This month a report came in that Ariel Sharon had stirred from his 5-year slumber. Apparently, he has been flinching and giving signs of life in response to stimulus such as pinching and sound. He has moved his fingers. While this digital reflex is enough to render hope to his son, it is not enough to declare an 'Israeli Awakening' at all comparable to the Arab predecessor or 'Spring'.
Some theories hold that he is the Messiah. In that vein then, has the Arab Awakening been the forerunner for the Messiah's second coming or awakening?
Mr Sharon, 82, has been in a coma since 2006 and is currently in a care facility in Ra’anana, near Tel Aviv. As an Israeli statesman and retired general who served as Israel's eleventh prime minister, in the Arab world he is known variously as Bulldozer, War Criminal and Arab or 'Baby' Butcher. And though he was a longtime friend of the settler movement, heading up Likud's new moderate arm, Kadima, that facilitated the disengagement from Gaza, he was disliked in the end even by settllers.
His son is using his father's deep sleep to get productive, with Gilad Sharon publishing a biography of his father’s life titled “Sharon: The Life of a Leader”, newly released in Hebrew and English, which he has been working on for the duration of his father's coma thus far. His Arab enemies are using his Time-Out to revolutionize their landscape that Sharon fell asleep in.
In the meantime, while he was sleeping, what has snoozing Sharon been missing? Food and nutrition have obviously been absent, though his son also reports some weight gain in the space of his 5 year intravenous regime. What follows is a summary of some signifcant happenings while Sharon was sleeping.
For one thing, he slept through Hezbollah's perceived and boasted triumph to have challenged its stronger neighbor and inflicted Israeli casualties in a sustained resistance campaign that won national Arab support region-wide.
If Ariel Sharon were to awake from his five-year coma, he would find a changed Israel. Just after his stroke, Hamas won control of Gaza in the January 2006 elections. He would barely recognise the Middle East. His is a changed region in a fast-changing world. While it is generally accepted that his diagnosis of a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke early 2006 leaves little prospects of life after sleep, if a Disney or Messiac miracle were to befall this Israeli champion, he might awaken to a very different looking regional landscape. Still a warzone, his Middle East has not been visited by peace just yet. That much has not changed. Revolution though has struck with gusto. His neighbors and even his own folk who caught the protest bug by their proximity to it, have already made some tangible changes on the ground. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya have ousted their dictatorships. Even the West has contracted revolutionary flu after a brief state of dormancy over Spring, now fully errupted and 'occupying' the world's streets with a particularly virulent strain in Europe.
Al Bawaba sets the scene for the absurd awakening that would beset a time-warp stuck Sharon if he were to wake up in the winter of 2011. He would be greeting by radical change and that curious lack of change that only accompanies the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet rapid change has infected the region, and indeed world of late, such that he would certainly need to blink twice and pinch himself to check he wasn't (still) dreaming.
He stayed comatose through Barak Obama’s dramatic and captivating presidential election, as well as the London terror attacks that shook the Underground and terrified those above.Israel is generally less secure, in spite of a life long endeavor of vying for security. Netanyahu, elected to Prime Minister 2008, has embarrisingly been shunned by his host Obama during an official visit, and gossiped about by Obama with Sarkozy since. Israel has gone to the dogs, (to borrow a casual figure of speech) it could well seem from Sharon's hypothetical aroused vantage point. Israel might just be on the decline-- while all around it, change is afoot, the birds are singing of love and freedom as the brave Palestine Spring has passed-over into a defiant and stoic winter. Would this have happened under his watch, Sharon might ask himself, horrified that he turns his back for a year or five and finds his country looking uncomfortablly uneasy and nervous.