Elie is asleep in his bed. The younger children are already at school. I could use his help running the errands such as picking up the weekly newspaper, picking up the mail that has accumulated for the last few days, buying the challah (the braided sweet bread that is special for the Sabbath), and more. He was so tired last night that he fell asleep on the bus from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and didn’t awaken until the bus stopped in the Central Bus Station.
We had planned that he would call me and I’d meet him and bring him home, avoiding the final bus station. I was attending a neighbor’s son’s bar mitzvah celebration and left to meet him, but he decided, having already arrived in Jerusalem, that it was easier and faster just to catch another bus home. I ended up catching up to the bus a few stops before our home and so called him and told him to get off the bus for the final bus-to-door service.
He was so tired when he got home. Too tired to even eat. He grabbed some cookies; looked at some meat I had ready and decided it was too much energy to eat it (even if I’d heat it for him), grabbed a piece of cake and went to bed. I don’t have the heart to wake him and so even now, close to 9:00 in the morning, he’s still asleep.
This morning, children in southern Israel woke again to the sound and fear of rockets. A mortar shell and a kassem rocket hit Israel early this morning, around the time children are awakening for the day, and another hit near Sderot between 7:30 and 8:00 – the time children are leaving their homes and making their way to school.
Israel went to war to stop these rockets, and yet they continue. Yesterday, they finished counting the votes of the soldiers. In the end, the soldiers voted much as Israel did and the results didn’t change. But some soldiers chose to use their vote to send a message to the government. They didn’t vote for Kadima or Likud, National Union or Israel Beitenu. They voted on a blank slip saying simply “Israel wants Gilad Shalit.”
They voted for Gilad. It’s time Israel’s leaders wake up. It’s time the world stops dreaming. Gilad can be brought home with a national and international effort. I recently had a run-in with a “journalist” in Jakarta who used Elie’s picture illegally. I told him he had 24 hours to remove the picture or face an international lawsuit. The picture was down within 5 minutes.
Today, this minute – let the world say to Gaza – you have 24 hours to return Gilad Shalit or you will be removed from the United Nations, all aid suspended. Your representatives will be kicked out of all countries. Your people will not be allowed entry into Israel on humanitarian grounds or any other. Israel will stop the water we supply, the electricity we supply. Your phone system, that part that comes from Israel, will be stopped.
We will close all borders – yes, we are prepared to make one million Palestinians suffer…or, more accurately, you are prepared to make one million Palestinians suffer rather than do what is right. No mother should be separated from her son for three years simply because he wore green clothes and stood near a border. Gilad was kidnapped from Israeli soil and must be returned. When there is a united effort, the likes of which the Palestinians have never seen – when the United Nations threatens withdrawing all aid; when the Egyptians demand it; when the French and the Germans and the Americans refuse to deliver even one dollar in aid – humanitarian or otherwise, Gilad will come home.
You have 24 hours to return Gilad, healthy and well…if this answer is delivered the right way, my guess – within 12 hours, Gilad will be home. That was the desperate hope of some soldiers who gave their vote not to this party or that, not that woman or this man – but to Gilad. The time has come…the time has already passed. Bring Gilad home.
May God grant Gilad a peaceful and safe Shabbat and may He bring him home to a family and nation that waits for him.