But fear not. The inherent rightness of Kadima, and its urgent necessity on the Israeli political landscape, exists beyond the enormous shadow cast by Ariel Sharon. Sure, it took someone of Sharon's stature to make the bold move, but the party lives on regardless. Kadima was not just borne out of Sharon's desire to be re-elected: it was a reflection of the political facts that (a) Likud was always going to be lukewarm on disengagement, and (b) that there was definate common ground shared by realists inside both Likud and Labour.
Commentators are waxing lyrical about the implications of Sharon's untimely exit from the political scene, describing the election the way that most people describe Melbourne Cup fields. To these commentators, with Sharon's death comes the death of Kadima, stillborn, really, since it never made it out of the womb.
These commentators misread Kadima, and the political forces which led to its creation. The last twelve months has brought hope and optimism to the Middle East. For sure, part of it was due to the death of the stupidly intransigent Yasser Arafat, but part of it was also due to the political courage of Ariel Sharon. Sharon was prepared to back his judgement, take on the settler movement head on, and expose himself to the wrath of his own party. And the world ought be eterally thankful that he did.
Far from tiring of this progress and reform, Israelis are desperate for more. They don't want to return to the fruitless nationalism of the hardcore Likudniks, but nor to they want to head for the blind optimism of Labour. To Israelis, the Sharon of the past twelve months represents an 'enlightened hawk' - a figure who is acutely aware of national security but embraces the opportunity for peace that history has provided. This is the essence of Kadima - how else could old foes Sharon and Shimon Peres march under a single banner?
Whoever leads Kadima after Sharon, there is an emphatic need for the party to go on. The party represents all the reasons for hope for the future, and the spirit of realism which is the only way forward for a secure lasting settlement. Sharon's death is the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.
UPDATE, 11/1, 3:45pm: The mysterious 'Aunty' has very correctly pointed to a disgraceful cartoon which appeared in The Age today:
Michael Leunig has made a reputation for himself in the past few years as someone who is rabidly anti-western, anti-Israel and seemingly sympathetic to the worst elements of humanity. This effort today upholds that shameful tradition. Lame, juvenile and grossly offensive cartoons like this don't belong on the pages of a previously great newspaper like The Age. Surely there's an opening somewhere at the Green Left Weekly or The Guardian where Leunig can slowly dribble onto the page so he doesn't have to annoy the rest of us.