Sharons Life Hangs In The Balance. David Dolan comments on Ariel Sharons major stroke & its implications

David Dolan
David Dolan


I have had a growing sense for some months that Ariel Sharon might not long continue as Israel's leader. This sense only increased after the United States was struck by a massive and destructive hurricane just two days after the US-sponsored Road Map-mandated Gaza withdrawal came to an end last summer. I have similarly suspected that former PM Binyamin Netanyahu may be on his way back into the leadership chair, if not as a result of the elections scheduled for late March, then in the relatively near-term future after that.

Since I strongly suspected that the devastating Katrina storm might have been connected to Divine Judgment over America's primary role in pushing through the controversial withdrawal-which has now clearly been shown to have been fairly fruitless, with Palestinian rocket attacks mushrooming from the evacuated zone, and utter internal chaos engulfing it in the absence of Israeli troops-I suspected that the main Israeli partner in the pullout might himself suffer some serious personal consequences. Of course, only the Lord can say why bad things happen to us and others around us, and I certainly do not at all claim to know why Sharon has suffered a major stroke, and personally pray with many others that the Prime Minister's life will be spared.

Still, tonight the man who carried out the withdrawal lies on an operating table at Hadassah hospital here in Jerusalem. Doctors are working hard to save his life as I write. Meanwhile his powers have been transferred to Vice Premier and former Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert. As details of his critical condition continue to emerge, it is becoming clear that even if the veteran leader pulls through, he will likely not be able to carry on as prime minister, or at least campaign for re-election. In effect, Ariel Sharon's days as Israel's leader seem over. Given that opinion polls show that Olmert is a fairly unpopular political figure, and that the new Labor and Likud leaders have many detractors as well, political turmoil is likely to follow.

I recall joking with Ehud Olmert when I last interviewed him a couple years ago. At the time, he was Sharon's Industry and Trade Minister. I noted that his new office view-looking out over another bland building inside the government complex center-was not nearly as impressive as the one I had seen when I previously interviewed him from his plush mayoral office just outside Jerusalem's beautiful Old City walls. But knowing his unbridled ambition to become Israel's premier one day, I then quipped that, "But you will soon be sitting in the Prime Minister's office with a pleasant view once again!" He smiled over my comment, if not at the actual prospect of taking hold of the mantle of power. Little did I imagine how soon, or how dramatically, that would actually come about.

Ironically, Ariel Sharon's massive stroke attack, featuring internal brain hemorrhaging, came just hours after he was scheduled to visit the same hospital for what doctors were describing as a fairly routine procedure after his relatively minor stroke before Christmas. But as I had cautioned just an hour before this latest stroke occurred, in a taped news report with the Moody Radio Network based in Chicago, nothing is routine for a man of his age and girth. His massive attack also came on a day when many politicians had demanded he immediately resign after fresh information emerged connecting him to a huge bribery scandal that forced his son to quit politics earlier this week.

Late news indicates that Israel's Old Warrior may not survive. I first met Ariel Sharon in the early 1980s in Lebanon when, as Defense Minister, he visited South Lebanese Army leader Saad Hadad, whose radio station I then worked for. I have admired Sharon for many years. I often defended his controversial intention to drive Syrian forces out of Lebanon at that time-even though his tendency to push through his will using bullish methods, ignoring all contrary opinions (which was vividly demonstrated in recent months once again) was always questionable in a democratic state. Had he succeeded in ridding Lebanon of Syria's oppressive control at that time, the Hizbullah militia would have never emerged there, along with other negative developments that have torn at Lebanon's fragile fabric over the last two decades. It was my country, the United States, which vetoed Sharon's prescient intentions, just as it is America that is the main force today in pushing tiny Israel to take suicidal risks in pulling out of strategic territory not far from her main cities.

Sharon's severe stroke came on a day when some eight Palestinian rockets were fired into Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. A full 12 rockets were launched on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Gaza border fence into Egypt was once again breached today-this time by renegade Palestinian security forces using bulldozers. This may allow a new flow of banned weapons into the crisis-ridden Gaza Strip.

Israel's Muslim enemies are watching all of these events very closely, of course, meaning this is certainly a time when significant prayer is needed for all the people who inhabit the Lord's troubled, special land. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.