While Ariel Sharon is still lying in his hospital bed fighting for his life, we are already witnessing a disturbing trend that we have witnessed before. While Sharon's health is being fought for, his legacy seems to have already been appropriated.
Just as we have witnessed in the last decade since the murder of Rabin, so we see with Sharon. Since the murder of Rabin, many Israeli politicians tried to gain extra prestige and authority by claiming their ideas as the continuation of Rabin's. The all too common, 'following in Rabin's footsteps' refrain was used by almost all of the 'Peace Camp' and even some on the right.
We must not allow politicians to rewrite history whichever side of the political spectrum. Already we see various politicians speaking to the media about Sharon's path. The facts remain that Ariel Sharon as a political leader was a pragmatist, he left Gaza not because of any great belief in a resumption of the 'Peace Process' but as a realistic response to the demographic and security situation. Sharon said on many occasions that he would not give up any security assets and would never give up Jerusalem, a statement he repeated in his last interview with the Japanese press.
Also using the Rabin example, Sharon must not attain unimpeachable sainthood. Since the Rabin murder any criticism of Rabin was akin to becoming Yigal Amir's accomplice. Rabin and Sharon were great heroes in the short annals of Israeli history but as leaders they were human and made decisions that we should all be allowed to openly criticise or commend.
Whatever the outcome of the medical treatment, Sharon has left his indelible mark on the Israeli political landscape. That mark should be left for all to comment, criticise or applaud. What we must not allow our politicians to do is become a prophet and claim their policies as Sharon's.
What we need now are bold visions, for a new generation of politicians to rise up and breathe fresh air into the political landcape with fresh ideas. The leaders of all parties have to create their own path and clearly enunciate it to the public and not rely on some vague notion of following a past leaders'.
However, the future does not bode well with pretty much only Meretz and Yisrael Beteinu clearly describing their vision of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli voter needs to know what he or she is voting for, this would be the greatest legacy that Ariel Sharon could have left us.