Words of concern and sympathy poured in from all over the world after Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a major stroke. Especially striking were supportive comments from quarters that had once cast Sharon as an inflexible hawk -- or even a war criminal -- but who now gave him credit as a force for progress toward peace in the Middle East.
The condolences, however, were not unanimous -- and some critics made for odd bedfellows.
Predictably, a barb arrived from new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He's quickly become the most quotable anti-Semite in office today in the wake of his calls for Israel's destruction and his questioning of whether the Holocaust occurred.
"Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Shatila has joined his ancestors is final," said Ahmadinejad, as reported by the semiofficial Iranian Student News Agency. Ahmadinejad was referring to the 1982 massacre of Palestinian civilians by a Lebanese Christian militia at two refugee camps.
An Israeli commission of inquiry held Sharon, who was Israel's defense minister at the time, indirectly responsible for not anticipating the carnage. Sharon was forced to resign, which, at the time, seemed to end his political career.
Ahmadinejad, at least, was referring to events on earth. It was for the Rev. Pat Robertson, the warhorse of America's religious right, to bring higher powers into his critique.
Speaking on the "700 Club" last week, Robertson suggested that Sharon and former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (who was assassinated by an Israeli extremist in 1995) had been treated harshly by God for dividing Israel.
"He was dividing God's land," Robertson said. "And I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the EU, the United Nations or the United States of America. God says, 'This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.'"
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