Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thoughts on Sharon's Health and Political Legacy

Health UPDATES:

21:29pm (Israel Time) Hadassah officials: Sharon has suffered immense brain damage (Haaretz)

19:45pm (Israel Time) Sharon not in vegetative state, has retained brain and heart functions (Channel 2)

19:23 Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he wishes for Sharon`s death (Reuters)

Ah yes, President Ahmadinejad - a great and holy man. Such historical stature. No doubt the death of Sharon will prove the 12th, hidden Imam is on the way. Or something.

Sharon under deep sedation, and in induced coma for at least 24 more hours on a respirator. He continues to be in serious but stable condition, the director of Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, Jerusalem said Thursday.


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From an editorial in the NYSun:

[When] Mr. Sharon was elected premier, [he] remark[ed] in his victory speech, "Since my youth, I have devoted myself entirely to the country, to consolidating and building its security."

Mr. Sharon devoted considerable time last year to marking the 10th anniversary of the death of Yitzhak Rabin, another member of Israel's founding generation who went from warrior to peacemaker and who died in office before he was able to realize his dream of peace and security. Mr. Sharon's words delivered at Rabin's grave in November are worth recalling to day as Israel prepares to choose a new leader: "the citizens of Israel assigned us - Yitzhak Rabin then and me today, the scepter of fateful responsibility, not in order to remain stagnant. On the contrary, this deposit is an asset of faith and credit from the people, to act, navigate, lead and show initiative in order to realize the Zionist vision; in order to make every possible effort to end the bloody conflict between our neighbors and ourselves; in order to sustain a Jewish and democratic State of Israel within secure borders and a united Jerusalem as its eternal capital . . ."

A prayer for the prime minister

By Bradley Burston

Say a prayer for the prime minister.

Say a prayer for the man who could not be broken.

Say a prayer for our shattered present. Say a prayer for our shuttered common future.

Pray for the man who could not be stilled. Pray for the man who could not be swayed.

Say a prayer for the future only he knew.

Say a prayer for the people he has left behind. The Jewish People, the people he loved, at times despite himself, despite them. The people who could not bring themselves to love him.

Pray for those of us who once embraced him, and came to curse him.

Pray for those of us who once cursed him, and could not bring ourselves to forgive him.

Pray for those who call themselves religious and see in this, the hand of God.

Pray for those who call themselves non-religious and need now to pray.

Pray for the leaders who, unable to replace him, will now succeed him.

Pray for a miracle. Pray for all of us. Pray that we may know to heal each other.

Pray for this land. That it may know the peace that he never will.


Hillel Halkin's thoughts in the NYSun on Sharon and the political legacy he leaves behind:

A country on which a new mood of confidence had settled following the breaking of the Palestinian intifada and the successful Gaza disengagement, both accomplishments for which Ariel Sharon deserved full credit, is now a confused and worried one.

Mr. Sharon will go down as one of the best prime ministers in Israel's history, one who won a war against terror that was deemed unwinnable and restored a sense of direction to a people that had lost it. Yet if, as has often been said, one mark of a great leader is his making sure that he has a successor, or that there is at least a clear procedure for choosing one, Mr. Sharon fell short of greatness. In impetuously leaving the Likud to found Kadima, it never occurred to him that, at the age of 77, he would not be around for at least a few more years. It should have, though. That's not the kind of oversight that a meticulous planner like him should have been guilty of.


Iris Blog - which has been aggressively pursuing the medical angle from the first - has several intelligent observations on what could have been done to prevent this tragic outcome to Sharon's situation, including developing, as the US did before President Reagan was shot, a medical emergency plan, which saved his life.

From BBC reporter James Reynolds:

While Jerusalem is shrouded in an air of uncertainty, the mood is certainly not of shock or surprise.

Ever since Mr Sharon's first stroke almost three weeks ago, people have been preparing themselves for his health worsening.

There is a feeling, if not of orphanhood, then of bereavement amongst Israelis.

They know that, even if he recovers, he is unlikely to be able to carry on with politics.

He commands the Israeli centre ground in a way that no other politician has, perhaps since the days of David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister.

Mr Sharon has attracted the support of left-wingers who do not want to rule over Palestinians and right-wingers who do not want to negotiate with them, as well as the backing of the bulk of normal Israelis who are fed up with suicide bombings and who want a tough military presence.

Not only does he provide policies, he provides personality.

As someone who for 60 years fought in all of Israel's wars, he is considered the ultimate 'Mr Security'.

If they do not have this ultimate 'Mr Security' then a lot of Israelis will feel not only bereft, but insecure.


Ha'aretz provides more backstory on why Sharon was not hospitalized earlier in the day and his condition when arriving at Hadassah hospital.

Channel One television reported Thursday morning that Sharon at first resisted efforts to take him to hospital, insisting that he felt well enough to remain at home.

Once Sharon arrived at the hospital, it became clear that the severity of his condition necessitated general anesthesia, and Maimon and Mazuz decided they had no choice but to transfer Sharon's powers to Olmert. Sharon had finished working at 3 P.M. Wednesday and traveled to his ranch. He was supposed to have begun fasting at midnight, ahead of the heart procedure.

A medical team gathered around Sharon, who was accompanied by his son Omri, as he came out of the ambulance, and witnesses said he was brought into the hospital on a stretcher.

Meanwhile, there was debate in Israeli media Thursday over Sharon's evacuation. Some commentators argued that Sharon should have been taken to hospital in Be'er Sheva, a much shorter distance from his ranch, or airlifted by helicopter rather than evacuated by ambulance.

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