The Shalit family - mother and father, sister and brother - are the most innocent people in Israel, maybe in the entire Middle East. These four innocents genuinely believe that decisions made in Jerusalem are generally guided by good sense and a feeling of responsibility.
When governments and prime ministers are replaced here, they cast vehement - and justified - criticism on the outgoing administration, while welcoming the incoming with goodwill, great expectations and praise. Ehud Olmert didn't pull his weight, they said, but Benjamin Netanyahu would do what was demanded of him.
Indeed, after meeting with him, they came away with good impressions. What they failed to understand, however, is that this is exactly the impression one gets from meeting Netanyahu the first time. All leave satisfied, certain that new horizons are being opened. Only in the second meeting does uncertainty begin to appear, and by the third no doubt remains: This man talks and talks, but does nothing.
After all, what did the authorities ask of the family? "Don't make waves. We'll pull that Gilad of yours - er, of ours - from the depths. Sit tight at home because we, the guardians of Israel, will not rest, we will not sleep until he is back."
Four years flew by this way and the boy still isn't here. This is how Ron Arad was lost: somewhere between a string of mollifying promises.
No one can accuse Noam and Aviva of raising the price tag with their impatience - the price is as fixed and clear as it ever was. The time that has elapsed has not made him cheaper, but more costly to return. Now, we are forced to decide: Either return him or or abandon him to his fate.
A number of justifications have been raised over the years against a dangerous, humiliating acquiescence to Hamas extortion. A prisoner exchange, however, won't be the pretext for another soldier abduction, but the thousands of Hamas' own captives serving hundreds of thousands of years in total in Israeli prisons. Nor will a swap create more terrorists (as if there were ever a shortage of volunteers ), but conditions on the ground. As long as these do not change, terror will persist.
When Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and their ilk are forced to operate under international pressure, they know well how to stoop their erect posture and crawl on their bellies. They have even agreed that for the first time in the state's history, international observers will participate in an Israeli government committee to examine the flotilla raid fiasco.
It's a shame that until now U.S. President Barack Obama and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy haven't applied pressure on Israel to fulfill its obligation to the soldier that went out to do its bidding, but due to its incompetence is unable to return him home. And it's a shame no committee has been set up - with international participation, no less - to examine once and for all how an excess of responsibility on one family's part has led to complete irresponsibility on the part of the government.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now