The news today that Ariel Sharon, Israel's legendary military leader and former prime minister, is near death brought with it second-order news: Sharon is still alive.
Don't blame me for forgetting. Sharon has been in a coma since suffering a stroke on January 4, 2006 (after which Ehud Olmert became prime minister). Since then, Sharon has lived in limbo, though showing "robust" brain activity.
Tel Hashomer hospital in Tel Aviv announced today Sharon is suffering from renal failure but not expected to undergo dialysis treatment. Haaretz reports:
A source with knowledge of Sharon's condition said that if his situation continues to deteriorate, it is "a matter of days." The source said that Sharon's family is currently by his bed and holding consultations with medical staff.
As a military leader, Sharon was a hawk. As a politician, the Bulldozer. But the end of his political career was most significantly marked by withdrawl from Gaza, a surprisingly dovish act for the old military lion.
He was, and remains, an iconic Israeli figure -- and that is not likely to change in death. There has never been any indication that Sharon might recover, despite the brain activity. And I have to wonder how many Israelis haven't prepared for this.