Gilad Comes Home

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. 


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Editor’s note: Today, Frontpage presents our “Gilad Shalit edition,” which gives a platform to the different perspectives on this most difficult issue. While the article below supports the deal that freed Shalit, Steven Plaut’s piece in today’s issue, The “Prisoner Exchange” Absurdity, opposes it. Jacob Laksin’s Faces of Terror profiles the terrorists who were released for Shalit.

On Monday and Tuesday in Israel all you had to do to experience depths and peaks of emotion was watch TV.

On Monday, there were pictures of Abed el-Aziz Salha, the Palestinian who joyously held up his bloody hands during the lynch in 2000 of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah. And of Amana Muna, the Palestinian woman who in 2001 used online impersonation and promises of romance to lure a 16-year-old Israeli boy into a fatal hail of bullets, also near Ramallah.

And of Abed al-Hadi Ganaim, the Palestinian who in 1989 forced an Israeli bus off a cliff, killing 16. And numerous others of that ilk—all of them, to the severe mortification of many relatives of victims, who appealed in vain to the Supreme Court, set to be released the next day to win Gilad Shalit’s freedom.

And on Tuesday, footage of transcendent power and beauty as Shalit—the soldier kidnapped by Hamas in June 2006—went from the depths of hell in Gaza, a solitary confinement in which his only “human” contact was his Hamas captors, to a brief sojourn in Egypt and then home to Israel. And this during Sukkot, an eight-day holiday that commemorates the Israelites’ long trek from Egypt to the Promised Land.

An enthralled Israeli public first saw Shalit whisked along by a burly, armed contingent of Hamas men and Egyptians, and then—gaunt, shy, and dazed—“interviewed” by a pertinacious Egyptian woman whose sensitivity to his condition was such that she tried to wring pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli propaganda out of him. But from there Shalit left the zone of darkness and cruelty and emerged into light and kindness—first checked by the chief army doctor at a border crossing, then flown to the Tel Nof air force base to be received by the prime minister, the defense minister, the chief of staff, and his father in a scene redolent of the Bible’s most heart-wrenching reunions.

And then, in a gorgeous sunset over the Galilee, his air convoy bringing him to his home village of Mitzpe Hila while an ecstatic crowd waving Israeli flags and singing “Am Yisrael Chai” (The People Israel Lives) awaited him. And a glimpse of the overwhelmed Shalit stepping out of a van and giving the crowd a single shy wave before finally being taken into the quietude of his home.

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  • esperantominoria

    I am glad he is freed BUT….

    Guys,things are really bad.The more I know about it the worse it gets:

    "Watch the Film Approved by Ahmadinejad that says He Will Conquer Jerusalem before the Imminent Arrival of the 12th Imam-Mahdi
    http://www.antisharia.com/2011/10/19/watch-the-fi

  • Ivan

    One Israeli, for a thousand Muslims. That says it all. Israel values life. The Muslims have no regard for life. Israel is willing to give away 1000 non-Jews for one of their own. It takes 1000 non-Jews to equal a Jew. One Israeli is worth more than a 1000 non-Jews. To save my son, I’d be willing to overcome 1000 others.

    • montlasky

      ….well put!

  • Ivan

    My son is worth more to me than a 1000 other people’s sons. My son cares for me, the 1000 sons of others don’t care wether I exist or not. My son does all he can to protect me, the 1000 sons of others don’t care for me, they want me dead. Sure! I’d prefer to have mu son around me than a 1000 sons of others who would want me dead. To get my son back, I would be, absolutely, willing to give away 1000 sons of others. It’s not that I don’t value the 1000 sons of others, it is that I value my son more. If the 1000 sons were killers, my act of releasing them, is an act of mercy. It is like a rope of grace given to each one. If used correctly, they will be empowered to act righteously, encouraged by the mercy. If they misuse the rope mercy and grace, the rope they misuse is the very rope that will hang them. In other words, their own continued misdeeds, is what will ultimately kill them, not my won hands. Shalit received back, is a perfect blessing that far, far outweighs have to surrender 1000 others. Well done Israel.

    • mac

      Beautifully said Ivan , very moving.
      I believe that this took place for a reason. The Israeli's are preparing for "something"
      They knew this man would suffer the worst dismembering death that you could only receive from these barbarians.
      The Israeli's thinking is , have your 1000 barbaric scum back, because,…

      Well we don't know do we , but I guarantee you it is something.
      I really think they know that the kettle is about to explode and we need the highest morale in the country and military.

  • Ivan

    AND yes, the Arabs could rejoice that they have 1000 of their sons back, and use that as a motivation to end the violence. The 1000 do not have to return to killing. It’s purely their own choice.

    • aspacia

      Ivan, most will return to attempting to or murdering Israelis and/or you if an infidel.

      • Ivan

        I know you're right. However, in the culture of sound reason, it is better to allow 1000 killers go free, than punish an innocent one. The more godless people say, "It's better to kill a 1000 innocent that to alllow one evil one to escape. Thier very premise is evil.

    • mlcblog

      I frankly do not think it will make that much difference to them. They stay in the violent mode and seem to need no reason.

      • Ivan

        Sadly, all too true!

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    Gilad is going to be Netanyahu's "Checkers" speech.

  • carckerjack

    Shalit was a soilder, not a boy scout. Civilians are "kidnapped", soilders are taken prisoner. Soilders go to war, kill and are killed. If daddy Shalit didn't want his little Gilad harmed, he should have raised him in France, and not sent him in a tank to kill other youth in the Middeast.

    Apparently, Israel wants some sort of "war-light".

    • aspacia

      Cracked, you claim holds for any soldier in any land. Most Israeli soldiers defend their people against savages. Did you read regarding what these animals did? If you did, and are not appalled, you need help. One poor lad had his eyes spooned out while he was alive.

    • stern

      carckerjack, you are showing your utter and complete ignorance of the facts here. To begin with, Shalit was on Israeli territory when he was taken. That constitutes kidnapping, not capture. But even more importantly, Israel does not want a "war-light". Israel does not a war, period! You've no doubt heard the saying, time and again: If the Arabs laid down their weapons, there would be peace. If Israel laid down her weapons, there'd be no Israel.

  • montlasky

    Having witnessed the footage on Aljazeera of Gilad's release and seeing this young man looking so thin, pale and wan was so very sad. I wept.
    This whole epsode of 1 for 1027 gives the balance of what life means to the Jewish people against the Hamas hordes who love death before life. The only way we can try to avoid a 1 for 1027 again is to re-introduce the death penalty in Israel for political crimes that these terrorists commit. Watch the ratio go from 0 Israelis to 1027 Hamas hangings in double quick time! No need then for swops! According to their wishes, we will be doing them a favour. Straight to paradise at the end of a rope!!

  • StephenD

    Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas : “You are freedom fighters and holy warriors for the sake of God and the homeland.”
    THIS si what you want Israel to “Negotiate” with? They celebrate the return of murderers of women and children and other innocent people and they are called holy warriors. If a murderer of my family was returned to me I would think I would condemn what they had done. I would not welcome them into my home. I certainly would not celebrate their return. As the “Moderate Leader” he feels no such compunction and openly rejoices in celebration with these animals. And the rest of the world wants Israel to make peace with them. Unbelievable.

    • Herman Caintonette

      It's what they have to negotiate with. Israel is a five-fingered discount, as opposed to even a mishpucha one. If we say (as all conservatives do) that private property is the sine qua non of liberty, then the land the Zionists stole is not theirs.

      Remember Hillel's one-legged exposition of the Torah? If you complain about the Nazis' theft of Jewish property, by what claim of right do hold the Arabs' property?

      • ziontruth

        The Arab settler-colonists are the land-thieves in Palestine. The Jews are the indigenous of Palestine, and therefore, by definition, cannot be stealing this land. The Arab settler land-grabbers will, for the sake of peace, evacuate every inch of Jewish Land they have stolen—every grain of sand in Palestine both pre- and post-1967, evacuated of every single Arab settler man, woman and child. No justice, no peace!

  • BLJ

    There was a damn good reason those 1027 animals were in prison. They are like a serial killer or rapist. No chance of rehabilitation.

    Hopefully the next time they decide to attack Israeli's they will get a lead surprise. I feel good for Gilad and his family, but this was another foolish move against the enemy.

  • RussellB

    Has anyone given thought to what the release of over a thousand hardened criminals is going to do to Arab society? If you thought they had problems now . . .

  • Brujo Blanco

    We need to pay heed. When the Islamics remove the Saturday people from the face of the earth then they will come for the Sunday people. It is not only about the Jews. It is about all of us.

    • Herman Caintonette

      Paranoia on steroids. The Jews stole their land, and they kind-of want it back. What do you say to the person (I've met two personally) who still has the deed to the family land, which is now in "Israel," issued by the Crown, after being chased from it bat the business end of Zionist panzers?

      Jews demanded reparations from Germany for the Nazis' conduct and got it, even though many Germans were driven mostly by fear. Explain to me, following Hillel's famous exposition of the Torah, why they should not be entitled to a similar form of reparations?

      • ziontruth

        "The Jews stole their land,…"

        We Jews took back OUR land.

        "Explain to me, following Hillel's famous exposition of the Torah,…"

        Explain to me the passages in the Torah that command the mass expulsion from the Land of Israel of any nation that is hostile to Jewish sovereignty (Numbers 33:50–53):

        51 'Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 52 then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places. 53 And ye shall drive out the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein; for unto you have I given the land to possess it.

  • Stan Lee

    Those 1027 released are "holy warriors" to the Palestinians. None of their heinous crimes against Israelis are looked upon as anymore than Jihad, honored by their theology.
    We won't know what happens to that 1027 over time. We don't really know what decisions were made to include them in the swop. I feel sure that the Israeli military intelligence was very discriminate in deciding what Palestinian offenders would be swopped.
    They were given a list by the Palestinians, but they got what the Israelis gave. Shalit will be nurtured and cared for, I doubt that returning Palestinians will receive similar treatment from their side. They're all under suspicion, and they'll stay that way until they suffer the fate of informers to Israel, whether true or not. Some will regain their statuses on the Palestinian side, until the IDF catches up with them when they attempt to continue terror operations.
    At that point, they will have met their end.

  • Herman Caintonette

    Hornik: "[T]hey saw the profound scenes of deliverance of an innocent individual who paid in suffering only because he was prepared to defend his country.

    You have to be delusional to see it like this. In war, there are no innocent soldiers. Gilad was a combatant, and a fair target for his opponents.

  • http://jewishdefense.org AJ Weberman

    1. Shalit was half starved to death.
    2. The seasoned terrorist theory is nonsense. It is not a small group of Arabs in Gaza who are terrorists it is every one just waited for their turn for martyrdom
    3. When you have a million cockaroaches and you add 477 to the bunch it aint gonna matter.
    4. It costs Israel a fortune to house these prisoners.
    5. The security wall will prevent infiltration to a high degree.
    6. If Israel let him die the army would be demoralized.
    7. Israel needs cohesion and loyalty when push comes to shove and it is attacked by Iran, Egypt.
    8. One Jewish life is worth more than 1,000 Koranbotts.

  • LindaRivera

    Britain's Cameron: "I hope this prisoner exchange will bring peace a step closer,"
    UN Secretary General: "Ban Ki-moon sees peace process boost from prisoner swap deal."

    For Cameron and Ban Ki-moon, "peace" is achieved by increasing violent jihad against Jews in the releasing of over a thousand inhuman Muslim monster killers with blood on their hands.
    It is the violent, murderous "peace" the immoral Quartet seek for Israel.

    In the past, hundreds of Jews have been barbarically murdered by Muslim terrorists that Israel released from jail. It is unbearable to contemplate the suffering of future victims. G-D help them.

  • LindaRivera

    The photo of every single one of the released Barbaric Muslim Terrorists who were released should be shown throughout the world. Their photos should be posted at all airports, railway stations, bus stations, movie theaters, supermarkets, post offices, parks, etc. People have THE RIGHT TO KNOW who these monsters are so that they can be on their guard against these violent, hate-filled terrorist killers.

    INNOCENTS MUST HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED

    • zsqpwxxeh

      If Israel had put a priority on protecting innocents, 1000 convicted terrorists would not have been released in the first place. The government of Israel has placed a higher value on the life of one captured soldier than on the lives of hundreds if not thousands of its own innocent citizens.

  • LindaRivera

    In Judea and Samaria, Muslims are chanting: "The people want a new Shalit"

    There is a radical difference between Muslim and non-Muslim culture and beliefs. Non-Muslims believe all murders are evil and when murderers are released, people are angry and disgusted.

    But in the Palestinian Authority, savage murderers of infidel Jews are regarded as huge HEROES by PA Muslims. Sports teams, streets, schools, city squares are dedicated to, and named after barbaric killers of Jewish innocents. Muslims are filled with joy over the release of cruel killers-they are celebrating and setting off fireworks.

    Non-Muslims regard murder as EVIL and the wicked breaking of G-D's Law. It is revolting and inhuman that these Muslims regard murder as EXTREMELY GOOD. The "peace" they are planning is a Second Holocaust of Jews.

  • LindaRivera

    To Brujo Blanco and Herman Caintonette:

    There NEVER was an Arab country of Palestine. Jerusalem was NEVER the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Jerusalem is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible, not once in the Koran.

    There is in infamous saying in the Middle East and it is also scrawled by Muslims in graffitti:
    First the Saturday people (Jews) and second the Sunday people (Christians). ALL non Muslims are targeted.

    • Herman Caintonette

      We in the West promised self-rule to the indigenous people in the region; the creation of a Jewish homeland was SUPPOSED to be contingent upon the consent of those people (which was never given). And as for Israel, those Jews of the Diaspora who have been absent for two millenia, and have blond hair and blue eyes (FWIW, I'm more Jewish than many Jews, but my ancestry is traced to the Ashkenazi through male parentage), it is hard to make the case that they have a legitimate claim to that land, any more than I have a right to return to the steppes.

      We're facing the same mounting crisis, as untrammeled Hispanic immigration is the first step in the creation of Aztlan.

      • ziontruth

        "We in the West promised self-rule to the indigenous people in the region;…"

        And reneged on that very promise. The indigenous Palestinians are the Jews, and only the Jews.

        "…those Jews of the Diaspora who have been absent for two millenia, and have blond hair and blue eyes…"

        Jewishness is not defined by race, you neo-Nazi, anti-Zionist piece of canine excrement!

        "…it is hard to make the case…"

        It is easy. Anyone born to a Jewish mother or having converted to Judaism according to the requirements of Jewish Law is a Jew and therefore an indigenous Palestinian.

        On the other hand, it is impossible to make the case that a group of Arabs, descendants of nomads from the Arabian Peninsula, and having nothing to mark them off from other Arabs in the region such as those in Iraq, have a legitimate claim to Palestine. They will be expelled, all of them!

  • LindaRivera

    Israel was created by G-D, not man! Israel has existed for 4,000 years and is Jewish. This fact is in the Bible and also in history books! Jews are the indigenous people of Israel.

    • ziontruth

      Kudos! Well said!

    • Sallie G. Schaffer

      Please stop printing flipside's hatefilled e-mails. Don't you kinow it makes him happy to see himself in print. Please stop.

  • zsqpwxxeh

    Reading some of the sanctimonious folly in these comments, I don't know whether to laugh or cry. "Israel values life." "My son is worth 10,000 Palestinian terrorists." "It shows that we are better than they are." "The Israeli army would be demoralized if they didn't do it." I wish some of you people would crack open a history book and discover what happens when you pay ransoms (reasonable or exorbitant) to pirates, killers, and terrorists. Here's a preview: Once you have paid the Danegeld, you never get rid of the Dane.

  • Herman Caintonette

    ziontruth: "The indigenous Palestinians are the Jews, and only the Jews."

    How so? Didn't the Jews originally come from the region surrounding Mt. Ararat, and abandon Palestine for Egypt? Didn't the Jews acquire the region through genocide? Jos. 6. The "sons of Ishmael," by stark contrast, never left. By that metric, the rightful owners of "Israel" are Arabs. Using Scripture to substantiate your claim backfires.

    Zit: "Jewishness is not defined by race, you neo-Nazi, anti-Zionist piece of canine excrement!" Also: "Anyone born to a Jewish mother … is a Jew…"

    Can't you feel the love tonight? It seems that rational argument is beyond zit's skill set.

    By that metric, Jewishness is defined by race, albeit mitochondrially. Theoretically, a person who has 1/1,000,000th a percent of Jewish blood can be a Jew. Again, I see no rational argument for a connection between that person and the land … although one man's insanity is another's theology.

    Linda: "Israel was created by G-D, not man!"

    Prove it objectively, to those of us who don't believe in ancient tribal sky-pixies. Unless you can establish that claim as fact, there is no credible argument for an ancestral claim on the land which trumps deeds granted by the Crown.

    • ziontruth

      "Didn't the Jews originally come from the region surrounding Mt. Ararat, and abandon Palestine for Egypt?"

      Doesn't matter. The Jews have an inherent connection to the Land of Israel that is not present in any other nation. Arabs are happenstance Palestinians just as they are happenstance Iraqis or Moroccans; Jews are natural Palestinians no matter where they reside, and no matter where they were born.

      "By that metric, Jewishness is defined by race, albeit mitochondrially."

      Nice of you to omit the very part that smashes your claim to smithereens: The part about Jewishness being also acquirable through religious conversion, which makes it a genetically open ethnicity.

      "Prove it objectively, to those of us who don't believe in ancient tribal sky-pixies."

      Prove it is not, or be prepared to justify yourself before that Judgment Seat that awaits everyone!

  • Herman Caintonette

    ziontruth (something funky happening with the website): "On the other hand, it is impossible to make the case that a group of Arabs, descendants of nomads from the Arabian Peninsula, and having nothing to mark them off from other Arabs in the region such as those in Iraq, have a legitimate claim to Palestine.

    If the racial component is controlling, how DO you distinguish between one group of sons of Abram and another? Any claim based on ancestry which excludes the Arab is irrational. Indeed, they have the better claim, because they never really left.

    Apart from declarations of faith which have no more foundation than the prattlings of ElRon Hubbard (after all, he IS God, according to St. John of Revolting), what do you have?