Ariel Sharon's will begin in less than 15 minutes. The news will tell you who will be there, what they will say. I didn't think I'd watch it but as it turns out, I will. When I think of his family, I'm sad for them. For all that he was, his sons lost their father and their children lost a grandfather. On a national level, Sharon has been asleep and largely irrelevant for the last 8 years.
But there is an interesting side issue here. I'd forgotten about it until I saw mention of it in Israel's major news sites. During Cast Lead and again during Operation Pillar of Defense - both times when Elie was in "open fields" and I listened to where every rocket fell, I remember now hearing that some had fallen on Sharon's ranch.
Ariel Sharon's home and his final resting place is within rocket fire from Gaza. In effect, his great idea to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza and destroy the Jewish communities there, endangered over one million Israelis - in Beersheva, Ashdod, Ashkelon. Add in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - both of which were hit during Operation Pillar of Defense, and you up that to at least 2 million. It also endangered his own home.
Israel has issued a stern warning to Gaza - not today, of all days. Don't you dare fire rockets towards this area. Thousands will gather there - members of our government and international guests, the Vice President of the United States, Chief of Staff of the Israeli army...all within rocket fire. I wonder how many eyes will look to the skies and wonder.
For now, as they wait for the guests to take their seats and for Ariel Sharon's casket to arrive, I watch pictures of the crowd - of Tony Blair laughing with others; of Knesset members on their phones looking busy. Of the Chief of Staff walking over and speaking his soldiers.
The news points out how beautiful the area is, Sharon's ranch and the area around it. The screen is divided - showing the honor guard - the casket and police guards as they arrive for the funeral.
The public has been invited - Ariel Sharon's final ceremony will be a national happening. The skies are the deepest of blue with a few clouds here and there...
What will they do if the Color Red siren is sounded indicating an incoming missile? Where will they hide? The people there will try not to think of it...the army will think of nothing else.
The irony of it all is that while Sharon claimed to be concerned with the security of Israel above all else, his funeral takes place under the shadow of Gaza's rockets. It is fitting, is it not? To be fair, we lived under this shadow before Sharon took office, before he betrayed our votes and decided to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza - but still, the shadow is that much larger, the missiles that much closer.