To put the manipulative clean bill of health issued to Ariel Sharon into proper perspective, it'd help to keep in mind the timeless observation of that eminent American philosopher Red Skelton: "The three ages of man are youth, middle age and 'you're looking good - very, very good - really good.'"
When the medicos announced that in their professional eyes Sharon looked good, they firmly placed him in Skelton's final category. As if we didn't know.
Neither did we need their omniscience to figure that Sharon's recent minor stroke hadn't harmed his mental faculties. The great mind-altering trauma transpired way earlier. That drama was played out well away from cameramen thronging the entrance to Hadassah's emergency room. The truly significant event was never reported.
Indirectly the PM's Johnny-come-lately boosters implied the occurrence of a critical cerebral episode when portraying the damage it wrought as a miracle cure for what they previously diagnosed as Sharon's chronic personality disorder.
They were aghast on October 4, 2001, after Sharon spoke sense and challenged "the Western democracies, first and foremost the leader of the free world, the US: don't repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when enlightened Europe sacrificed Czechoslovakia for the sake of a temporary, convenient solution. Don't try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We will not accept this. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism."
Sharon's numerous then-detractors were shocked to the core by his effrontery. But what they came to expect of Arik in his then-normal state was soon to change. Presumably after Bush's staffers took the trouble to explain to the president Sharon's reference to Czechoslovakia and what happened to it in 1938, he took umbrage and termed the analogy "unacceptable."
Mutual "unacceptables" marked the lowest point in the Bush-Sharon relationship. Thereafter a perfect meeting of the minds blossomed. Since Bush didn't change his own mind, we can only assume that something very drastic affected Sharon's psyche.
The once-troublesome and independent Sharon rapidly grew docile and obedient, acquiescing to any and all appeasement-oriented directives from Washington. As a result, 25 Israeli communities were uprooted and their folk scattered in the name of disengaging from an enemy who wouldn't let go.
SYMPTOMATICALLY, Sharon cowers before Condoleezza's commands. Consequently terrorist reinforcements and weaponry can be imported unimpeded via uncontrolled passage between Gaza and Egypt. Before long, Israel - again at Condi's imperious insistence - will be effectively severed to enable Gazans to traverse its sovereign territory en route to Judea.
Israel's sovereignty in the Negev is already construed as quasi-illegitimate, while Arab demands to intersect it are perceived as an inborn right that villainous Israel usurps from its virtuous implacable foes.
Such violation of Israel's integral domain was nonexistent prior to the Six Day War. Washington, therefore, leads Sharon not back to any status quo ante but to something infinitely worse.
Is the Sharon who facilitates this of sound mind? Or has the citizenry that allows these threatening travesties taken leave of its senses?
Only a mega-denial syndrome can produce assertions that disengagement works, or indeed that we at all disengaged.
The very suggestion by Sharon's cronies that electricity to Gaza be occasionally switched off proves we haven't disengaged, only carried out an awful vendetta against those the Left can't countenance. We still bear Gaza's burden. We provide its power, water, to say nothing of employment opportunities and trade. The number of permits for Gazan workers and merchants to enter Israel was just recently increased.
If Gaza's border with Egypt were de-facto opened, why shouldn't Cairo supply the Strip's electricity, water, jobs and business? That would truly return us to pre-1967 idylls, not just the judenrein aspect of Gaza's halcyon days.
But Washington's appeasement never ruled out rendering Israel's predicament worse than what it was on June 4, 1967. Hence the restraint expected from Israel towards terrorist rocket strikes against its super-sensitive Ashkelon-area targets - like the power station (which also supplies Gaza), the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline and huge fuel depots - to say nothing of population centers long ago considered legal prey by international double standards.
Sharon not only turned Israel into Czechoslovakia, but into so reviled a replica thereof that it appears to deserve whatever it gets. Not unlike the 1938 original. Before Czechoslovakia was sold out, Europe's perfidious democracies took great pains to defame it. Britain's Neville Chamberlain and France's Edouard Daladier avidly echoed Hitler's harangues accusing Prague of atrocities against Sudeten Germans. Outrageous slander was propagandized as fact.
The Czechs were demonized as warmongers, and enlightened opinion sympathized with Hitler's rationale for seeking to liberate oppressed Germans from the Czech yoke.
Even more familiar to Israelis should be the contention that by ditching Sudetenland and its ethnic Germans, Czechoslovakia would do its Slavic demography a great favor. Those Czechs narrow-minded enough to focus on the perils of divesting themselves of strategic assets were assured that territory is of no import in an age of peace and, besides, reliable democracies would guarantee Czechoslovakia's inviolable security.
Sharon knows what ensued. Territorial concessions didn't satisfy Hitler's appetite and he overran the country betrayed by its allies. That's what Sharon alluded to while his then-unimpaired analytical capacity was still manifest.
Can implementing the reverse of what he prudently warned against betoken judicious level-headedness? About as much as convincing ourselves that Sharon "looks good" so we can celebrate his rejuvenation, stop worrying about the competence of his deductive reasoning and deposit our fate in his trusty hands with no pesky qualms.