Israeli Leaders Could Teach the Arabs How to Discredit Demonstrators

During the five-minute protest urging the release of Gilad Shalit, the Knesset could have decided to free the IDF soldier after 1,724 days in captivity.

The Arabs are stupid even when they are in charge. If they were smart, like our leaders, if they were endowed with a Yiddishe kop, they would not be overthrown.

When it comes right down to it, Egyptian President Honsni Mubarak and Tunisian President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali should have used a simple trick to save their skins. They should have linked up right away with those protesting against them. In so doing they would have taken the air right out of the demonstrations.

Mothers for Gilad Shalit - Tomer Appelbaum - March 15, 2011
Tomer Appelbaum

They should have taken lessons from the Israelis. To paraphrase the Psalmist, how we wiped away tears and wept when we remembered Gilad Shalit. And we, both the leaders and the led, will continue to remember and remind ourselves of him for the next five years.

Israel's leadership will not let the public demonstrate in the town squares and crossroads of Israel alone. We are speaking here of a leadership that is involved with the public in which it dwells and is attentive to the murmurings of the public's heart.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin instructed parliamentary committees to halt urgent sessions yesterday for five minutes to show solidarity with Shalit, and they willingly complied. Current and former very chief rabbis, Ovadia Yosef and Shlomo Amar, urged their flock to recite Psalms in a sign of identification. None other than the defense minister, Ehud Barak, announced that the circumstances required changes to his demanding schedule. Even President Shimon Peres halted his speech at the Negev Conference to demonstrate. Only one voice was not heard, for some reason, and that absence was felt. It was the voice of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If he had joined the chorus, the performance would have been complete.

This Israeli form of demonstration is original. There is nothing like it in the free world, or the unfree world for that matter. Protesters mount the barricades, but from both directions. In fact, in those five minutes, the Knesset could have decided to free Shalit after 1,724 days in captivity. The terms for the release have been known for a long time. All of them are on the table and they are not about to get better.

The rabbis could have instructed their obedient representatives to make Gilad their primary concern as well as the top agenda item for the next cabinet meeting. The defense minister could explain to his colleagues that even after the release of terrorists, we would still hold many thousands of Palestinian prisoners. He could also explain that there are enough murderers at large to slaughter a family in Itamar. Instead of fulfilling his duty, Ehud Barak makes due with going through the motions, as usual.

Making the call to "Free Gilad Shalit" without acknowledging the necessary price is evasive, cowardly and misleading. Now that we have put an end to the meaning of the demonstration, we can relax until the next demonstration marking six years of Gilad Shalit's captivity. And seven years.