Published in Israel Hayom, March 16, 2012
In an interview with Channel 10 this week, Noam Schalit (the father of kidnapped and freed soldier Gilad Schalit) said that “if he were Palestinian he would try to kidnap IDF soldiers.” “We also kidnapped British soldiers when we were fighting for our freedom,” Schalit said. And for good measure, he added that he was in favor of negotiating with Hamas. “I am in favor of speaking to anyone who wants to talk to us.”
It’s time to take the gloves off and tell Noam Schalit to clam up.
For a very long time, the Israeli public has treated the elder Schalit with sympathy and forgiveness, even when he went around the country blaming the Israeli government (not the Hamas) for his son’s lengthy captivity, even when he called the prime minister nasty names, even when he accused Israeli leaders of practically murdering his son, even when he disrupted formal Independence Day ceremonies with protests, even when he turned this country’s defense and security policy regarding terrorists and captives on its head with a slick campaign that wasn’t necessarily in our best national interests.
But we all forgave Noam Schalit because he was, well, fighting for his son, and who could judge him in such a situation? Nobody wanted to be in his shoes, so we cut him a tremendous amount of slack. The emotional pressure he placed on us all was overwhelming, and the Israeli public buckled. Our compassion got the better of us — for the sake of Gilad, for Noam, and for the whole Schalit family.
With Gilad back in Mitzpe Hila after a super-controversial and gut-wrenching mega-deal with the Hamas in which more than 1,000 terrorists were exchanged for Private Schalit, Noam Schalit should have known well-enough to retreat to the privacy of his home and concentrate on rehabilitating his son and raising his other children. His manipulations over our emotions and national policies should have come to an end. He should have realized that his credit with the public had been used up. The only public expressions to which he still has a right are expressions of gratitude.
Just a reminder: When last Friday the IDF targeted Zohair al-Qaisi, secretary general of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, we also killed his driver, who happened to be one of the Hamas prisoners released in the exchange for Gilad Schalit and who had signed a written pledge not to return to terrorist activity. (No doubt that the two militants were discussing how to make peace with the Schalits and other nice Israelis as they drove to their afternoon tea).
This sad reality ought to keep Noam Schalit really quiet.
But no. Gratitude and circumspection don’t seem to be Noam Schalit’s thing. He has unwisely decided to run for Knesset on an opposition party slate – a slap in the face to Prime Minister Netanyahu who made the difficult decision to swap terrorists for his son. Then he took to demeaning Netanyahu, dismissing the Prime Minister’s decision to free Gilad as being motivated only by the polls. “I think the prime minister sees lots of polls,” Schalit told Channel 10. “Every poll found that 70 percent of the public wanted the deal and it even got to 80 percent. Netanyahu saw the public would not tolerate a repeat of what happened to [missing airman] Ron Arad.”
Now Noam Schalit outrageously tells us that if he were Palestinian he too would try to kidnap IDF soldiers. In saying this, he is justifying Hamas abductions of soldiers, encouraging Hamas to grab and torture other Israeli boys and their families, and besmirching the memory of Menachem Begin (by comparing Etzel actions to those of the Hamas).
But Schalit’s chutzpa runs even deeper. After all, he is partially responsible for the ugly calculus whereby it’s worthwhile for Palestinians to abduct Israeli soldiers! The Arabs know there will be people like Noam Schalit who will agitate for wildly disproportionate and dangerous prisoner swaps.
The natural reaction to such obtuse and ungrateful statements is to shrug it off as the nonsensical ramblings of a tortured man who has been through hell. He’s not completely rational, poor Noam Schalit. We’ll overlook his insulting imprudence.
But on the chance that Noam Schalit might take our collective silence as more than mere forbearance, I think it time to tell Noam directly: Enough! Our patience has run out on your insensitive and tendentious statements. Go back home, and stop embarrassing your son and yourself, and insulting the rest of us.
The Talmud instructs us not to judge a man’s actions when he is suffering. Thus it was appropriate to swallow Noam Schalit’s exploitative behavior while his son was held in captivity. Now that Gilad is freed and the suffering is over, we need not endure the elder Mr. Schalit’s insults any longer.