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Gili Heskin Photo: Avinoam Talbi
Gili Heskin Photo: Avinoam Talbi
Noam Shalit Photo: Niv Calderon
Noam Shalit Photo: Niv Calderon

Hero amidst sea of hatred

Abducted IDF soldier's father should become symbol of peace

Gili Heskin
Published: 11.23.06, 11:11 / Israel Opinion

Please take note of this man: Until two days ago he was just "abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit's father," yet since his visit to Beit Hanoun to comfort Palestinian wounded he is already Noam Shalit; a man in and of himself, with morals and something to say, a message.


Noam Shalit is much more than a concerned father, and in my eyes should become a symbol of the Zionistic ethos. We already had, and to my regret are still destined to have, symbols who are war heroes: Yoav Ben Tzruya, Avner Ben Ner, Yehuda HaMaccabi, Bar Kochva, Hannah Senesh, Mordechai Anielewicz, Danny Mas, Meir Har Zion, and Yoni Netanyahu.


It would be good for us to also have heroes of peace. Those are heroes who became a model thanks to their power, because of their silence perhaps. Noam Shalit is like that.


In Beit Hanoun
'We're victims of same madness' / Moran Zelikovich
Kidnapped soldier's father visits wounded hospitalized in Tel Aviv. Shalit: Children, civilians pay price of useless war. Brother of Beit Hanoun victim: It breaks our hearts that this man’s heart breaks for us
Full Story

I look at him with amazement, admiration, and jealousy. I wonder where he gets his mental strength. His son, an armored corps soldiers protected by steel, was abducted by hate-filled, determined guerilla fighters.


Not "human animals" as they were characterized by talk show host Yoram Gaon in one of his shows of incitement, but rather, resentful fighters who were not the first ones in the Middle Eastern theater to abduct soldiers as bargaining chips. Just ask Amihai ("Gidi") Palgin. Ask Ehud Barak.


The State of Israel was caught with its pants down, as David outsmarted Goliath. I doubt whether Noam Shalit thinks about that. What's important for him at the moment is that his son is held by the enemy and his soul is wild with frustration, concern, and pain. I don't know how I would act in his place. I doubt whether I would display his mental strength.


His son, who is supposed to protect us as a member of the IDF, but who was also supposed to be protected by the IDF, was kidnapped. Noam Shalit preferred to withdraw into himself and his silence and waited for months until he issued his call not to turn his son into a symbol. Even this he did quietly.


Shalit, the father, is calling on the State to do more. Not screaming. Almost whispering. After all, eventually we'll be paying for his son's release. And still, he did not stand there armed with signs outside the prime minister's home, he's not burning tires, and he's not making declarations. He did not even become tempted by the opportunity to become a symbol of terror victims. He merely enclosed himself in his sorrow and grief.


Different voice

Two weeks ago, a disaster struck the Gaza town of Beit Hanoun. The disaster was both theirs and ours. We have wounded crying out at Sderot, and so is the case with them. We are burying our dead, and so are they. It appears the cycle of horror is growing bigger, Qassam rockets continue to land, the blood boils, emotions threaten to triumph over the heart, and fists are tightened.


We are fed up with the defensive ethos. The offensive ethos aspires for a victory. Minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer makes belligerent declarations in the media and it appears that again public opinion will dispatch the army to "teach them a lesson," bomb and bombard. Residents of the south are calling for a reoccupation of Gaza.


And in the midst of the turmoil, Noam Shalit suddenly emerged. He did not demand that his son's abductors be taught a lesson. He is not waving angry fists. Instead, he visited bereaved families in Beit Hanoun.


Noam Shalit presents a different voice. It is said that a man should not be judged through his sorrow, yet it appears it is the pain that makes Noam Shalit speak in a clear voice. Shalit stresses that the Athamna family and other families who lost their loved ones are exactly like the Slotzker family from Sderot and his own family from the Galilee.


They're all victims of the same madness, the same endless, senseless wars, which start with the firing of rockets at population centers, and on the other end see miserable, misdirected shells. The common denominator is that civilians are paying the price.


I, on the other hand, believe their hatred comes from the bottom. That their leaders only fan the flames of hatred, but do not invent it. They did not create the hostility, but rather, were elected because of it. Noam Shalit did not deal with this. He preferred to show them the human face behind the threatening muzzle.


Where does he find the strength to go and comfort the enemy? It's natural that he be asked immediately, with growing frustration, why none of them came to comfort him? Why didn't any one of them call in the media to release his son?


Yet Noam Shalit is made of different materials. He proved to everyone, to us and our enemies, that in the midst of the terrible sea of death that threatens to drown us, there still are islands of humanity, and human beings.


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