Re: Bringing my brother, Gilad Shalit, home

Dear Editor, On Oct. 18, 2011 Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home, after being held prisoner in Gaza by the terrorist organization Hamas, for five and a half years. Since 2006, Israelis and Jews around

Dear Editor,

On Oct. 18, 2011 Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home, after being held prisoner in Gaza by the terrorist organization Hamas, for five and a half years. Since 2006, Israelis and Jews around the globe campaigned for his release. The number of prisoners Hamas wanted in exchange was far more than I thought was logical and fair. Then someone asked me, “What if he were your  son, or your brother? Would you make the deal then?” From that day on, my decision was made, and Gilad Shalit became my brother.

This summer, I visited the tent his parents set up in Jerusalem, protesting their son’s imprisonment. It was such a moving and emotional sight. Noam, Gilad’s father, was sitting in the tent. I stood there trying to find the appropriate words to say, but none came to me. After all, how many times can one handle the words “I’m sorry” duringr the course of five years? Yellow ribbons and stickers saying “Gilad is still alive!” could be seen all over the country showing the nation’s solidarity. It was beautiful to see a people unite, and fight for someone most had never even met. Unfortunately, we live in a reality that any one of us could have been in Gilad’s place.

During the years, Gilad became more than a brother, or a son, he became a symbol for a country that has long sought peace. Finally, it was decided  by an overwhelming majority that Gilad would be returned in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails. To make the situation more complex, these were not your every day offenders. They were people who were to serve multiple life terms for murdering multiple Israeli civilians. It doesn’t sound right, exchanging 1,027 prisoners for one innocent man, does it? Nonetheless, the deal was executed.

So what can we learn from something like this in a time where peace is needed now more than ever? First, it shows just how much Israel values human life. Next, for such a small country who is constantly living under threats, it shows just how far Israel is willing to go to achieve a true and lasting peace with the Palestinians. In an interview on Egyptian television after his release, Gilad said, “I hope this deal helps achieve peace between both sides, Israel and the Palestinians.”

I have made it my obligation to work toward peace between the two peoples. Like Gilad, I hope that this will open the door for effective peace talks, and not the door to more terror. Seeing Gilad step out of the car and into the sunlight for the first time in over five years filled me with a hope I longed for for so long. I could not help but cry knowing he was alive. After a long period of uncertainty, I felt a happiness that is simply unable to be put into words. This day was nothing short of a miracle, and I am so thankful that I can say, my brother, you are finally free, welcome home!


Emilly Green

Vice President of Israel Programming

Hillel at Temple University


  1. I share your happiness to see that Sgt Shalit is not only alive, but seemingly well .. at least considering company of the demonic vermin who both kidnapped and then held him captive for these past five plus years. It still pains me to see the photos of stark differences between his pale, thin, and clearly weakened condition, compared to the jolly, almost obese Palestinian prisoner counterparts who were released in the bargain to have him returned. How the so-called “International Community” can rationalize the viability of this Hamas terrorist group after such an episode is beyond belief to me. But who am I to judge … Hamas and all their kind will answer to a higher authority than any of us, probably much sooner than we would even believe.

  2. hi Emilly,
    I share with you these feelings of joy and happiness for seeing Gilad Shalit coming back home. as a former israeli soldier I know that almost every soldier in israel would admire this action which gives the soldiers confident in israel, a country that would do anything to bring its sons back, and yes, valuing one’s life in such a way is really incredible and shows the real nature of Israel to the whole world, as opposed to how we are seen usually in the media in the world.
    لكن انا اعتقد كمان انه هدا الخطوة يبعد السلام لكي للاسف الشديد الطرف التاني في هدا الصفقة شايف هده صفقة التبادل كانتصار وتحقيق اهدفهم وفي دلك يصريحون على استمرار الاختطافات
    اتمنى لنا السلام يا حبيبتي وخصوصا لك التوفيق والنجاح
    ואסיים בשפתנו היקרה – העברית
    לצד השמחה הגדולה על חזרתו על גלעד שליט הביתה עלינו לחבק את המשפחות השכולות ולחזק אותם שכן ימים אלו יהיו ימים נוראיים עבורם. כאב השכול הוא אין סופי והסולידריות שלנו כעם נמדדת גם פה ולא רק ביום הזיכרון אלא בכל יום ביומו.

    מיכאל סער

  3. מיכאל,
    שמחתי לקרוא מה שכתבת. אני באמת מסכימה איתך. מאה אחוז. אחרי הרבה ימים כשקראתי את החדשות גיליתי שהמצב בארץ עכשיו הוא קשה מאוד. זה חשוב מאוד לחבק את המשפחות השכולות. גם הם צריכים לדעת שהמדינה אכפת להם, ולא רק על המצב של גלעד והמשפחה שלו. אני עצבנית וקצת מפחדת על מה יקרה בעתיד הקרוב. אני חושבת שדברים יהיו יותר קשים מעכשיו אבל עדיין יש לי תקווה. 

  4. תמיד צריך שתהיה תקווה כי בלי תקווה מה הטעם באמת? גם אני לא איבדתי עדיין את התקווה ואני שומר לעצמי קורט של אופטימיות זהירה. יחד עם זאת, אני גם יודע עד כמה הסכסוך הזה עמוק וקשה. תחשבי על זה, ברמה הכי בסיסית מדובר כאן על שני עמים שמעוניינים באותה פיסת אדמה. האחד אומר היא שלי והשני אומר ההפך, האחד אומר שהוא היה כאן קודם והשני מסרב לקבל זאת, הסכסוך הזה כל כך עמוק ויסודי שלדעתי יקחו שנים רבות עד שמשהו משמעותי באמת ישתנה במצב של היום. ואני רוצה לשתף אותך במשפט שפעם שמעתי מאיש חכם שאמר ש”לעיתים הרצון להביא את השלום כאן ועכשיו בכל מחיר רק מרחיק אותו”..אפשר ללמוד מזה הרבה, אם נסתכל סביבנו נראה שהמזרח התיכון הוא ממש כמרקחה והוא עובר שינויים דרמטיים, לדעתי הדבר החכם והנבון ביותר כעת יהיה להמתין בשקט ובצניעות ולראות מה יהיו התוצאות והמגמות של מה שמתחולל סביבנו ואז נהיה חכמים יותר לפעול.

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