Letter to Gilad Shalit’s family and supporters

To Gilad Shalit’s family and  supporters,

Your son has returned home; congratulations. I’m sure you are relieved, and deservedly so. You’ve waited five long years for this day, to be able to see your son in the flesh. Today he stands before you, and now I do too.

I want to ask you an honest question. Irrespective of the fact that Shalit is your son or your neighbor or a young man, has justice really been done? It doesn’t require a stretch of imagination to say yes. Shalit returned home, and within the coming days, so will 1027 Palestinians. But the real answer is no.

This prisoner swap has yet to challenge the status quo. Tonight, thousands of Palestinian Shalits, figuratively speaking, will sleep in Israeli jails. Tomorrow, they will wake up, still locked behind bars and basement walls. They will wonder why the world hasn’t taken them as seriously as the real Gilad Shalit, the Israeli one whose blood is apparently much more valuable than theirs. They will wait. Another day will pass; they will sleep and repeat.

I want to ask another question. Do you see anything wrong with this picture? Collectively, the freed Palestinians are painted as mass murderers concerned with nothing else but a second chance to target the Israeli state while Shalit is hailed as a champion, an innocent bystander uninvolved in the upkeep of the occupation and accidentally donning a military uniform the day he was captured.

I am sorry to have to tell you what you repeatedly refuse to hear, but your son, your friend, your neighbor, your hero, your Shalit was captured at a time when he was actively complicit in maintaining the occupation of Palestine. He was doing something illegal, according to the international laws that trump Israel’s state laws, which sponsor, encourage, and implement this illegal complicity. He was dressed in military fatigues at the time of his capture, not because he just so happened to be wearing an army costume but because at any given moment, his commander could have ordered him to toss a grenade at a group of “suspicious” Palestinians on the other side of the border and he would have been obligated to do so.

Shalit is a documented member of a standardless army and the evidence exists for that. But I am not asking for your son, your friend, your comrade to be put back in jail for the crimes you refuse to acknowledge. I see no problem having him sit at the dinner table with his family, something that thousands of Palestinian prisoners, charged with no real crime, will be unable to do tonight, but I’m terribly saddened by the double standards you promote.

When you were calling for Shalit’s release, you presented yourself as proponents of justice. So why have you turned a blind eye to the underage Palestinian children missing from their homes, the elderly widows incarcerated for shouting at the soldiers uprooting their olive trees, the fathers demanding entry to Jerusalem to catch the holy Friday prayers? Why do you insist on defending one man, a true criminal, while ignoring the thousands who have only committed the crime of being Palestinian?

Tonight, shortly after midnight, the army your son served on will covertly kidnap two or three Palestinian teens in Ramallah and hide them in unknown prisons for months before indicting them with trumped-up charges. Will you continue to turn a blind eye?

I am still standing before you, and I will not move, I will not duck from your path, I will not veer to the side until justice is served and until it is no longer a crime to be Palestinian.

There are 11 comments

  1. sick of the stupid comparisons

    Sami. Can you STOP making comparisons between innocent Palestinian civilians who are ruthlessly thrown in jails often on NO charges whatsoever, and an Israeli who serves in their terrorist forces? Christ!

    1. Sami Kishawi

      Agreed; there is no comparison between the two. I think I even made the distinction at least two or three times. The point is to show that the urgency for these Palestinian prisoners is even greater, specifically because they haven’t been charged with anything and especially because double standards are both wrong and undignified.

      In case you’re too hurried to bother reading the entire article, here’s what I said about Shalit and his role as an individual serving with the Israeli army:
      “He was doing something illegal, according to the international laws that trump Israel’s state laws, which sponsor, encourage, and implement this illegal complicity” and “Shalit is a documented member of a standardless army and the evidence exists for that”.

      As for Palestinians, it’s pretty obvious what my stance is. The last sentence makes it perfectly clear. But I amended a paragraph to make it easier to understand for people who rush to emotional or blind conclusions. Check it out.

      1. Sami Kishawi

        The phrase, as problematic as it seems, depends on the context in which it is presented. In this case, a letter directed to Shalit’s parents, the phrase defines Shalit as someone imprisoned and kept from his family and home. I am using the same definition employed by Shalit’s family and supporters to expose the double standards that surround this issue, and this is a calculated tactic. It is obvious that Palestinian civilians thrown in jail for being the wrong shade of skin in the wrong place at the wrong time are not comparable to a soldier stationed along the border; that’s the point of the article.

    1. Sami Kishawi

      I would argue that he was captured. He was stationed as an active member of a military force. He wasn’t a civilian by any means. His crime wasn’t being an Israeli Jew; his crime was being part of the maintenance and upkeep of an occupation recognized as illegal under international law.

      1. Rico Altman Merino

        I say kidnapped instead of captured to indicate that Hamas had no legitimate reason for holding him. He was neither guilty of nor charged for war crimes. He was a HOSTAGE. Gilad Shalit is no more personally responsible for the occupation than wrongly imprisoned Palestinians are personally responsible for Hamas’ suicide bombings. If you somehow mitigate the cruelty of his imprisonment by asserting very vaguely that individual Israelis need to do more to oppose the occupation, you must also point out that individual Palestinians need to do more to stop terrorism that is done in their name.

      2. Rico Altman Merino

        What, in fact, WAS Shalit doing when he was captured? Was he actually in the midst of an activity that supported the occupation? Kerem Shalom is not in the West Bank. Israel had withdrawn from Gaza, and the blockade had not yet begun when he was captured. Unless you are saying that NO military activity on the behalf of the state of Israel is legitimate, Shalit himself is innocent.

      3. aminriadh

        So I wonder “Rico” do you call thousands killed and in Israeli Jails for mere suspicion. Or what do you say about Barbar Ahmad rotting in British prison without charge for seven years. Or what about hundreds kept in Guantanamo Bay – with about charge.

        How selective your symapth seems to be. Shalit was member of israeli Army. He was fully prepared to kill innocent Men, Women and Children – as many many Israeli soldiers are and have done so. They are INDOCTRINATED to the point of hate.

        It was more the “humanity” of terrorist HAMAS they kept him alive. Their political acumen that they got 1000 in return.

        Shalit was and never will be innocent.

  2. anonymous

    “Unless you are saying that NO military activity on the behalf of the state of Israel is legitimate”

    this is correct. serving in the terrorist state’s army makes you a terrorist.

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