We are fast approaching the fourth anniversary of the capture of Gilad Shalit, who is being held by the terrorist group Hamas somewhere in the Gaza Strip. The young Israel Defense Force corporal was taken on June 25, 2006, in a cross-border raid when he was a mere 19 years old.
The fact that this day comes in the wake — quite literally — of the Turkish flotilla incident should have resonance for Jews. The boats heading for Gaza were said to be bringing merely humanitarian aid to a beleaguered people — foodstuffs and medicines needed by those who have suffered long and hard ever since Israel imposed a blockade once Hamas seized power there.
The media has had a particular field day castigating the Israeli government not just for the possible slaughter of nine Turkish citizens aboard one of the flotilla's vessels, the Mavi Marmara. Most of the world, including most journalists, has also judged this action to be symptomatic of the Jewish state's bloodthirsty nature, the singular attribute that allows it to persist in its heartless blockade.
But no matter where you stand on any of these issues, either politically or philosophically, you might, if you assessed them with a measure of objectivity — to say nothing of a jaundiced eye — find that a good deal of hypocrisy has filled the air these past few media-saturated weeks.
The outcry against the blockade in the aftermath of Israel's boarding the Mavi Marmara has been met with universal approbation. The Israelis are seen as brutal and unfeeling, while the Gazans have been portrayed as innocent pawns in the master plan of the Jewish state, which supposedly will crush any opposition that dares get in its way.
Now is not the time to list all the aid Israel has sent to Gaza and elsewhere in the region. Rather, we should note that Gilad Shalit is now — and has been — silently crying out for a bit of attention. Since 2006, the amount of media exposure — to say nothing of humanitarian assistance — accorded him wouldn't fill a tablespoon in comparison to what's been expended on Gaza since the flotilla raid.
Doesn't this young man, whose parents have grieved for four long years, deserve even a fraction of the world's consideration, to say nothing of its empathy?
Shalit's release has interested a handful of non-Jews, but as usual in such cases, the cause has generally been the province of the Israelis and the Diaspora community, which have done the yeoman's share of campaigning on his behalf. The Conservative movement here in the United States just initiated its own drive to focus the spotlight on the missing soldier, and perhaps free him from his captors.
So let us hope on this telling anniversary that all those in need — but especially, Gilad Shalit — are freed from their bonds soon, and can rejoice in bountiful measure among family and friends.