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Last week Haaretz correspondent Ran Reznick revealed that the massive stroke Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered apparently resulted from vascular disease. The disease, which most commonly appears among Alzheimer's patients, had been diagnosed during Sharon's first hospitalization, for minor stroke, a month ago.

At a press conference in late December, Sharon's doctors revealed his medical file, with his blessing. Vascular disease was not mentioned.

It appears that the prime minister agreed to expose his medical records, but only in part. The most important thing was kept hidden. The information Sharon and his doctors presented was partial; not to say, misleading; not to say, a lie.

Nobody forced Sharon to share his medical history. Israeli law didn't. Sharon chose of his own free will to open his file, to remove doubt about his medical condition on the eve of elections he was slated to win by a landslide at the head of his new party, Kadima.

His goal was to establish that he was fit to continue serving as prime minister. The exposure was a campaign move: "You can vote for me, my health is fine".

Not to say, a bald-faced untruth

But the message was wrong. Not to say, a lie. The truth is that his health was already impaired enough to arouse doubt as to his fitness to serve as prime minister. He had a vascular disease typical of Alzheimer's patients and the Israeli public had deliberately been led to think otherwise. It had deliberately been misled. To put it baldly, the public had been lied to.

Who did it? On the weekend Maariv quoted a "source at Sharon's office", saying the prime minister and his aides had not known about his condition. The source said they had learned of it from Ran Reznick's article in Haaretz. Only the prime minister knows whether he knew or not, and he can't be asked right now, the source added. "Our estimation is that he did not know," Maariv quoted the source.

One is led to understand that the only people in the know were Sharon's doctors, which would mean they were the ones who decided to lie to the people about his condition. If they were the only ones who knew, they had to be the ones to decide to hide it.

But why on earth would they decide any such thing? Why would they lie for him without him even knowing about it? Maariv didn't ask its source that knotty question. That is a pity, as it might have laid to rest the suspicion that Sharon's associates were lying, including by trying to pass the responsibility for their lies onto his doctors.

Cui bono?

The version that another anonymous source "near Sharon" gave to Channel 10 is more convincing. The prime minister's people were the ones who decided to sit on the information because of the disease's identification with Alzheimer's.

It makes much more sense for the decision to have been the act of somebody who stands to gain from it, which would be Sharon's associates and family.

The decision involved misrepresenting the prime minister's condition to the people. The underlying concept of that Machiavellian decision was that Sharon had to be re-elected and any means to achieve that end was kosher.

It would not be shocking if it turned out to be Sharon and his people who made the decision. His personal history, as politician and warrior, is studded with Machiavellian decisions (remember that "40 kilometers" as the Lebanon war broke out?)

Whoever made it, the decision actually was that it is okay to lie to the public because a lit in politics is free. No price. The fact that no outcry has arisen among the abused public just goes to show that indeed, the political echelon can perjure itself from morning to night without paying a price.