I wrote that I was on the fence between two sides of a debate about Gilad Shalit. I explained that one side is ready to do all that is necessary to finally bring Gilad home; and one side refuses to trade 1,000 terrorists and murderers for one Israeli soldier. Between the two are many who want so desperately to see Gilad home and yet understand so completely what will happen if this trade is confirmed. I wrote that I sat there on the fence because…because it is the easiest place to be.
To stand on the side willing to trade 1000 for Gilad means to accept responsibility not if, but when, these terrorists kill again. It means knowing that Gilad’s parents will celebrate and Gilad will come home…and in the future, even the near future, other parents will know the sorrow of Gilad’s parents…but the price will be 2,000. To sit there means to know that in the future, other parents will mourn, and there will be nothing left to trade, just endless sorrow.
To sit on the side against the trade means to accept responsibility that Hamas may kill Gilad and worse, they may say they did…and then that they didn’t…and then that they did…and then that they didn’t. And each time will be agony; each will be unbearable sorrow. It means knowing Gilad may never come home. It means turning our back, even just a little, on our own sons, knowing that what we now say we cannot do for Gilad, we can never agree to do in the future.
To sit in the middle is to say I understand both sides, agree with both sides and can’t make up my mind because it is too painful. It means saying my heart and love go with Gilad…and with the parents who will yet bury their children if this deal goes through. It means looking at my son and not having to answer … what if…
But, the truth is…I lied.
I’m not on the fence. It’s easier to admit to being on the fence than think of looking at Gilad’s parents and telling them no. Not for Gilad, not for any soldier. I can’t bring myself to write the words that come into my mind. It’s a game I’m playing with myself. If I don’t write my son, Elie’s name, I don’t have to imagine the scenario.
If I were Gilad’s parents, I would have done all that they have done; gone to every door, every capital in the world. I would have done all that they have done, as they have done it…if I could find the amazing strength and courage. All they have done is what loving parents should do. I find no fault with a word or action they have done. All that they have demanded…is what every parent can and should demand.
If it were me, I might just as easily have crawled into a corner and sat there for all these three long years and beyond. I’m not sure, in their situation, if I would have shown the wisdom, the character, the strength, the courage to put one foot in front of the other, to laugh, to talk, to live. Even breathing seems more than can be expected.
If I were the Prime Minister of Israel, I might quit over this decision alone. I would not want to be there, to tell Gilad’s parents that the answer is no. Oh God, the answer has to be no. What agonies of the heart they must feel, what pain our Prime Minister must inflict. But no, we cannot release 1,000 prisoners, not for any single Israeli. Not the Prime Minister himself, not the President, the Chief Rabbi, not even for a child, not even for Gilad.
We can release one, even two – no matter what horrible crimes they have committed, no matter how much blood is on their hands. We could do this for Gilad. We could release Marwan Barghouti, with his disgusting smug look. He is what the Palestinians believe will lead them into the future. He is a killer who has organized without thought or regret, even gleefully, the deaths of dozens of Israelis. Our courts examined the evidence…and sentenced him to five consecutive life terms. This is not a leader, this is a murderer, the worst, the lowest. Take him, I would say to the Palestinians – take him for Gilad. Him, but not more.
One thousand – one thousand who have killed how many? One thousand…who will return and kill how many more?
I lied and I have to tell the truth. If the decision were mine…and I thank God every day it is not…I would refuse the deal. I would tell the Palestinians no, not for Gilad, not for anyone. Take me and let Gilad go; pick one Palestinian prisoner – anyone you want and I’ll trade him, but no.
And then, I would reach inside myself and tell Gilad’s parents. I would listen to the sound of their hearts breaking and know that I had caused it. I would feel guilt beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life and know that it was a feeling that would haunt me for the rest of my life.
And I would know that I have lied to myself for the last time. No, God, no. Not even for my son, who I love more than words can express. Not for him…would I let other parents bury their children in the future. Not even for my own…and Gilad is one of mine too. That’s what it means to be a soldier’s mother…we become, in so many ways, mother to them all.
And with that, with a heart breaking and tears that may never end, I admit the truth. We cannot release 1000 prisoners, not even for Gilad.
It is because past governments have released killers not even for living human beings, but corpses, that Israel now finds itself in this position. It is truely frightening knowing what awaits no matter which side of the decision finally becomes the reality. I most certainly do not envy the Shalit family and I pray every day for Gilad.
this post sums up how I feel SO well.And I was as sure as you until my soldier son said “anyway they will kidnap soldiers, maybe this way they will stay alive. A soldier has to know that there is hope.” “You can not fight terror.” But even so, I think I agree with you. But oh my G-d, I don’t know if I could live with myself if I had to tell his parents “NO”.
This is what Tzvi Fishman recently wrote about the dilemma: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Blog.aspx/4
Yes, it’s time to free Gilad Shalit. By turning off the electric supply to Aza. By enforcing a total embargo by land and by sea. By shutting down the Temple Mount to Arabs, By putting the PA hierachy in Ramallah under seige. By assassinating the Hamas leadership, one after the next. By returning to Gush Katif. There’s lots of ways to get Gilad back without releasing 1000 terrorists.
All we need is a leader with a real Jewish head and a proud Jewish heart, who knows that we are the giants and they are the ants.
The guy makes a good point. Who says our choice is limited to the devastating, heart-breaking, soul-wounding choice of 1000 or “no”?
That decision is a hard one for any politician. They age so quickly, Obama looks 10 years older than he did a year ago. Maybe its easier to have a policy that the government will not negotiate with terrorists, like here in the US.
God is in control. Our ways are not His…our timing is certainly not His. My prayer for my military family friends is that He will strenthen their hearts and bring them comfort and peace.
There are limits.I too am glad that I am not faced with that decision, it is terrible.
I cannot imagine the pain that Gilad’s parents are in, but I can’t imagine releasing so many for one.
It only encourages future kidnappings. Easy for me to say from 10k miles away, but…
Paula, I’m right there with you. Right there. Even if my sons aren’t in uniform (yet), you know exactly where my eldest boy’s high school and how he gets back and forth. And the answer MUST be no. BatAliyah’s suggestions work for me. Let’s make HER prime minister…
Paula, you’re not really placing the blame or responsibility where it should be. It is not the fault of the Prime Minister, or any other Israeli that Gilad’s parents’ hearts are broken. The fault lies exclusively with Hamas. It is not Israel or its government causing them this heartbreak, it is Hamas, who captured their son and cruelly decided to try and use him as a pawn. Besides, even if there was a swap deal, Hamas might just kill him anyway, and return his corpse to his parents – Hamas is so amoral, I wouldn’t put it past them. Hamas created the situation, and THEY are solely responsible – no one else.
He was essentially dead once Hamas got their hands on him. It is those vile terrorist animals who have deliberately inflicted this pain on the Shalit family and Israel as a whole as a new form of terrorism. I live in America, and I don’t have children, but I want you all to stay strong, because his fate was sealed once he was captured. I feel horrible saying this, but his life is not worth the innumerable lives that releasing those terrorist swine would cost. What is the value of a human life? I don’t know, but it certainly isn’t the lives of many of Gilad’s fellow Israelis, and I’m sure even he would agree with that.
I look at his picture, and I think of this kid who never had a chance to get married and have kids, or have a life outside the military. It’s not his fault, but I don’t think his death will be in vain. Because of him, new protocols will be put in place to (hopefully) prevent this from ever having to happen to any other Israeli parents. If I know the IDF, they’ve already changed something because of this, and that is a good thing – as strange as that may sound.
Sorry to be so long winded, but you sounded like you needed it. Pray for Gilad, for his soul shall surely soon rest with HaShem, and his suffering will be at an end. He will come into the presence of the Almighty, and This, too, Shall Pass.
I couldn’t allow this or my government to do this even if it were for my own child. I couldn’t accept loosing 1000 animals on other people’s children to save my own. That is the issue. There should have been no deals other than loosing death and destruction on the leaders of Hammas and their combined families until this soldier was returned. I have to accept every day that my son died for an ideal and to save people from these same animals that have this soldier.I have to also accept that there are far too many of my countrymen who see my son as the problem. I’m not sure why the world is like this, all I know is that I’m very tired of it.
Theoretically, I agree with you, but not at this stage of the game. The time to have said No was on day one. Once Olmert/Livni/Barak bungled the initial stages of negotiations (no talks without proof that he is alive and no talks without regular Red Cross visits would have been a good start), Israel is left with very little choice but to haggle over the numbers. Having gone this far, to then turn round and say No is signing Gilad Shalit’s death warrant.
I pray daily for his release and add that as the father of (currently) two serving soldiers, one reservist and the father-in-law of another reservist, that I never have to be in the postion of Noam Shalit. I don’t know if I would be capable of telling our Prime Minister, “Tell them ‘No deal'”.
i agree israel is way passed the point of saying no. just that they even listened to a proposed deal weakened their position and made them vulnerable.
Israel, it is time to instate the death penalty for terrorists.
I saw an article recently which said 52% of Israelis would give “any price” for Gilad. I made me (a Christian) think of Isaiah 43, verses 3-4, which read (in my translation)”For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour: I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for you. Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honourable, and I have loved you: therefore will I give men for you, and people for your life.”
I think all Israelis know this deal is crazy, yet I see something very special in it – a love which cannot count the cost, which inflicts pain on itself simply because it cannot bear Gilad to remain in the hands of the enemy. And yes, the deal is still crazy, and my brain still says not to go ahead.