Like the triumphant England cricket team, Team Sharon is now embarking on their Victory Parade through the corridors of the United Nations. Like British sports fans, Ariel Sharon has been looking forward to this for a lifetime. Here is traditionally one of the world's most criticized and demonized men now being lavished with praise for what much of the world views as a brave, courageous policy of a serious world leader who deserves sudden recognition and support.
Who would have predicted such an Ashes result after the first test some weeks ago? Who in their right (or left) mind would have foreseen the change in Sharon and the increasing respect he now holds in the corridors of world power?
Now, on the morning of the day that Sharon will address the world in the General Assembly (in Hebrew – now that's a nice strong start!), we are already witnessing a sea change of foreign diplomacy. Suddenly, Sharon and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom are on everyone's invitation list. Everyone wants the Israelis at their table. Here's Indonesia (the largest Moslem state) allowing its FM to meet with Shalom as they did on Tuesday. Putin, Kofi Annan and Bush are pushing to the front of the line, as are the Canadians, British, Australians, the Europeans, Turks, and the Jordanians. Musharraf explained to the press how he met Sharon in the corridor, introduced his wife and they all shook hands. Qatar is encouraging the Arab world to make a gesture to Israel in light of the Gaza withdrawal and made some very profound statements of their own.
It's not at all surprising then that Sharon and UN Ambassador Gillerman are openly lauding the change in the UN attitude toward Israel.
I've blogged about this scenario recently. All this hugging, scratching backs and provision of international cheerleaders for Israel does leave you wondering whether there really is diplomatic light at the end of Israel's long stay in the foreign relations darkness. I have no intention to overlook the pain and internal stress caused by Disengagement but I am certain that many Israelis and much of world Jewry are irresistibly attracted to this very strange, slightly bewildering love for Sharon and Israel.
Do I have to remind you of all the horrific cartoons and articles about Sharon over the last 5 years and throughout his military career? And now, the same man has a 'lover' in every port – every port except the Palestinian one, where instead of immediately beginning to build a viable existence in Gaza, they're preparing to re-launch the anti-Israel debate at the very same UN session. Why don't they try to help themselves practically, now that they have the relative freedom to do so?
Unlike the Ashes though, Sharon's victory rests not on the laws of cricket and good sportsmanship - rather upon a set of diplomatic rules that not only change without warning but include certain written and unwritten provisions that apply to Israel only.
Without a doubt, we should enjoy the coming days of unique and not undeserved support and appreciation from other States. And yet, we must remain weary. It is quite clear, that Israel will fairly quickly find itself in the diplomatic desert should she not continue to give up other disputed lands – whether by agreement or even under fire.
A unilateral Disengagement precedent has been created and the world will not let us forget it. Israel unilateralism, at first widely criticized, is now likely to be supported.
You see, as well as speaking in the holy tongue at the UN, Sharon is expected to emphasize his commitment to Israeli security and to Jerusalem as eternal undivided capital of Israel. With that, and his public comments about settlement bloc expansion, it is unlikely that he nor Israel will remain international superheroes for very long.
It's sad but true, that Israel is very well-liked when she shows the strength to surrender land and rights without compensation or reciprocity. Any suggestion of Israel making her own demands and the world immediately runs back into its naïve and discriminatory shell.
The media failed in its moral responsibility to condemn the Palestinian synagogue destructions and very soon the UN and its members will have be faced with their moral choice, when al-Kidwa (Yasser Arafat's nephew) presents his unthankful, pessimistic and 'blame Israel for everything' speech on behalf of the Palestinians.
It may not be quite like an Ashes victory parade and in our case it's hard to fathom whether it constitutes a victory at all. 'Victory' is likely to be short-lived and could well be turned into ashes itself as Israel reserves the right to fight its war on terror and to express its desire to protect those things it still holds dear.