Ariel (Arik) Sharon 1928--2014
I just read that our former prime minister and military hero Ariel (Arik) Sharon finally died today. Actually, he has been dead with no brain activity since January 4, 2006, when he suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Arik Sharon was a controversial leader and I was never one of his supporters, but I feel sad that he was kept “alive” on life support for all these years.
Some cynics claim that the reason he was kept alive at the expense of the state was so that his family would be able to collect his hefty pension every month. I hope that it was not the case, and prefer to believe that his sons hoped that their hero father would miraculously come back to life.
After prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, it was a great comfort to me to think in spite of the horrific act of his killer, Rabin died like a hero. He never grew old, and died at an important moment in history in the midst of a huge demonstration for peace where he was loved and admired by tens of thousands of his supporters.
Toward the end of his life, Arik Sharon too made a move to bring about peace: in 2003 he began to promote his plan for unilateral Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip. And in August 2005, all Israeli settlements in Gaza were evacuated, along with some settlements in the northern West Bank. This was a big change for the militant Sharon, but he did not live to enjoy any fruits of his actions, as four months later he suffered the stroke that killed him.
As they get older, leaders spend time reflecting on and planning their legacy. I am afraid that whoever kept Sharon alive robbed him of his. He was an extremely brave man, and it seems to me that he would have preferred to die like king Saul on the battlefield rather than be a victim of the technological advances of modern medicine.
"How the mighty have fallen" says the lamentation of David over Saul and Jonathan, but in this case perhaps it is another incentive to leave the family a living will.
PS. Listening to the radio the day after Sharon's death, I keep hearing politicians talk about Arik's "heroic fight" in the last 8 years. No one dares utter a word about the futility of such a fight. I hope that after the politicians, the saner voices of those who challenge the merit of such heroism will ultimately be heard.