- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2014

President Obama may have come off as lukewarm in his praise for the late Ariel Sharon, but Vice President Joseph R. Biden on Monday praised the late Israeli prime minister in a 17-minute eulogy that included quotations from Shakespeare, the Book of Genesis and Irish novelist James Joyce.

Speaking at a memorial service for Sharon, who died Saturday at the age of 85, Mr. Biden said the former prime minister possessed “incredible physical courage” along with equal “political courage” and dedicated his life to his country.


SEE ALSO: Man of conflict: The late Ariel Sharon is admired for his unwavering defense of Israel


“Prime Minister Sharon was a complex man … but like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a north star that guided him,” Mr. Biden said. “A north star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated. His north star was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people, wherever they resided.”

The vice president also stressed that the survival of Israel was by no means inevitable and was made possible only through the courage of Sharon and his generation.

“It was anything but inevitable. It was the opposite of inevitable. Israel’s very survival was against all odds,” Mr. Biden. “Historians will look back and say but for the rare and unique men and women at that moment [such as Mr. Sharon], but for that, it’s hard to see how we’d be standing here on this day.”

He then quoted the Book of Genesis in saying, “Arise and walk and length and breadth of the land,” saying Sharon had done just that and knew “every inch” of Israel.

While in Israel, Mr. Biden also is meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials.