In Wake of Shalit Deal, Israel Must Return to Sanity

This is an important morning for the Shalit familt and for the State of Israel. A first morning after the insanity. A first morning after the hysteria. A first morning after the loss of judgment and the loss of our senses.

Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit
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Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit

For Gilad Shalit, this morning is a first morning. It is a first morning of freedom, a first morning of sanity, a first morning of love and of warmth. A first morning after the captivity, a first morning after the isolation, a first morning after the nightmare. After 1,941 days and 1,941 nights in a dark pit, Gilad awakes this morning into a great light. Mother, father, brother, sister. Mitzpeh Hila, the Upper Galilee, Israel. There are finally vast blue skies of freedom above his head.

But this is an important morning for the State of Israel, too. A first morning after the insanity. A first morning after the hysteria. A first morning after the loss of judgment and the loss of our senses. After 1,941 days and 1,941 nights dominated by kitsch, this morning we are waking up to reality. Opening our eyes and rubbing them to see who we are and what has happened to us.

This morning, when Gilad Shalit wakes up in his bed, we can already tell the truth: We went crazy. During the past 64 months, we simply went crazy. Because of the profound and justified guilt that we all felt for one boy and one family, we stopped acting in a reasonable manner. Because of the twisted awareness that we suffered in the era of Channel 2, we worked ourselves up into an emotional frenzy. We reached the point where we are willing to sacrifice hundreds whose names and faces we are not familiar with, in exchange for the one whose name and face have become a part of our lives. We reached the point where we conduct our national affairs like children - without wisdom, without morality and without mature responsibility.

We should recall: Yoni Netanyahu also had a family. A mother, a father, two brothers. Yoni Netanyahu also had a home, and there was love and there was a full life. But the State of Israel decided to risk his life in order to save the lives of its citizens and in order not to surrender to terror. The State of Israel sacrificed him for the general good of the Jewish people.

In that, Yoni was not exceptional. In the past 75 years we sent thousands to their deaths and hundreds into captivity in order to protect life. We did not focus cameras on every bereaved father and every bereaved mother. We did not weep at the sight of every young man who packed his knapsack and set off for war. We did not emotionally collapse in the face of the young lives that were lost. We understood and remembered the cruel imperative of our lives here. That's how we won in 1948, in 1956, in 1967, that's how we survived in 1973 and after 1973. The Yoni ethos was our daily lot before and after Yoni. He built the iron security wall, and only thanks to that are we able to live an almost normal life here.

The great danger in what has happened here in recent years is the replacement of the Yoni ethos with the Gilad ethos. The Shalit family is not to blame for that. The boy Gilad is certainly not to blame for that. But there was an unprecedented hysteria surrounding the noble family and their son. Restrained judgment was replaced by emotional abandon. The universal discussion was replaced by an individual one. Standards were lost and criteria were lost and rules were broken. In the end, the practical justification for the Shalit deal was a reverse justification. We had to end the craziness. We had to stop the national hysteria. We had to interrupt the interminable reality show of Channel 2: kitsch and captivity. But now, the morning after, we have a duty to make it clear that there will not be another such reality show here. There won't be another Shalit deal and there won't be another Shalit-frenzy. From now on, Israel will behave like Australia, Great Britain and the United States. From now on, Israel will once again be what it used to be.

The Shalit decision is the most difficult leadership decision Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made to date. Now he faces an even more difficult decision: Netanyahu must pass the recommendations of the Shamgar Committee in the cabinet, in the Knesset and among the public. Netanyahu must place our mutual responsibility on a wise, moral and inclusive foundation. Netanyahu must bring us back from the Gilad ethos to the Yoni ethos. In order for us to withstand the heavy losses of the coming wars, we must return to sanity. Already now, already today. This morning is the first morning.



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