Arik Sharon - Do you see the myth...or the man
It is hard to live in Israel. Most people have to work hard to make ends meet. The threat of a terrorist attack is always in the back of ones mind. People who have brothers or sons in the army are always aware of where they are serving.
In this kind of an environment it is no wonder that many want the leader of the country to project an image of strength.
This is why Arik Sharon is so popular. His reputation of being strong and decisive, and his ability to get himself out of difficult situations, has helped to create an image of almost mythical proportions.
That is why so many are enthralled by him, even though he is also perceived to be corrupt. In a recent poll, Arik Sharon was considered to be one of the most corrupt politicians in Israel.
Then again, there are those who are not enthralled by Arik Sharon the myth, but see Arik Sharon the man.
Politicians who are in it for the long term are wary of Sharon, and see his new party as a flash in the pan. Those rushing to join him are those who have little chance of being elected in their original parties. The Likud Members of Knesset who are with him now are those who don't have a good chance of attaining a realistic position on the Likud slate for the next election. Chaim Ramon, who has had various ministerial positions as an MK for Labor, didn't even run for Labor Party chairman in the latest race. So far he is the only Labor member joining Sharon, although there are rumors that Shimon Peres is thinking of crossing over. (Did anyone say "loser"?)
Others who see Arik Sharon the man are those who have been hurt by him. In addition to the people who were recently forced out of their homes in Gush Katif and northern Samaria, there is another more famous person who has been betrayed by Sharon - Natan Sharansky. Initially offered backing in his run for Jewish Agency president, Arik went back on his word
and backed Bielsky when Sharansky refused to approve of the disengagement plan.