Friday, June 30, 2006


Tie A Blue Ribbon

This opinion piece appeared in Ha'aretz on Wednesday, before we knew that Eliyahu Asheri was already dead.

That it appeared in Ha'aretz -- Israel's most prominent progressive newspaper, the one that consistently advocates reconciliation with Palestinians at almost any cost -- is all the more remarkable.
(hat tip: Ilana.)

Tie a blue ribbon for Gilad and Eliyahu
By Bradley Burston

There's an inexplicable calm regarding Gilad Shalit.

Must be the way the world works.

When the missile hit his tank, Gilad Shalit was guarding our pre-1967 war border.

The border that Hamas has been talking about for months. The one to which, should we withdraw, they would make peace with us for generations.

Or until Sunday morning, whichever came first.

When the missile hit his tank, two of his crewmates, Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker, were killed in the blast. A third was seriously injured.

And there was Gilad, this kid, bleeding, alone, dragged off into the Gaza Strip by men who would probably rather kill him than look at him.

There's this heartbreaking photograph of a kid not 20 years old. The wide, unspoiled smile, doubtless unchanged from when he was small.

There is this lovely family, their guard let down because they believed him to be serving in the north, far from danger. A father who, in the depth of his dread, can say to the kidnappers, "We believe that those who are holding him also have families and children, and that they know what we are feeling."

The world can't give a fallen fig.

When the missile hit, there was this kid, stationed at a quiet IDF position, not in the territories, nowhere near Palestinians.

And here is this kidnapping of a soldier in an army which has withdrawn from the internationally recognized whole of the once-occupied Gaza Strip.

The world cares not at all.

Perhaps we should care more. Perhaps it's time people made a small statement in as many places as possible.

Now there is another kid being held, by the celebrants of horrible death, under threat of horrible death: Eliyahu Asheri, even younger than Gilad.

Tie a blue ribbon on a tree for Gilad, and for Eliyahu. So that people will ask what it's for, and you can tell them.

So that they won't be left alone, nor their family.

Ignore the voices - you can hear them already - saying that Gilad had it coming, as a member of a military that attacks Palestinians - the Palestinians that fire Qassams into homes, schools and medical clinics, the Palestinians that fire Qassams every single day, sometimes as many as seven times a day.

Ignore the voices - you know what they're going to spit at you, saying that Eliyahu had it coming, just because his parents decided to raise him on the wrong side of the Green Line.

The world doesn't give a fallen fig.

The world has washed its hands of the Palestinians. The world has washed its hands of Hamas. The world is tired of our troubles as well.

There's a sense that this is a kidnapping that even Hamas would rather not think about.

The answer may well lie somewhere between the Twin Towers and Faluja. Mass murder in the name of God, beheadings in the name of God, bombing after bombing after bombing after bombing in the name of God, gets to us after a while. Our ability to care, our very ability to notice, has been compromised by a reign of terror of such enormity, of such horror, of such duration, that the threshold of our emotional attention has become all but unreachable.

But just this once ...

We should tie a blue ribbon for Gilad, and for Eliyahu. For the sake of their families. For our own sake. For the sake of the world.

So that people will ask what it's for. And so they'll find out.


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