Image 1 of 16: Ariel Sharon has been sleeping for over 5 years. He responds to pokes & opens his eyes reflexively. The 82 year-old, war hero
to some, war criminal or alternatively Butcher-Bulldozer to others, led & 'defended' Israel 2001-2006, staunchly in the name of
security, but now finds himself increasingly defenseless against a rapidly changing region.
Image 1 of 16: July War of 2006, Israel's Grapes of Wrath: Sharon just missed this war, and given his past activity in Lebanon, namely his hand in (not preventing) the Sabra & Shatila massacre, he would not want to have missed out. Israel miscalculated,
without the supervision of experienced, retired, army general Sharon, the military strength of Hezbollah.
Image 1 of 16: Gaza War: Israel, with Lebanese civilian blood, not to mention infrastructural carnage that set Lebanon back to Civil War times,
on its hands, came out the big disproportionate bully post Lebanon. Israel's Operation Cast Lead, or
Gaza Invasion, threatened to wipe the 'Strip' to a pulp, and did nothing for its image as a peace-loving nation.
Image 1 of 16: The Arab Spring has left Israel with a bunch of jump-started empowered & rampantly revolutionary Arabs for neighbors.
Not least of all in their very back yard, with the Palestinians getting notions of Spring into their head. Bordering Egypt
is highly volatile & unpredictable, with cross-border skirmishes already haunting the specter of change.
Image 1 of 16: Bloodthirsty Arabs flaunting Arab dictators' scalps and baying for Israeli blood: With Mubarak de-throned and hospitalized,
and Gaddafi killed savagely at the hands of his rebellious foes, this is the stuff of Israeli nightmares. Sharon would feel like he just
surfaced from a very bad dream. Would this have happened under his watch?
Image 1 of 16: Sleeping once-leaders: This has-been Arab Dictator was one of Israel's few friends in a neighborhood of coldly
courteous, to hostile and outright enemy, Arabs. The signs do spell post-Mubarak bad news for Israel. Diplomatic
tensions saw the Israeli embassy in Cairo on fire, its flag replaced in an outburst of new, fool-hardy Egyptian pride.
Image 1 of 16: Enemy lines drawn in the Israeli-Egyptian detente: Spates of border clashes and a retaliatory attack on Israel since their killing
of Egyptian border guards. These security personnel were pursuing militants who carried out earlier attacks on an Israeli bus.
Protests demand a departure from the peace treaty 'friendship' betwixt Egypt & Israel.
Image 1 of 16: Challenging times in a sea of Arab uprising: Israelis then following this aggressive unwelcome in Cairo,
were forced to evacuate their embassy in fellow Israeli-friendly neighbor Jordan for safe measure, as crowds protested at the a
ambassadorial residence in Amman.While Sharon was still sleeping, established ties were wavering.
Image 1 of 16: The UN's Goldstone report apportioned blame to both sides of the conflict, finding Israel culpable of using
disproportionate force against Gaza as well as internationally-banned weaponry.
Israel accused the UN of upholding the report against one side more than the other. By 2011, Goldstone had all but renounced
findings that faulted Israel.
Image 1 of 16: The audacity of hoping: Worse still and most unnerving for Sharon would be his rude awakening to smell the
Palestine Spring (floundering at the UN's door). The Palestine Awakening headed up by Abbas's plucky UN bid,
certainly caused a storm at the UN last month, capping its UN aspirations with a UNESCO victory that hit a nerve at Israel-US
Image 1 of 16: Palestine's new dawn started with a breach at Israeli borders in May 2011 as a 'Nakba' Surprise: People
power knocked uninvited at the borders from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza in a synchronized onslaught. This existential threat was
easily rebuffed by Israeli defence, with Lebanon-Syria incurring some losses, causing a scene more than anything else.
Image 1 of 16: Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Israel's kidnapped boy-soldier would no-doubt cause Sharon to stir in his deep
sleep. The release of over a thousand Palestinians from Israeli prisons itself, as well as the power-boost & confidence resulting to
Palestinian kidnapping plots, would probably drive an awakened Sharon back to bed.
Image 1 of 16: Not just the enemy at Israel's gate: Israelis want affordable housing, turning their frustration at their state. Sharon's compatriots could not be counted on to keep the elusive peace, their clamor loud enough to have
woken him with a start. Israelis protested social injustice from the vantage of tents in Tel Aviv, within range of his hospital.
Image 1 of 16: Sharon slept through a White-house snub encountered by Netanyahu, who as arch-rival to Sharon, represents his
beloved Israel. While Sharon was not the most diplomatic leader, notably when he sparked off the 2nd Intifada by a provocative walk through the Aqsa 'park', 'Bibi' is no popular statesman, according to a leaked Obama-Sarkozy rendezvous.
Image 1 of 16: Has the exemplar of the chosen faith, Israel, fallen from grace? If Sharon surfaced, he'd learn of the 'depravity' of his
compatriots who recently got naked in the name of (Holy Land) art. Much to the dismay of the religious right, a 'tribe' of 1,000 chosen
Israelis took part in Spencer Tunick's mass nude shoot in the Dead Sea.
Image 1 of 16: No longer the only ostracized Mideastern player, Israel looks on askance as the Arab League boots Syria out, suspending
membership and imposing sanctions on this sister state. That Syrian forces
killed 71 civilians the previous 3 days, from a cumulative 3,500 over the course of the Syrian crackdown, cannot have
helped Syria's case.
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.