Maariv: picture of Ariel Sharon when he arrived at the hospital.
The quote says: â€I donâ€™t need you to take me to hospital, tomorrow I am going to be there anywayâ€. This was the angry response of the Prime Minister when his son Gilad wanted to take him. Even in the ambulance, when he met his doctor, Sharon insisted: â€œnow that you saw me, can I go home? He then collapsed.
Yediot Ahronot: Shows a picture with the title â€œPrayingâ€.
Haaretz photogrpaher Lior Mizrachi took this amazing picture of Ehud Olmert next to Sharon’s empty chair.
The news just announced a worsening of Ariel Sharonâ€™s condition. I planned to write this before the news and it seems more appropriate now. The newspapers are full of stories and articles on Arik Sharon and the void he leaves behind. I was thinking about how we as a nation have gotten to the point today that we feel this sense of loss. How did Ariel Sharon become Arik?
What made this man, a man hated and ridiculed by so many, the media, people and world opinion all of a sudden so loved? I am saying loved because there is no other way of describing it. You can feel a sense of loss and confusion. It shows itself in peopleâ€™s faces, less then busy coffee shops and the non stop broadcasts and at times misty broadcasters that recall interviews. This is a collection of excerpts, stories and experiences collected from a variety of sources. I hope it shows a true picture of what we feel here. It is as impartial as possible.
I was watching last night a special Yair Lapid show on Channel 2 TV. He broadcast bits from an interview he held November 2005. The interview was at his home in Hashikmim Farm â€“ there in the kitchen they sat down and in a typical Israeli straight forward, candid way, had a chat. I canâ€™t provide a script of the interview but here are a few quotes:
Yair: What is your biggest fear?
Sharon: Blind hate.
Yair: Tell me something people donâ€™t know about you?
Sharon: I like romantic movies, films that women like.
Yair: I heard that you never read the articles about you. Is that right?
Sharon: I wake up at 5:30 every morning and I only have an hour to take a look at the papers. I donâ€™t get much time. I get to the office and then I am there until 11:00PM sometimes later.
Yair: You donâ€™t take a nap in the afternoon, a break?
Sharon: I wish I did, but I canâ€™t do it.
Yair: What about in the car, on the way to and from places? Canâ€™t take a nap there?
Sharon: I rather look out the window, see the fields, the changing seasons. Donâ€™t want to miss a chance to see the country.
Yair: How do you pamper yourself?
Sharon: I like to take a walk in the fields and around the farm. Look at the livestock.
Yair: I heard that you donâ€™t go out to restaurants much. I believe it was 4-5 dinners in 4 years. Is that right?
Sharon: Yes, but as you can see from looking at me, I enjoy good food at home. It hasnâ€™t slowed me down.(they laugh).
Yair: Whatâ€™s your favorite food?
Sharon: I like the lentil soup we make here.
Yair: you have a special relationship with George Bush. Some people say that its because he canâ€™t really manage long sentences.
Sharon: I donâ€™t know about his inability to say long sentences. But actually who needs long sentences.
When I was a young man in the 1960â€™s, an article in the paper mentioned for the first time this mysterious young officer. He was part of a mysterious army unit, that was a topic of discussion, called the 101. It was then the myth surrounding his name began.
I wonâ€™t discuss the history of the Likud, the frustration of not getting the position of Chief of Staff or the days that we rallied against him, 400,000 of us against one man â€“ and we hurt him.
The years pass quickly as you know, maybe too fast. In the time line, everything rushes by us. As time went by, things changed, Arik Sharon started to mend his battered image. The man that at every step of the way was under repeated assaults, the big killer, became the man we all of sudden all needed.
It was a Friday afternoon, my cell rang. Arik introduced himself simply: â€Arik speaking, can we talk?â€ Two days earlier he was with Lili his wife at my show in Cesaria. He wanted to let me know of the emotional experience he had at the show.
â€œI cried at July Heat (song)â€ said the man that was not yet the Prime Minister, the man that you could not imagine shedding a tear, the tough man supposedly.
It was an embarrassing conversation where you listen to praise about yourself. I wanted to be honest and I told him I was one of the demonstrators against him after Sabra and Shatila. He laughed uncomfortably. I thanked him for the call.
The second call was when he was already a Prime Minister. It was in a mid week morning, I was at the recording studio.
â€œArik speakingâ€, he said.
â€œWhich Arik?â€, I asked.
â€œArik Sharonâ€, he laughed.
â€œYes, Mr. Prime Ministerâ€, I answered, embarrassed.
â€œCan we talk, is this a bad time?â€, he asked.
â€œSureâ€, I said.
He started quoting things I said in a radio talk show from the night before. He quoted me verbatim. Knew every detail. This surprising conversation continued and he went on to discuss the isolation in his position. He was very sensitive and at times I couldnâ€™t believe I was having this conversation.
One thing that stuck in my mind from this conversation. We spoke about the Left and the Right parties in the political arena. He all of a sudden surprised me and said:
â€œyouâ€™ll find out that I am in the centerâ€. This was four years ago and only after the separation from Gaza did I understand.
Shimon Kahner Lieutenant Colonel (Retired)
I met Arik in 1953 in the 101 he commanded and since then we were friends. He saved my life when I was injured 50 years ago in Nitzana where he personally evacuated me. When I was in hospital for a year, Arik visited, cheered me up and consoled.
We were good friends for years. Every conversation between us eventually circled to the livestock, rain and the pastures. I donâ€™t know anyone who was as knowledgeable in agriculture.
A common friend, Meir Har-Zion, attacked him viciously over the separation from Gaza. I came to defend Arik in the media. Arik called me and said: â€œdonâ€™t hurt Meir..â€
It was 2002, after he was elected the first time. We had a meeting at his office and it was a good meeting. I could tell he was uneasy. He wanted to say something personal but didnâ€™t.
A few days earlier I took part in a show, where Ilana Dayan the reporter tried to solve â€œSharon the riddleâ€. During the interview, I told her that Lili Sharon, his late wife, out of love and the need to protect Arik, increased his resentment to his critics and made him shy away from many. After her passing, Sharon went through a process of forgiveness with his surrounding, something that helped him to get elected to prime minister.
Sharon heard me on the TV show. At the end of our meeting he walked me to the door and quietly said:â€I wanted to let you know something about Lili. It could be that you are right about her, and it doesnâ€™t matter. Remember one thing. Lili is dead, and the dead canâ€™t answer back. Leave the dead.â€ A shiver went through me.
July 6, 2005, at the time that threats on his life were at an all time high, the Prime Minister went to eat at â€œRefaelâ€, a restaurant in Tel Aviv, with some friends. Security services got him quietly into the restaurant and the dinner went on for 3 whole hours. Lamb skewers were served, from Sharonâ€™s Hashikmim Farm. Sharon smiled and said: â€œI donâ€™t normally eat friends.â€
The next day, the chef received a call from Sharon. He thanked the chef in length and then said: â€œTell me, after all the food that I polished up last night â€“ do you have anything left ?â€
On weekends and holidays, when he would call me and get me at the national park or at the beach with my family, Sharon would eagerly listen to my description of regular life around me. â€œTell me, is the park busy? How many people are there?â€ he would ask, â€œare they having fun?â€.
During yearly Independence Day celebrations I would speak to him â€œfrom the fieldâ€. Sharon could hear in the background the music and laughing from the street performances and passers by. The sounds of Israelis celebrating in the streets made him very happy.
These were his most beautiful years. Almost five years since he became Prime Minister. Years of joy, late blossoming. Years of freedom. Years where the butterfly emerged from the pupa.
Ariel Sharon of the past, the one we knew, wasnâ€™t supposed to be. He wasnâ€™t himself. It started in the Yom Kippur War, where he battled against the entire defense establishment, and brought him to the stage after the Lebanon War where he became the â€œmurderer from the farmâ€. Ariel Sharon was then an angry man, petty, restless. Vengeful, resentful, bitter and chased. He was chasing himself, his own tail, anyone who insulted him, write anything critical about him or anyone trying to hurt his lost good name.
All that passed away as soon as he sat on the Prime Ministerâ€™s â€œbuck skinâ€ seat. He did it at his twilight years, against all odds, almost by chance. Once that happened there was no stopping him. He left the demons behind. He broke the chains, the deep freeze he was in, the restricting frame that kept him jailed, agonizing. He became himself again. He relaxed. He understood that there was no point in getting angry. No point in rushing. And he turned, back, to what he was supposed to be. A pleasant man. Civilized. Quiet. Sure of himself. A man of classical music, who loved birds and flowers, of tranquility. He came out of the shell, shook off the small Sharon, the maddening Sharon, that made him bitter and bothered him. He broke the barrier, crossed the channel of bad blood and got to an oasis of clear, clean water.
In these last few years he didn’t try to prove anything. He learned to forgive. Forgot the pettiness. Returned to proportions, the big picture. Started to blossom. Looked at things from up high, with a sharp focused eye. Like Gulliver in the land of Lilliput, like someone with the ability to see to great distances with clarity, even in the clouds. That never ending restlessness, that need to prove, retaliate, chase and capture, was gone. You have to decide if you want to win or enjoy yourself, they told him. He decided he wanted to win. And then, he began enjoying himself.
The collective heart still refuses to believe that we will have to live without Ariel Sharonâ€™s involvement in the public arena, but the collective brain has to understand that fate has determined that we will continue without him, and so we will, even if a big black gaping hole tears open in our heart.