Poor Benjamin Netanyahu. The prime minister was so busy on the seder night with the story of the exodus from Egypt - you know, "from slavery to freedom," and he had to eat all that gefilte fish, and soup, and meat and vegetables - that he didn't manage to get outside and exchange even a word or two with the dejected couple who sat all those hours on the dusty sidewalk next to his castle.
The only ones who did make it out to them were some nervous and solemn-faced security guards, extremely concerned about the tremendous security risk posed by those two naive citizens who refuse to return home - where they could drown their sorrows and not disturb the peace of the king and queen.
That image of Aviva and Noam Shalit sitting on the pavement with their feet in the road, outside the cold and isolated prime minister's residence, was heartrending. It symbolized everything: Inside they were celebrating and outside they were mourning. Inside they were busy plotting PR spins and appointing mediators who have no authority, and outside they were busy confronting the cruel fate of their son, the soldier, whom the Israel Defense Forces and the government have abandoned.
I am sorry, Aviva and Noam Shalit, it is true that you have touched our hearts, but that is simply not enough. You are too reserved. Too refined. Too naive. You believe the prime minister is "doing everything" possible to free your son Gilad from that hell, but the cruel truth is that he's doing everything possible to achieve quiet.
He wants you to be quiet, he wants a quiet in the strikes, quiet from the coalition, and quiet in the diplomatic arena. That is the sort of quiet that will enable him to continue to rule; and an exchange deal with Hamas is exactly the opposite of quiet. It's one massive headache. It opens the door to accusations and risks. And that is what he absolutely hates.
The two sides had already reached a logical agreement during former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's term, according to which Hamas was supposed to get several hundred regular prisoners and another 450 "heavy" prisoners. But at the last minute, Olmert pulled out of the deal due to some marginal clauses. He, too, wanted quiet.
After he resigned and Netanyahu rose to power, the new prime minister began discussing one of his favorite topics - terror and its dangers. To his way of thinking, freeing terrorists means more attacks. Three former heads of the Shin Bet security service actually declared that "Israel is strong enough, both from an intelligence perspective and a military perspective, to deal with murderers who decide to return to their bad habits" - but what do they know?
Netanyahu is not prepared to sign a prisoner swap deal because he is unable to make any kind of decision on any issue. He is a master of putting decisions off. But it must be understood that if an exchange deal is not put into effect very soon, Gilad Shalit will also disappear the way that Ron Arad did, and his fate will haunt us forever.
There will be assemblies and demonstrations, there will be campaigns, and his disappearance will erode our strength. Now, too, Israel is being weakened by dealing with Shalit every single day - much more so than it would be weakened by the release of hundreds of terrorists who do not pose any strategic threat.
Abandoning Shalit also deals a fatal blow to our social endurance and to the principle of mutual responsibility. Because if we are not prepared to take risks to save one of our soldiers, that means that man is wolf to man and that there is no solidarity. That is why the Shalits must change their tactics. They have to put an end to the quiet Netanyahu is enjoying. They have to make so much noise that he'll feel it is endangering his position even more than freeing terrorists would.
The Shalit family can no longer go on being nice, decent and reliable. They have to wage a personal war against the prime minister. They must no longer meet with him, since every meeting (all of which are always photographed ) just becomes part of a well-oiled public relations machine. They must also deny hypocritical ministers, who know how to express sympathy with grief-stricken faces and nothing more, entry to their protest tent.
Aviva and Noam Shalit have to speak up and share what is in their hearts, without worrying about being politically correct. They have to be much more militant. They must organize mass protests and bring the country to a standstill. They must not give Netanyahu one moment of quiet. It is only when the quiet disappears that he will be forced to carry out the swap that has been shelved for years now.
Only then will Netanyahu be able to explain to his children the true meaning of the story of the Haggadah: leaving slavery for freedom.
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