Ariel Sharon’s son says despite coma, his father is responsive

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By Joel A Moskowitz MD and Arlene S Moskowitz JD 

LA JOLLA, California-- The son of Ariel Sharon was the opening attracton for the San Diego Jewish Book Fair at the Lawrence Family JCC. On a table to the left of the lecturn was a single lit candle fronting a photo of Ariel Sharon. Before the remarks, it was noted that it happened to be the anniversary of the assassination of another former Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. There was a moment of silence.

Gilad Sharon, son of he who frequently has been called “the Bulldozer” because of his girth, autocratic style and military daring, was himself slender and had the appearance of an accountant. Actually, he is a farmer - who with his family works for the farm inherited from his father, where they raise cattle and sheep, plant and harvest wheat and vegetables. He quipped when asked about the farm “Are you interested, we are looking for laborers.”

A sense of humor threaded through his remarks. He began by appreciating that Havat Shikmin in the Negev is within the Sha'ar Hanegev sister region of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County. The farm is not so isolated that Gaza rockets cannot find it. Gilad Sharon said within the year a yellow school bus, was hit by an anti-tank rocket killing a boy aboard.

Conceivably the audience was thirsting for an insider's commentary about the long career of a dynamic and controversial Israeli military officer and politician. Gilad said that he was the guardian and archivist of the extensive records that his father kept over his many years in public life, including love letters. “They were not shy” he said. With so much to choose from, it might have been daunting to prepare a brief talk. Sharon’s son and author of his new biography elected to share three anecdotes. One had to do with an instance where his mother Lili and hisfather were invited to fish with President Joseph Mobuto from the African nation of Zaire. Although a totally novice angler, his mother was more successful than the African leader. To avoid an international incident, the security staff moved fish his mother had caught to the African’s bucket.

In another incident, his mother expressed wonder about the anatomical reversal of the heads of the chicken they were served. It was not chicken but rather ‘bats’! Gilad’s prepared remarks concluded in some 30 minutes and the floor was opened to questions from the audience.

Asked about his father's health status. Gilad said that his father was responsive. The record was that Sharon, while still in office, had suffered a ‘small’ stroke followed by a major stroke in excess of six years ago. News reports are inclined to be less than optimistic. He has been described as being in a persistent vegetative state. There has been some division about whether to discontinue medical support. A persistent vegetative state is almost universally thought to be non-reversable. Gilad volunteered that he and his family see his father daily. And his father is able to move his fingers on command. Not having examined Ariel Sharon, any medical opinion must be reserved.

Gilad said Ariel Sharon had respectful and sautory relationships with Anwar Sadat, King Hussein and King Abdullah (Hussein’s son). Hussein once offered Sharon a precious Arabian horse. Sharon demurred saying that gifts to officers of the Israeli state had to be made available for viewing. Nevertheless, when Gilad Sharon rides on horseback on his farm, he sometimes encounters Bedouins who inquire, “Is that the horse given by King Hussein?”

Sharon was asked if he had any political aspirations. He quipped, “Would you vote for me?” Some members of this friendly audience doubtlessly would.

Himself a resrve major in the Israel Defense Forces, Gilad frequently writes a column in a major Israeli newspaper. He holds a degree in Economics. His work, Sharon - The Life of a Leader published by Harper Collins has been lauded as an insightful portrait of Sharon who dedicated his life to the State of Israel and was a major force in the turbulent Middle East. Ariel Sharon had many crises in his life - the loss of his first wife, his eldest son, and another son and himself being plagued by negative press and legal misadventures. The life of Ariel Sharon, most would agree, is a vibrant portrait of a hero of State of Israel.

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Joel and Arlene Moskowitz are freelance writers based in La Jolla, California. They may be reached at [email protected]

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