Festival of Freedom – Gilad Shalit
Gilad Shalit was abducted by Hamas over three years ago. His captors have not allowed him to be visited by family or the Red Cross. Hamas control the Gaza Strip, taking over in a wave of violence against the elected Palestinian Authority after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, uprooting its settlers as it left.
With thousands of Kassam missiles being fired at Israel, the military incursion, and the blockade on Gaza, Shalit is seen as low on anyone’s agenda. The fact that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are talking peace, does not really influence Gaza as Hamas refuses to become a player in the peace negotiations.
Shalit has medical issues, though in a video bought with the release of 20 Palestinian prisoners, he says he is being treated well. For a more personal update, follow this blog. Israel has offered 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for his release, but has stopped at the insistence that it include about 450 who were convicted for violent acts.
As Jews all over the world light the 4th light of the menorah (ritual candlestick), I feel a need to step away from politics. My first-born son was born on the 4th night of Chanukah. I cannot image what it is like for Gilad’s parents, and the parents of all political prisoners around the world. I believe the support for Gilad is so huge and sustained in Israel because of fabric of our society are strong family bonds. Pictures and posters are prolific throughout the country.
(The poster reads: Gilad is still alive).
On this night, my thoughts go out to the parents, spouses, and children of all political families. Family outweighs politics and ideologies. Perhaps if it always did, we would not suffer so much strife.
Alon Shalev is the author of The Accidental Activist (now available on Kindle) and A Gardener’s Tale. He is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Hillel Foundation, a non-profit that provides spiritual and social justice opportunities to Jewish students in the Bay Area. More on Alon Shalev at www.alonshalev.com