Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tell the world he's coming home

Many years ago, on July 4 1976 an elite commando unit of the Israeli Defense Forces stormed the Entebbe, Uganda airport and freed the 102 Israeli hostages held there after they were hijacked on an Air France Flight by terrorist palestinian organizations. It was a bold and daring raid by the Israelis, indeed a national victory that the entire country celebrated.

But of course, as always, the joy felt was tempered somewhat by tragedy: some of the hostages were killed in the crossfire of the raid; one hostage, Dora Bloch, was brutally murdered by the Ugandans in the aftermath; and Yonatan Netanyahu, a commander of the raid was killed in the firefight between the commandos and the terrorists.

After the raid, Yehoram Gaon came out with a song that became very popular at the time and now is considered an Israeli classic (Lyrics by Telma Eligon Rose, music by Dovi Seltzer). There is a line in the song that to me describes perfectly life in this little country of mine. Living here in Israel, it is a line I think of often. On this historical day, I especially feel it. The line goes like this:

"עצבונה וששונה הם שתי וערב בבגד יומה"

"[a country whose]...sadness and happiness
are interwoven into the fabric of her daily life".

I don't think I need to review for you all that is happening here today. That our soldier, Gilad Shalit, "everybody's child", is coming home. That the Israeli government decided to pay a very heavy price for his release. That out of the 1027 prisoners that are being released in exchange for one Gilad, about 400 of them are true murderers and masterminds of horrific terrorist attacks. That since the deal has been announced families of the victims of these murderers have appealed to the supreme court to take the murderers off the list. That the supreme court said, no. That there are people who say the price is to heavy for one soldier. That the deal emboldens the terrorists. And that there are others who say we are a country who can't leave our soldiers behind. That we are a country with values and that human life is valuable. That we are the only country in this neighborhood of the world that values life, whereas our neighbors value death. That our soldiers serving and being drafted today need to know that we will do anything to get them back should, G-d forbid, another soldier be kidnapped.

I read it all. The papers, the blogs, the opinions. And I go back and forth. When I see the families of victims of terror in so much pain today, my heart goes out to them. One of the masterminds being released today was responsible for the Sbarro terror attack in August, 2001, in which Liat's teacher, Morah Shoshana Greenbaum was slaughtered. She was an only child, pregnant with her first child and this deal likely pours salt on a wound that has never, that will never close for her parents.

But yet, Gilad. How can we leave him there any longer? He needs to come home, to be held by his parents and embraced by his people.

Today is one of those quintessential Israeli days: exhilaration and heartbreak, tears of both joy and sadness intermingling for all that Gilad has been through, all that our nation and our country has been through.

Gilad, you have been "everybody's child" for five long years. We have cherished and missed you without even really knowing you. Now that you are coming back, we will give you back to your parents, Noam and Aviva. You belong to them.

I for one, give you back wholeheartedly and with love.


(Here are the words to the song Eretz Tzvi, along with an accompanying video I found on You Tube. All the words are appropriate today).

בחצי הלילה הם קמו
והיכו בקצה העולם
כבני רשף חשו הרחיקו עוף
להשיב את כבוד האדם

אל ארץ צבי
אל דבש שדותיה
אל הכרמל והמדבר
אל עם אשר לא יחשה
שאת בניו לא יפקיר לזר,
אל ארץ צבי שבהריה
פועמת עיר מדור לדור
אל ארץ אם לטבורה
קשורים בניה בטוב וברע.

בחצי הלילה עוברת
בשדותינו רוח שרב
ערבה אילמת תרכין אז ראש
על אשר עם שחר לא שב

אל ארץ צבי
אל דבש שדותיה
אל הכרמל והמדבר
אל עם אשר לא יחשה
שאת בניו לא יפקיר לזר,
אל ארץ צבי שדמעותיה
נושרות על שדה חמניות
שעצבונה וששונה
הם שתי וערב בבגד יומה.
At midnight they arose
and struck at the edge of the world
like sons of ghosts they hurried to take flight
to return the honor of humanity

To the land of the deer (Israel)
to the honey of her fields
to the Carmel and the desert
to a nation who will not be silent/still
who will not abandon its sons to a foreigner
to the land of deer, in whose mountains
a city beats from generation to generation
to the motherland to whose navel
her children are bound in good and in bad

At midnight passes
in its/our fields a blistering wind
a willow then bows her head for those who
with the dawn did not come back

To the land of the deer (Israel)
to the honey of her fields
to the Carmel and the desert
to a nation who will not be silent/still
who will not abandon its sons to a foreigner
to the land of deer, whose tears
fall on a field of sunflowers
whose sadness and happiness
are interwoven in the fabric of her daily life.


Anonymous said...

I, for one, as an IDF parent, abhor this "deal." What happens when the trash we are releasing starts killing again, God forbid? What do we say then? That Gilad's life is more important than others? And what happens when someone else is kidnapped, God forbid? The price will go up to 1500 terrorists, or 2000 terrorists. I rue the day that the Israeli government broke its own rule never to negotiate with terrorists.

Robin said...

Beautifully said Baila, truly a day filled with the highest highs and the lowest lows.

At the end of the day though, we don't leave any soldier behind. Ever. It's at the very fiber of our being. Who would we be as a nation if we gave that up? If we didn't do everything possible to bring our children, those who we put in uniform and told to fight, home again. We'd be one large step closer to those we fight against.

I can only hope against hope that somehow this temporary cooperation will in the end lead to good, to good that will continue to outweigh the risks of the heavy price we paid.

Mrs. S. said...

Thanks for this lovely and poignant post!

Pitka tava and chag samei'ach to you and your family!

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