Tulsan keeping a close eye on Israel's ailing leader

Saturday, January 7th 2006, 7:11 pm
By: News On 6

Israeli and now Tulsa resident Itai Lavi is keeping a close eye on the news from home.

Itai Lavi "People are of course, very upset, very concerned, very worried."

Worried about the man they affectionately call "Arik" the soldier turned statesman who's played a major role in shaping the nation of Israel and the plans for it's future.

Itai Lavi "It's concerning everyone, the Middle East, American people, the European people the world community."

Head of what's long been the only democracy in the Middle East and an ally to America Sharon had recently launched a new effort to provide both better security for Israelis and the possibility of peace with the Palestinians. It's a dream Lavi and the majority of Israelis share but he also has a personal tie to the ailing leader. He used to live next door one day he had car trouble and went into Sharon's home to use the phone for help.

Itai Lavi: "Okay, I'll just wait by the car and I hung up the phone he said come on sit, have coffee with me."

He says the two discussed politics and even though they agreed to disagree he descibes Sharon as a warm and pleasant person someone whom people all over the political spectrum are now hoping will recover.

Itai Lavi: "If you look at the streets and the people who are probably Israel's enemies, some of the Palestinian authority and the people on the streets are very concerned, because as much as they disliked him or even hated him, because he fought against them so much, they knew he was a leader they could trust, if he said something he would do it."

Within Israel, a nation with three major political parties there may be differing opinions about Sharon.

Itai Lavi: "But everybody shares the respect for him. The respect and understanding that what he did, he always tried to do the best for the country."