that and for by itself it a terrible burden. So the one front was the legal front. The second front was the financial front. Then it was the kind of non stop press conference was sitting there for weeks with the press which was nice and of course I took advantage of that to tell about Israel tell about our life tell about the Middle East the various issues in our region and so on. And I'm glad that I did it because it's real important my wife and myself we came here and together after 12..oh say it was a kind of a family struggle. And what we managed to prove is of course that they lied about the facts and I never instigated I never encountered, I never talked to anyone about the atrocities that took place .And I was very glad because I regarded it to something that I could not have accepted.
LAMB: There's a best seller in this country that's number one on the best seller list and the audience knows what this is. We had this gentleman he a New York Times reporter Tom Friedman here the week before your interview with your book and I thought it might be interesting because he writes a lot about you. I went to the index and I looked under the name Sharon and I went through and just underlined what he said and I want to read you some of this and get your reaction to it. Give you a chance to answer directly some of the things that Tom Friedman..do you know the man by the way?
SHARON: I know Tom Friedman for many years. I met with him. Used to come to our farm. He used to come to our apartment in the city of Jerusalem. I've not read his book. But I heard something about the book and I found, I have to admit, several inaccuracies.
LAMB: Okay just let me read this "It all still comes down to the Hama Rules: Rule or die. One man triumphs the others weep. The rest is just commentary but there is only one man in Israel Hoffa Sasaid (?) ever feared and that is Ariel Sharon because Ahsaid knew that Sharon too was ready to play by Hama rule. Again Hama Rules mean rule or die." Would you agree with that?
SHARON: First I think it's a good thing that Ahsaid is afraid of me. It may be that may avoid dangerous war in the future. But I think that the comparison is not the right one. I never believed in that. I don't believe in that. I think that all this comparison is something that's outrageous and I cannot accept that. I never believed in these violence and terror when speak about a man Ahsaid who in order to overcome certain internal resistance destroyed maybe one of the oldest cities in the world Camet (?) leveled the city killed at least 25,000 people was a man who rules his country. Ahsaid is a tyrant will not speak about democracy cruel. I can see what they are doing now to the Christians in Lebanon.
LAMB: Do you think he fears you? Do you think Ahsaid fears you?
SHARON: That what Tom Friedman writes. So if Ahsaid fears me so maybe it's good think because I would have advocated to the Arabs not to underestimate the strength of Israel and not to misjudge Israel as a result of the way that we are deal with the present time with the violence and terror because we restrict ourselves we restrain ourselves. But when it comes to military strength and the determination of the nation I think it's better that the Syrians will be careful. So if he fears I think maybe it's a good thing. But one cannot compare entirely different things, entirely different people. entirely different..we never believed in matters we never believed in dictatorship and we never believed in these things. We live in a democracy. Israel is a stable democracy. We are members of a democratic government of a democratic party and that is the significant in Israel.
LAMB: Chapter six. "Ariel Sharon never sent Yassar Arafat flowers. What everyone thinks of the former Israeli General and Defense Minister Sharon did not play games with his enemies he killed them."
SHARON: Well now fifty years after the breakout of the Second World War I think maybe it's good to remember what Winston Churchill said to the British people in June 1941 and he said we will never parley we will never negotiate with Hitler or with any of his gang. And I personally believe that the free world people who live in free societies should never negotiate with Arafat and his gang. We speak about a man who got more Jewish blood on his hands than anybody since the Nazi's time. There are enemies with whom you sign peace agreement. We sign agreement with Sadat and I backed his agreement I supported his agreement, but there are enemies with whom you never sign any peace agreement. With them you never negotiate. People that t's a goal. The extermination, the destruction the elimination of your own country and you speak about a democratic country small democratic country the Middle East Israel which is entitled part of the free world. And that is written in the Palestinian covenant but it should not be written. We can see daily events these are enemies with whom you don't negotiate with whom you cannot talk. And there are people that..take an example there are people that their activities cannot be tolerated by free peop..by the people living in the free world. One of these people are Khadaffi. United States tried to kill him. Arafat is from the same category.
LAMB: Quote "Ariel Sharon" this is Tom Friedman again "epitomized the ruthless single mindedness of the European Zionist." Now in the jacket to your book it even calls you ruthless. Do you like that when you hear the word ruthless? Maybe it would be fairer to read this if I can find it. I'll find it while you respond with..here it is. It says, "Visionary and ruthless pragmatist." Jacket to your book.
SHARON: I don't know if you mean by ruthless merciless or I saw that is not no. You speak about determined about determined and daring yes. And I remember what the late Ben-Gurion that I had the privilege..
LAMB: David Ben-Gurion.
SHARON: ..David Ben Gurion our first Prime Minister when I was a young officer he liked me very much. He used to invite me and talk to me. And I remember that he told me a Greek a Greek saying that said "To dare is to succeed." The story of our people in the land of Israel is story of daring. It's a story of daring. That is the story. And without daring I don't think we could have achieved anything there.
LAMB: Why do people like to write the word ruthless when they talk about Ariel Sharon?
SHARON: Maybe they should be asked this question. But I'm learned that once you believe in something you have to fight for it. That's how I was taught at home. In our home never anybody was accepted and they you know without any being checked and so on. My parents used to say always never accept anything never take anything for granted. Check it. If you accept it it's along the line that you believe back it support it. If not fight it. That the way how they did. That the way how I do. And maybe I had the strengths to struggle for those things I believed. I don't think I ever gave up. I did struggle. And maybe that is a mannerism. Maybe I saw some of the things earlier than others. And I was not I was not overcome by their mocking or drocking or any thing like that and I was determined to implement them.
LAMB: Your book which you have published and we're talking about here. Ariel Sharon "Warrior." What kind of reception have you received around the United States for this book? And how much traveling have you done to promote it?
SHARON: I could not I could not do too much. I came here for 10 days though very active days. I've been in New York and Washington. This time I don't think I do more. Maybe in the future maybe I will be able to do more that if I could have done now. I've been here to this country many times. I like to come to United States. I like this great democracy which we know when there..each friendship traditional friendship to Israel and it's a mutual friendship and we know the contribution of this great democracy to the world and leading role of this country in the world. I like to come here. It's also an experience only of life is experiences. So it's a new experience that we have to pass.
LAMB: You appeared on the Phil Donahue Show?
SHARON: Yes I did.
LAMB: What was your reaction to the aggressive nature of that program? Was that comfortable, uncomfortable? Were you ready for it?
SHARON: It took me a minute or two to realize where I were and then of course I had to react according to according to the program the way it was done. And it took me several minutes and I believe that I managed to control the stage there as it had to be done. I would say that I don't see any reason that if somebody looks at you or somebody shouts at you that you have to give up. I mean I never it before but it was important and was an experience.
LAMB: Do you have programs like that in Israel?
SHARON: Not of this kind. We have some other programs. Of course interviewing is allowed so might be aggressive. But this kind we don't..I've never participated in a program of this kind. I don't think we have something of this kind. But also I did it so.
LAMB: Then another couple of maybe it was a couple days before then you were scheduled to go on the Larry King Show. I happened to be watching that night and..
SHARON: That didn't come out because of the yet I hope maybe it will be..it didn't come out because it was that night was this bitter discussion between the Reverends..
LAMB: George Stallings and another Catholic priest.
LAMB: My question for you is did it irritate you that you were asked to come to this show and then because of this disagreement broke out they rescheduled you?
SHARON: No. It's normal. One may understand particularly that may happen. I don't think it was personal thing that happened.
LAMB: What has been the overall reaction from what you've seen by the media to you and this book?
SHARON: I felt very good here and don't have any complaints. I'm glad to be here and I hope that the book will help people to understand the struggles for Israel for our people there from every aspect and I try to describe I believe an accurate way try to make it interesting not an easy thing to write. Sometimes I found it was easy easier to do the things than to write about those things. But it was interesting.
LAMB: I have a cover story in "Insight" magazine which is published by the Washington Times and the cover story looks like this. We'll show the audience a couple of people you that you probably know pretty well. Just incidentally we talked about the fact that you were born in Israel 61 years ago. How about these two gentlemen that we look at here? Mr. Perez and Mr. Shamir. Were they born in Israel?
SHARON: First of course I know them and no they were not born in Israel.
LAMB: What countries did they come from do you know?
SHARON: I think both of them were born in Poland.
LAMB: What about some of the other people that we know. Itzak Rabin (?) where's he from?
SHARON: Rabin was born in Israel.
LAMB: In Israel?
LAMB: Somebody..was Golda Miere..oh Golda Miere was born here wasn't she?
SHARON: Golda Miere was born..
LAMB: In Wisconsin?
SHARON: Actually born here or in Russia and came here..
LAMB: Spent some time in Milwaukee?
LAMB: As a teacher? Does it matter at all. I mean you've been there all of your life. Does it matter to you or others if you came from another country whether or not you can be a part of the government?
SHARON: No. First of all it doesn't make a difference. We live in democracy and everyone might be elected and they call in the democratic way so no no I don't think so. All together I don't think there is a major difference. All of us are Jews. Myself first of all I'm a Jew before anything else. If something really worries me about that the future of the Jewish people that was one of the reasons of writing the book I'm looking for a situation where Israel will be able to provide those needed challenges for the Jews in Israel.
LAMB: When you say you're a Jew are you religious?
SHARON: No I'm not religious? But I'm a Jew. I'm a Jew and that is more than anything else.
LAMB: What is that? How much does religion play in the role of the whole exercise of government do you think?
SHARON: I think that you know it's a different thing when you speak about religious here or there. In Israel when you speak about religious you speak about the Jewish orthodox community. Because I mean there are other people who maybe keep tradition but would not call them orthodox. Can speak about I believe 15 1-5 15% of the total population I would call them orthodox Jews.
LAMB: So most of the people that are leading the state of Israel are not religious Jews?
SHARON: Yes you are right.
LAMB: Let me get back to the "Insight" magazine. I want to read you this first paragraph. "Rumor has it that Prime Minister Itzak Shamir (?) and Industry and Trade Minister Ariel Sharon haven't spoke for more than six months. That Defense Minister Itzak Rabin tried to punch Sharon for impugning his character in a cabinet meeting. Then in cabinet meeting when ministers passed notes half the time they contained derogatory jokes about fellow cabinet members." That's the opening paragraph of a cover story in one of our weekly magazines. What do you say to that?
SHARON: I think this has been exaggerated. Like in every like in every party like in political life everywhere there are struggles and so on but I think they've been exaggerated.
LAMB: Have you spoken to Mr. Shamir in six months?
SHARON: Of course. Of course. I'm a member of the government. I speak to Mr. Shamir quite often. First of all I talked to him in the government meetings and I talk to him in a meetings of the elected ministers. I talked to him on any of the issues which is important or for which can belong to the minister that I'm in charge or any of the things I believe that should be discussed. So we are all on the talking terms. And I believe that altogether it might be differences of views but mostly on the tactics not over all strategy.
LAMB: Are you friends?
SHARON: No we are not personal friends. But should you be a friend with everyone?
LAMB: Okay. In a recent Likud Ministerial meeting Industry and Trade Minister Ariel Sharon asked why he has not been informed Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir talks with Palestinians. This is a little transcript they run here in the magazine. Shamir: Because you leak everything. Other ministers can keep a secret.
SHARON: I feel contempt for what you said. Shamir: You create only an ugly atmosphere and hatred.
SHARON: I laugh at these statements.
SHARON: So you don't expect me prove these things. If I prove these things it sound terrible. If I not prove these things so and so in all so what will be with the Inside Magazines. So I..
LAMB: Here is a picture of you and Ibstock..
SHARON: No that's not me. I'm on the other side.
LAMB: Oh no no. I know. I know. I know.
LAMB: Here is a picture of you the audience is going to see it right now. Here you are. Mr. Shamir and Mr. Lavey.
SHARON: Lavey yes. Yes.
LAMB: And they say that in the event that this man doesn't continue to be Prime Minister one or the other of you might become. Are you still interested in being Prime Minister?
SHARON: Israel is a democracy. We have a democratic party. If I'll be nominated or elected by my party I'll accept it. I believe that I can contribute. I believe I can contribute in setting those needed goals for Israel and I believe that I could have contributed in the peace process maybe the warrior will become the peace maker.
LAMB: Can we go back and discuss in the time remaining the invasion or however you want to characterize it into Lebanon the whole issue that eventually became the subject of the libel suit and let you tell us your side of this story. And if you would explain to us..it was back in 1982..why did you go into Lebanon?
SHARON: We first..very dangerous situation along our northern border. In Lebanon those days it was the P.L.O. a independent kingdom of terror headed by Yassar Arafat and of course all of the other murders like Kados Hobash (?) and Ifwa Whatmine Natmegiblee (?) was responsible for tragedy with Parmano Englandanson (?). Our northern civilian population civilians of our northern towns and villages became hostages in their hands. They took advantage of the cease fire which was not kept completely. That's one of the mistake of the book because it has been mentioned in Tom Friedman's book that it was completely quiet there. It was not completely quiet. …Of the day of the cease fire there were all together 290 terrorist activities that took place. Though most of them not along the northern border but it took place inside Israel or along other borders or in Europe against Jews and Israeli citizens or instructed from Lebanon. And they had there in size of labor a tremendous infrastructure. They had there more that 500 guns and could shoot our rockets. Tremendous depots of ammunition about 100 tanks and 15,000 terrorist information. A thousand of our people left the northern border and moved southward. We could not take any activity against the terrorists because once we did it they started immediately to shell our civilian population. And life was unbearable. And we could not have accepted that and of course we could not have accepted a situation where Jews would be murdered elsewhere in the world. And it would all the time it was the position and I'm sorry to say even of the U.S. representatives then Philip Habeb who was busy then trying to say that the cease fire did not included Jews in Europe or any other places. And we could not have accepted that. So the event the situation became harder and harder until our Ambassador in London was shot in his hand in his head and then Israel took a decision to we send our Air Force to a..terrorists targets in Lebanon in reaction was heavy started heavy shelling of our settlements and it was decided by the government much earlier on the 16th of May '82 and it was not the first time that we discussed it. The government discussed it dozens and dozens of times what to do because we faced a very dangerous situation. And the government decided then on the 5th to move into Lebanon in order to destroy the P.L.O. terrorist infrastructure and that what we did. Those tragic event that took place later which you mentioned before neither myself nor any other Israeli was involved in these atrocities. Not a soldier not a officer not a politician. And even the inquiry commission found they found that a fault in me not anticipating that such a tragic event could happen. And they found it in a hindsight. But nobody was did participate in it. We never knew it. We never thought it might happen.
LAMB: Tom Friedman writes a paragraph here and I want to read it and get you to respond to the context of the whole thing because it goes right to what right to this whole issue. He says "Sharon knew how strong Israel was. And he believed wrongly that this military strength could in almost a mechanical fashion solve a whole knot of complex deeply rooted political problems. That tiny Israel could drive the P.L.O. out of Lebanon install Bishir Gemile as President neutralize Syria and the Lebanese muslims get Lebanon to sign a peace treaty and then force the Palestinians living in the West Bank in Gaza Strip to accept Israeli rule." One last thing here. "Unlike Hafez Hasad Sharon did not know when to stop. He did not understand the limits of power in a fragmented unpredictable place such as Lebanon."
SHARON: I cannot find here even one thing which is correct. Also I would like to say to mention the thing that his book Tom Friedman whom I do appreciate like for instance about the '67 war that Israel attacked in Jerusalem or attacked Jordanians as a kind of preemptive strike. I mean that's wrong. All of know that what happened was then that King Hussain instructed his forces to attack Jerusalem. So but it's another thing. I don't find here even one thing which is correct. We never thought about crowning Ashield's Mile. It's a place of Lebanon that was not the target and not the goal of our going to Lebanon. We went to Lebanon to destroy the P.L.O. a terrorist independent kingdom of terror headed by Arafat. That was the purpose. It was expression of life and death for us. I knew Lebanon. It not only that I learned about Lebanon I read about Lebanon and I met with Lebanese. Myself I decided five months before the war I always thought maybe I misjudging maybe I don't understand well. I decided to go to Lebanon secretly. And five months before the war I landed in Junia (?) not in Beirut and I spend there about 36 hours meeting with Lebanese leaders visiting the Lebanese forces going to the mountain to see the forces their stronghold there. I wanted to see them at home. In their homes. How they looked there. How they speak. How they behave. In order to be more sure that when you about the Shiite when you're about the Druse we made all the preparations. We had officers… Myself talking to Pete Mile father of Besheridge Mile and to President Shaman (?). I tried to convince them even to give a certain amount of weapons to the Shiites in order to try in order to try and have more cooperation with them. I personally believe that goal it was not the goal of our war.
LAMB: This is your wife in the middle and Pierre Gemayel?
SHARON: Yes. We..that's our visit my wife and myself visit to Beirut meeting with Pierre Gemayel. All this after the assassination of his son. And I was not any more the Minister of Defense. We just went to meet some friends.
LAMB: And this is a picture of you and Bashir?
SHARON: That is my first visit. The secret visit to Beirut five months before the war. And I personally believe that though it was not the goal for war as a result of the war the situation in Lebanon could have been entirely different. And once it was..would have been more understanding. For instance on the American side and I think that the American representatives then mislead the President because I don't think they gave the right description or maybe didn't have the understanding about a situation. But we knew Lebanon. It was a major mistake to try and solve other issues through Lebanon. Or to use Lebanon as leverage to solve other problems like bringing Syria on the American side. Or trying to solve the Palestinian problem. Those attempt by Philip Habeb to as he used to call it to make the P.L.O. political P.L.O. It was a mistake. The Lebanese problem was so complicated by itself that solving it but only that problem was a tremendous effort. I believe then that as a result of the war not..it was not the goal of the war it's a result of the war the situation could have been entirely different now. And I used to speak then about this triangle. Jerusalem, Cairo, Beirut as a integral part of the free world. It could have been different. And the present time when we see that the western democracies left that small Christian community I think those who interfered then with our activities should feel their responsibility at least now and save this small Christian Marinite community. We have done our part since 1975.
LAMB: We're running out of time. And we haven't even started talking about what we could talk about. Are the Americans getting at all leery of the way the Israeli's are handling the intafada? Have you found people here in this country that are mad at you?
SHARON: I think not all the people here understand that it's a war. It's a war which different methods are used. It's a war. It will take Israel in the last days an Israeli soldier was killed in Naught. A bus driver was stabbed on road to Jerusalem. An Israeli worker was killed by his by his by Arab that worked together with him. As a matter of fact the same one that stabbed the driver and buried. And before he killed him he cut his lips. He took out his eyes and skinned him. And he said that he don't feel anything..that he had done anything wrong because he killed a Jew. I think that people here do not understand that we are facing a war. And they don't know they are not knowing now. It's written today and I saw it today in the New York Times a story about the brutality of Arabs dealing with other Arabs. I mean they are killing them because they will not cooperate. Or they will not accept the P.L.O. as the sole representative of them. They kill them. They murder them. They bury them alive. They do the most terrible thing that people here would not understand. It's hard even to explain. You know sitting here it's so nice here. It beautiful and it's so friendly. We cannot judge those murderers those terrorists by our moral values. It's a different thing.
LAMB: Okay. Let me get back to the question though. Are you getting hurt in this country by the intafada relationship by the murders and all that are going on back and forth?
SHARON: I think that a damage was caused to Israel and therefore I believe that Israel had to bring to an end these violence and terror called intafada as early as possible because they suffer politically. It was damage to the image of Israel and a thing that Israel should act maybe more in a more fast way to bring it to an end. Because I don't see any possibility to move forward to the peace unless we well be able to overcome it. It will be peace in the Middle East once it will be wider. It should be quite you know to be able to discuss and negotiate.
LAMB: Unfortunately we are over the limit and here is the book. It's called "Warrior." It's written by David Chanoff with I mean Ariel Sharon's book with help from David Chanoff who as Sharon told us is from Boston. Thank you very much for your time.
SHARON: Thank you. Thank you.
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