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Checking In on Ariel Sharon

Four years after his stroke, he can wiggle his toes but not do much else

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Sharon lighting Hanukkah candles at his Jerusalem office, 2005.(Kevin Frayer-Pool/Getty Images)

Four years ago, a massive stroke sent Ariel Sharon, then Israel’s prime minister and one of the nation’s most decorated warriors, into a coma. The rapid pace of Israeli politics being what it is, Sharon quickly faded from the public’s consciousness; but now, with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more mired than ever, there are those who look to the ailing Sharon for inspiration. If Sharon hadn’t suffered a stroke, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told the Daily Beast for a sort of profile of the comatose former leader, “I think we would have a Palestinian state.”

But Sharon can do very little nowadays. He is in what his doctors define as a “persistent vegetative state,” not precisely brain-dead but incapable of doing much more than occasionally wiggling his toes when asked to do so by a physician or a family member. A television set in his room broadcasts images of animals, particularly cows. His sons are by his side, trimming his hair and playing music for his enjoyment. “There is a feeling of communication, of realization—I mean, the eyes are open and there is kind of, like, you feel that he feels your presence,” said Dr. Shlomo Segev, Sharon’s longtime personal physician. “So it’s not completely what we call a coma. Not a deep coma, for sure. But if you asked me to quantify that, I cannot.”

Ariel Sharon’s Twilight Zone [Daily Beast]

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Checking In on Ariel Sharon

Four years after his stroke, he can wiggle his toes but not do much else

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