The Spectacle Blog

Schiavo Sharon

By on 1.8.06 | 2:06PM

Ariel Sharon's grave condition has become a political event that can be and will be manipulated by the succession crisis in Jerusalem and the Sharon family troubles.

When and if the life support systems are turned off, Sharon will fail quickly if not immediately. Therefore all preparation of the state funeral now turns on that moment: security, transportation, accommodation. The funeral will be the gathering of the clans that defines the last of the 20th century order of battle: the ancien regime marching behind Sharon the way it marched behind King Edward's hearse in 1910 in London.

More, the funeral will be a sharp break with Sharonism, and this does not favor the unremarkable Ehud Olmert. There is motive for Olmert and the quarreling players of the unborn Forward Party (including the decaying Peres), to delay the funeral as long as possible in the 100 day run-up to the election in order to feed on the sympathy vote for a fallen hero.

At the same time, Sharon's eldest son Omri is under threat of jail time for corruption and is facing even more charges over other graft deals. There is motive for the Sharon Family -- two sons of uncertain political loyalty -- to delay the death while they work out a deal with prosecutors over the legacy of their celebrated patriarch See Horatio Nelson legacy and the betrayed Emma Hamilton.

The longer the delay of the natural order of things -- Sharon is Schiavo writ large -- the more dangerous and cynical the game. Olmert, Netanyahu, Peres, Peretz, Shalom, Mofaz, all of them watch for their moment to lay claim to (undefinable) Sharonism at the graveside. They just need a grave to start their stem-winding praises of Caesar.

And what is the U.S. risk here? Sharon was the Bush administration Mid-East policy since the fall of Baghdad in 2003. Without Sharon, without Arafat, without certainty, let loose the jackals of peace.

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