Suspended Animation

A Sharon Lookalike “Comes
Back” to Haunt Israeli Politics

JUST IN: After five years in coma at Tel Aviv’s Sheba Medical Center, the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to move him to his ranch in the Negev Desert. He’s not expected to regain consciousness.

It’s fair to say that the current state of Israel’s politics is less than optimal. Another round of talks with the Palestinians wound up like all previous ones, in the dustbin of well-intentioned but feeble efforts, and many in the international community point to Israel’s failure to stop construction in the West Bank settlements as one of its primary causes.
An attempt to require all new citizens to pledge allegiance to the “Jewish and democratic state,” the so-called “loyalty bill,” backfired and caused a small riot among Likud Party ministers members of the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Worse, a suggested solution by Netanyahu himself to also include Jews managed to turn the public opinion against him, and increased visibility of his political rival Avishai Braverman, one of the five Labour party ministers who opposes the new bill. And then there’s the Gaza Strip and then and then.
So guess how Israel-based artist Noam Braslavsky thought about stiring things up just a bit more? By promoting the “symbolic” reintroduction into the public sphere of the controversial former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Just his likeness, of course, since Sharon had a catastrophic stroke in 2006 and has been in coma ever since.
But never mind that. Meet “Ariel Sharon,” a life-size, animatronic-style, hyper-realistic sculpture of the former PM, resting on his hospital bed, eyes half-closed and, grasp, appearing to “breathe,” in an installation at the Kishon Art Gallery in Tel Aviv.
As to what Sharon, the man, would’ve thought of the state of his country’s politics today, is not just anyone’s guess, but also up to the Israeli citinzenry, its somewhat confused allies and its many and dangerous enemies to ponder. But there must be some who thought at least once about what if the man himself could pay his likeness a visit.

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