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Shalit Affair

Tough week for Gilad Shalit's parents Photo: Orly Zeiler
Tough week for Gilad Shalit's parents Photo: Orly Zeiler
 
 

A heart-breaking story

Ongoing Shalit saga a heart-breaking story because Gilad is not home yet

Shlomo Artzi
Published: 03.19.09, 00:07 / Israel Opinion

This is a heart-breaking story about one family that waited the whole week, along with the entire nation, for one kid to return home.

 

This entire week, and in previous weeks, we allowed the government to be vague and hide behind smoke screens while telling us about Hamas' scary lists; we assumed that they know what they're doing.

 

For a whole week, we naively sang songs for Gilad, published articles for his sake and for the sake of our tortured conscience, and attempted to decipher the "ethical code" of that IDF, which brings captives back at any price.

 

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We were willing to scream out "help me" on Gilad's behalf. We did it everywhere, and spoke about it everywhere. At our homes, at the cold protest tent in Jerusalem, and at work.

 

This is a heart-breaking story. Perhaps we have never felt what Gilad feels after living at some tunnel or basement for three years, at the mercy of his guards, without knowing what is happening to him. Still, we sympathized with him as much as we could.

 

This is a heart-breaking story. We never knew whether he hears us and whether he even has any idea that we so badly want him back home.

 

This is a story about a heart filled with sorrow as we watch the Shalit family, because we still remember the screw-up over missing airman Ron Arad. Neither blue balloons nor songs were able to return him home.

 

Many people I spoke with are asking questions such as this: Why didn't we conduct ourselves like our worst enemies? Why do security prisoners enjoy relatively normal conditions around here? Why didn't we use their weapons and their blunt rules, declaring that there are no more visits or information being provided about their prisoners?

 

Why didn't we bring him back during the war we recently embarked on? Couldn't we have set tougher rules? Someone at the top failed to utilize the right moment when it was possible to do so, or wasted time, or didn't quite know what needs to be done at the right moment. Someone at the top may have done plenty, but not enough. The fact is that they failed to finalize a deal.

 

They will likely say: "We did everything." But what does "everything" mean?

 

This is a heart-breaking story because Gilad isn't here even at the end of this critical week, several weeks before Passover, the holiday of freedom. Yet even if we were unable to score a goal in the last minute this week, we shall not get off the playing field defeated and despaired.

 

We will continue to be with the Shalit family from afar and from up close. We shall press Benjamin Netanyahu and tell him, from the moment he is sworn in, not to let go. Don't give Hamas a moment of rest and don't leave one stone unturned for this kid; because a moment may come where it will all be too late.

 

This is a heart-breaking moment with no victors, because those who are willing to accept tough agreements, and those who are not, are all right in some way. After all, there are never cheap deals vis-à-vis our bitterest enemies, yet we have the strength to withstand any deal.

 

This is a heart-breaking story about an entire nation feeling that the Shalit kid is our kid too…until he returns home. And this is a heart-breaking story because he did not return yesterday.

 

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