Today was the day that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was scheduled to have angioplasty to close the small hole in his heart that was said to be the source of his 'very minor stroke' of two weeks ago. Instead the country awoke to reports that the PM was still in surgery for a major stroke suffered while he was on his way to the hospital late Wednesday night. All in all Sharon was in surgery for over 9 hours as the neurosurgeons attempted to stem the massive hemorrhaging taking place in his brain. The PM is now in a chemically induced coma which will last at least 24 hours and maybe more. His days in government are clearly done and the country is now suddenly faced with a very new and different reality.
The radio stations were filled with solemn songs throughout the day and the country is in a somber state, with news and discussions dominated by talk of the PM condition as well as likely governmental and election scenarios over the coming weeks and months.
Ariel Sharon is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of the country and has been for the last 50 years. Founder of the mysterious 'Unit 101' which specialized in raids against terrorists in the 1950's and integral figure in the formation and development of the legendary Israeli paratroopers, his methods were oft ridiculed and called into question and almost always outside the box. Despised by the Left for his role in the Peace for the Galilee War in the early '80s and for his central role in the creation and support for West Bank and Gaza settlements; in the last 2 years the roles were reversed and he became despised by the Right for his sudden reversal and abandonment of Gush Katif. Even today, as the person who has shifted dramatically to left many have still not been able to completely embrace him and are unable to look beyond the past that they so despise. So, while his party was expected to be swept into office...he was still not a loved figure.
Despite his controversial persona the country is now rallying around the call for tefilla (prayer) on his behalf. While many disagree with his policies, both old and new, most acknowledge that he has contributed much to the success of Israel over the past 57 years and pray on his behalf as a hero of Israel regardless of his political policies.
Here's praying that Ariel ben Devorah (Ariel son of Devorah) sees a speedy and full recovery.