OTR Interviews

Youngest Son of Former Israeli Prime Minister Sharon Takes a Personal Look at the Life of His Father

Gilad Sharon shares personal side of his father, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in new book

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 24, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Right now, you get a fascinating inside look at what it is like to lead Israel a behind-the-scenes view of Ariel Sharon, who served as prime minister of Israel from 2001 to 2006 when he suffered a stroke from which he is still recovering. His youngest son wrote, Gilad Sharon, wrote the book "Sharon, Life of a Leader," and he spoke to Greta about it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Thank you for joining us.

GILAD SHARON, AUTHOR, "SHARON -- LIFE OF A LEADER": Good evening. I'm excited to be here.

VAN SUSTEREN: I want to tell you, I very much enjoyed reading this book about your father because it gave me a whole new perspective. I got a really good idea I think of the man your father is.

SHARON: "Sharon -- the Life of a Leader," is the unique story of my father, Ariel Sharon. It tells the personal, less-known side of my father, as I am, I would say, the most closest person to my father. And this book shows it come from the most intimate point of view that you can get.

And I found it a beauty to share the stories that I was exposed to, for instance, our endless drives in the farm while I'm driving and he's sitting and we were driving among the sheep and the cows. My father had always a very hard time parting with animals, even if they were not productive any more. I would said dad, if it were up to you, we would open an old age home for cows and sheep that does not give birth or milk, and he would say, oh, just give them another chance.

VAN SUSTEREN: But I find it interesting, the title is "The Life of a Leader" but in one part I thought it should be "The Life of a Patriot," whether you agree or not, because his whole life was Israel. And I think that an American reading this book understand what it's like to live under the threat of terrorism day in and day out and attempt to take responsibility for your people. And it's not something that we've been typically accustomed to until 9/11 ourselves.

SHARON: My father will always be known as a historical leader that defended the Israelis. But I show also the unknown part of him being warm and loving family man, his great sense of humor.

But you are absolutely right, he was known all over the world for those qualities that you mentioned. For instance, Prime Minister Blair told me in March, 2010, "I had a huge respect for your father. He was a courageous visionary leader." And so I agree with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know it was like he -- I think I got the sense that he truly cared, even with such a controversial topic, he was considered father of the settlements. But then in about 2005 I think he looked at, at least that's how I read your book, and decided that it wasn't working, and then he decided to remove the settlements. And that was someone who was trying desperately to find a solution to the difficulty that no one has been able to solve.

SHARON: That's right. He worked very hard for peace. When he reached the conclusion that this was the right action, the right act to do, he acted like a leader. He took a decision and executed it. I see no other leaders in those days or now that could have taken that decision and executed it.

But this reminds me that he always wanted peace with the Arabs. And the Arab leaders knew that, as well. For instance, on December, 2004, the Egyptian president said Sharon is the only hope for peace. So he was fighting terror, but he was fighting for peace, as well.

VAN SUSTEREN: And then there's -- the book starts with enormous sadness. His 10-year-old son, your brother, died. There seems to be a lot of pain coming throughout the book.

SHARON: As I told you, I take the personal side of the most important for me. The personal part of the book is the most important, and no doubt this event is the most effective event on our family, on our home. But you see how he managed to overcome the difficulties and even my mother's death years later and still achieve his goals.

VAN SUSTEREN: Looking at the world now, if he were in a leadership position, I know he's gravely ill right now, what do you think he would be thinking about sort of the Arab spring, the developments that are going on around the Middle East, and now Mubarak is no longer the Egyptian president. So much happened in the last six or eight months, what do you think he would be saying about that?

SHARON: The spring symbolizes blossom and renewal, and I'm not sure this is what we are going to see, because unfortunately it is going to be the same or worse. And that makes Israel -- we have to be very careful regarding what do we give and to whom, because, as Tony Blair told me in that meeting, your father led the Israeli approach toward peace, meaning in Blair's words, the tough road for peace. You cannot trust your counter side words. He will be tested only by his actions.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I didn't know this, he seemed pretty close to President Bush 43. In face there is one reference when he was at Crawford and President Bush 43 was waiting on him, serving tea, getting him cookies and driving him around in the truck.

SHARON: On that visit my father discovered a very interesting thing. He found out that the prime minister of that tiny little country, Israel, has more cars than the president of the USA.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's very interesting. There's one particular part of the book that I know all Americans when they read it, let me just read to you. You wrote it, it says "Israel grieved as though the attack," referring to 9/11, "had taken place on its own soil." And I think that says so much about our countries relationships that, you know, we are so very close and the fact that you grieve so much for us. And I think we finally got a little bit of an idea what life is like for you.

SHARON: No doubt that the relation between -- the relationship with the USA are the most important relations regarding Israel foreign relation, no doubt about that. And the connection goes way back. And the base of it is the mutual values of freedom and justice, and, of course, the war against fundamental Islamic terror that we share.

VAN SUSTEREN: I only wish that your father were -- that your father would have been able to see it and I hope you and I see it in our own lifetime peace in your country so that things will be much nicer, because even tracking the book, and it's day in and day out, and so many Israelis devote their lives to figure out a solution or try to protect people. It's kind of a lousy way to live. It should be better.

SHARON: We hope for better lives. We visit my father each and every day. We haven't missed one day. It's nearly six years now. And I'm very happy to see him because we love him. We miss him. We miss his presence at home. We miss his sense of humor. But we expect for the best.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of interesting. We see him as having been a world leader, a leader of a country, and you see him as a son going through many of the things that we all do with our own parents, where we take care of them and we have our own personal moment. It's so very different than what the public sees.

SHARON: Well, you know, the beginning and the end is my father. And that's how I see him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)