In his father’s billfold, in his mothers purse, on his brothers minds, on his girlfriends nightstand, in the hearts of a great number of friends and peers from school and fun times; there in a snapshot, with pain and woe one finds the profile of a lad with a boy’s face, large sad eyes and a wide smile.
So few are yet aware that when that lad was only 11 years old he wrote a book with such tenderness and ingenuity as only the pristine mind of a child can conjure. The story is about a small fish that encounters, at sea, a shark; whom he invites to play a game of hide-and-seek. They played until sundown, without incidents for the small fish and of course neither for the shark. As per the narrator, when both fish tell the story to their respective mothers, both were administered their criticism.
The sharks' mother said:
“...don't play with him anymore, the small fish are for us to feed upon”.
Accordingly, the mother of the small fish, who was horrified, recounted the horrible tales of relatives devoured by sharks, in such a way, that after that time, based on what both mothers had told them; the shark and the small fish avoided each other.
Thus a year went by, which toward the end, produced the inevitable chance encounter. The Shark said to the small fish: “You are my enemy, but we can make peace”
That story written by the child re-tells how the fish played secretly for days, weeks and months; until one day they decided to go together to tell their mothers. From that day forward, the shark and the small fish lived in peace.
Nothing stops it from being a children's story; albeit a miraculous dream if it were to become a reality in so many conflicts that humanity suffers, between enemies both definitive and habitual.
This lad, who was almost a child only four years ago, is the victim of a medieval practice of hand changing by pirates of the latter 20th century and, lamentably, the 21st ; the kidnapping.
The kidnapping is one of most degrading conditions that one human being can force upon another since the victim immediately loses their value as a person and becomes an “exchangeable commodity” for material wealth or for other legal or illegal captives.
The press informs us on a continuous basis of cases involving kidnappings of every stripe; from the jungles of Latin America to the Persian gulf, with a host of variations and backdrops that vie for the greater cruelty and foulness. A far cry from the story of the shark and the fish.
During the 2nd year of his captivity, they allowed that lad to write a letter to his parents- to tell them how much he missed them, to what degree the extent of his suffering was physical, emotional and cerebral; to plead for a negotiated liberation and fulfill that perennial dream of his in which he finds himself free and embracing them.
Only his tormentors know in actuality what has been wrought upon him, and in what state his mind and body are. The life experience of others in similar circumstances forces us to assume the worst. That lad, before being captured, was better known for his sensitivity and wisdom than for his physical appearance; however, his mentality and courage enabled him to overcome and execute physical tasks beyond his limitations. We hope that remains so.
Those who love him have not seen him since he was 19 years old in June of 2006 when he was kidnapped while guarding a post on the frontier with the Hamas terrorists. He has himself described in one of the very rare statements the torturers have permitted, how they keep him in “an inhumane and intolerable nightmare”.
Lamentably, the role of Amnesty International and the Red Cross in Gaza have been null and void as Hamas has barred them access, while neither of those organizations have exerted a maximum earnestness to do so.
The Government of Israel has taken important steps to attain his freedom, concurrently as in previous engagements, in exchange for Palestinians convicted in a democratic state, with all of the guarantees of due process and transparency entailed therein. Everything has been insufficient for them and that lad is made to live as a martyr.
His name is Gilad Shalit and it is about time for him to go back to his home. As G-d would will it.
Roland J Behar
Conmemorating his 25th birthday