In Arab tradition it is not customary to say bad things about a dead person even if he/she is your biggest enemy. I am not sure that this tradition will work on most Palestinians regarding the Israeli king of the settlement movement, but for some reason the passing of Ariel Sharon after the withdrawal from Gaza and the long years in a coma have taken away some of the bitterness that many felt about Ariel Sharon.
Ask any Palestinian about Sharon and they will rattle almost verbatim the terrible things he has done. Gazans will quickly recall his role in crushing the Palestinian fedayin (guerrillas) in the strip shortly after the 1967 occupation. In Lebanon Sharon's role in the war to destroy the PLO, his unholy alliance with the Lebanese Phalanges and the role of the Israeli army in allowing for the Sabra and Shattila massacre will probably be the quick answer to many.
West Bank Palestinians have the image of Sharon with his maps planning one settlement after the other and his calls on the eve of the Oslo Accords to settlers to take over every available hilltop, still ring in many ears.
Sharon's legacy in Jerusalem can be seen daily by Palestinians walking down from Damascus Gate to the Al Qsa mosque. Halfway down a lWad quarters is a two-story house that Sharon took over as some kind of symbol of Jewish presence in the Palestinian populated neighborhoods of the old city of Jerusalem. A huge Israeli flag and a Jewish menorah remind all of Sharon's house. Close circuit cameras (among 2,000 in the old city) ensure that no one tries to bring down the flag without being spotted and no doubt later arrested.
The once disgraced Israeli defense minister (after 400,000 Israelis demonstrated against him for the Sabra and Shatilla massacre) did change once he returned to political legitimacy and became prime minister. Like so many before him, the Zionist theory is greatly exposed once it is put to the test of the reality that Palestine is not a land without a people for a people without a land.
But in the classic Israeli style, the Sharon awakening was partial at best. He obviously realized that the Jewish settlement of Nizzarin in the Gaza strop was not as important as Tel aviv and that 8,000 settlers controlling one-third of the tiny Gaza strip where more than 1.5 million Palestinians lived was unsustainable.
Not wanting to properly end the occupation as stipulated by UN security council resolution 242, the Israeli prime minister choose the unilateral track much to the anger of the very settlers that he helped nourish, and give homes and uncertain future to.
Ariel Sharon was the founder of the havrada theory, which calls for separation. Along with the withdrawal of settlers and Israeli troops from Gaza, the Israeli leader who tried so hard to crush the PLO and had violently opposed fellow comrade in arms Yitshaq Rabin, pushed for the building of the wall as a concrete sign of this separation ideology that was against any concept of peace or reconciliation.
But despite all the above, Sharon is missed in some ways. One could hate him or not but one couldn't accuse him of being an impostor. Compared to the current holder of the title of prime minister of Israel, Sharon would appear much more genuine and not a second car salesman trying to sell a lemon for the umpteenth time.
They say time heals. I am not sure that the death, injuries and destruction caused by Ariel Sharon have or will ever be healed. Sharon was often called a bulldozer both because of his physical size and the fact that his policies literally bulldozed Palestinian lands to make way for settlements. For some reason, Sharon's last years in power and his eight years in a coma have partially chipped away at that inanimate metal image and revealed a little bit of his humanity.