JERUSALEM, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's funeral on Monday was followed by the vast majority of Israelis and many viewed him as a "national hero." But most Israeli Arabs, especially those of Palestinian descent, have a different take on Sharon's memory.
Following his death on Saturday, after eight years in coma, many Israeli media outlets remembered Sharon's last years, the Gaza pullout in 2005 and how he had reached out to Palestinians at the end, seeking peace, but for Israeli Arabs, Sharon was no man of peace.
"He didn't want peace, he is regarded by many, including human rights activists and organizations, as a war criminal who never faced justice," Ibrahim Housseini, an Israeli Arab journalist from East Jerusalem, told Xinhua.
"When I think of him, Sabra and Shatila massacres come to my mind. It's a pity that he was described by the Israeli media as a hero. He did not advance peace, on the contrary, he worked to ruin the chances for peace," Housseini said.
On Saturday, when news regarding Sharon's passing spread, the Arab world celebrated the "death of a butcher," as many called him, remembering the events at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, when Christian militias slaughtered more than a thousand Muslim Palestinians in 1982 after the Israeli army granted them access to the camps. These deaths tainted Sharon's political career, as he was the Defense minister at the time.
Many Israeli Arabs argue that because of these events and Sharon's rough military stance regarding the Palestinians, no Arab Knesset Member (MK) joined in the panegyrics other parliamentarians gave Sharon during his funeral on Monday.
"No Arab person mourned Sharon, this I can tell you, inside or outside Israel, in the region," United Arab List MK Ibrahim Sarsour told Xinhua. "Most of the Palestinians here and on the other side of the line (the Green Line), think he was a war criminal, all of us know that he spoke loudly of all those massacres he committed against the Palestinians since he created the 101 unit, which was an assassination unit in the fifty's."
However, Sarsour underlined Sharon's last commitment to peace after Gaza's pullout.
"It took a lot of guts to take that decision, I have to admit he made a courageous move and made a great sacrifice, but me and most of the Palestinians in Israel never felt any sympathies for him even after this because he did nothing to improve our status in this country," Sarsour said.
"In all honesty, I can't say that those things he did were completely wrong, because he did them for Israel. He was brutal and held in no regard the surrounding countries, but he did what he thought was best for Israel, even if that meant killing Palestinians, who are my people," the lawmaker said.
Other Arab MKs also view Sharon's tough stance regarding Israel 's defense as brutal, but honest.
"I have no respect for him and what he did to the Palestinians, but I think if he would have been alive today, we would have seen peace advance at a much greater speed," Hadash MK Afou Agbaria told Xinhua.
"I'm not saying that he cared about the well being of Palestinians, but I think he did care for Israelis, especially Jewish people and he wanted to see the country thrive in peace. If anyone could have achieved a two state solution, that would have Sharon and those from his generation because they had what it took to take difficult decisions and make great sacrifices, not like ( Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu," Agbaria said.