The news that Gilad Shalit will be coming home came just as much as a surprise as did that of his kidnapping. I remember thinking on that grim day in June 2006 that surely by nightfall the IDF would have launched a mission to release him (just as they did with Nachshon Waksman in 1994, although it wasn't on the day he was kidnapped). Little did I know that a 5 year saga had just begun.
It will take some time to fully digest the complete extent of this leap forward, both emotionally and politically. But now is the time to set aside all arguments and opinions and focus on one beautiful aspect of our people that is being displayed for the whole world to see: We care about every single individual and we will never ever forget or let go. This characteristic is rooted so deeply in our souls that we may mistakenly take it for-granted.
Different people had different ideas about what they could and should do for Gilad. Sometimes these ideas were passionately debated and one side would adamantly oppose the other's actions. But whether it was through prayer or rally, Facebook or Youtube - we were all there. We cannot imagine things being any different.
I say this at a time when the whole world can clearly do the math and see how much in fact we care:
"JERUSALEM — Israel and Hamas, two of the Middle East’s most implacable foes, announced Tuesday that they had reached a tentative agreement brokered by Egypt to exchange more than 1,000Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for more than five years."
(Ethan Bronner, NY Times October 11, 2011)
The disproportion is not hard to detect. The only reason it can be this way is that we are the ones who fully appreciate Gilad Shalit as a human being, as a Jew and as a soldier.