Roger L. Simon

It's nervous time...

… as the late Chick Hearn would say… as doctors prepare to awaken Ariel Sharon on Monday. [How can you make a joke at a time like this?-ed. Shows how nervous I am.]

But worried as I am for Sharon, and as much as I admire him, I wonder if he is the indespensable man. I wonder if anyone is, really. History seems to make us, rather than the other way around. Of course, we have to be ready to respond. I hope Ehud Olmert will be. Even though the Prime Minster’s chair has now been left open at the Israeli weekly cabinet meeting, I can’t believe this is not largely symbolic – yet.

MEANWHILE: This from Amir Taheri: While the al-Jazeera satellite channel was airing the jubilant utterances of radical Arabs over Sharon’s stroke, more moderate Arabs appearing on the rival channel al-Arabiyah acknowledged that the Israeli leader had become the Palestinians’ “most serious partner for peace”.

Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak has described Sharon as “a man of peace”, echoing his Tunisian counterpart Zin El Abidine Ben Ali’s “esteem and admiration” for the Israeli leader. Sharon also has a surprising number of friends in other Arab countries, from Oman to Mauritania, Qatar, Jordan and Morocco. In the wider Muslim world, Sharon has fostered a “working dialogue” with leaders in Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, with a view to establishing diplomatic ties.

Taheri goes on to say Isreal “should claim its victory” over the Palestinians – that this is the essence of “Sharonism” (Taheri’s phrase). Of course the columnist is an (apostate … or should I say genuinely patriotic?) Iranian, not an Arab. Still, it seems Arab moderates, at least in Taheri’s view, are ready to accept this and move on. Definitely worth a read.