Because They Can’t Steal Our Kids
Daniel Gordis has an exceptionally powerful dispatch. Read this selection and then read the whole thing. Emphasis in bold is mine.
“And then, I was driving down Hebron Road, a main drag in our part of town, and I stopped at a red light. Itâ€™s been hot this week, so all the cars had their windows closed and the air conditioning on. There was another car in the lane to my left, and one to the right. The newscaster (for who wasnâ€™t tuned to the news?) announced that that Giladâ€™s parents had written him a letter and had made it public. He then read the text (the translation is mine, but the Hebrew original is posted):
â€œTo our dear, sweet Gilad,
Mommy and Daddy, Yoel and Hadas, are terribly worried about you, want to hear you, and hope that you are healthy and that you feel OK, as well as you can in your circumstances. We hope that you will be able to read these words, and we want you to know that all possible steps are being taken so that you can return home to Hila and the Galilee, as quickly as possible, to your family, and to your room that is waiting for youâ€¦.
Know that we are thinking of you at every moment, [hoping] that you are somehow managing, and that you will make it through these difficult moments. We know and believe that the people holding you also have families, and will know what it is that we are enduring, and will know how to take care of you and [safeguard] your health.
We love you and send you strength.
Mommy and Daddyâ€
As the newscaster finished reading the letter, I happened to glanced out the windows of my car. Both drivers to my side, one a man in his fifties and one a woman in her late twenties, were wiping tears from their eyes. The windows didnâ€™t need to be open to know what theyâ€™d been hearing.
And then, what had been rumors of a second kidnapping proved true. On the West Bank, the PRC claimed to be holding Eliyahu Asheri. An eighteen year old kid, now in the hands of animals, for the crime of hitchhiking. His picture, too, went up on all the websites (and is also posted). Another big child. Wearing a t-shirt, sitting under a tree. With a wide smile. And a numb country didnâ€™t know what to do. (Eliyahu, of course, was shot in the head the day they kidnapped him, and was buried yesterday. Another reminder of who our neighbors are.)
In the meantime, the IDF was amassing tanks, APCâ€™s and artillery along the border, just minutes away from the high school that Iâ€™d visited in November. The enormous array of armor was a relief, at least to people here. Because they canâ€™t steal our kids and think that weâ€™re simply going to let it go on. Then, a few nights ago, the movement into Gaza began. Now, days later, the campaign still goes on. Weâ€™ve bombed here and there, have taken out much of their electric power, destroyed some bridges, sealed Gaza tight, buzzed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad summer home with four F-16â€™s. But still, no Gilad. So the IDF arrested dozens of members of the Hamas government. And still, no Gilad.
The rest of the world thinks weâ€™re looking for a kidnapped soldier, so they donâ€™t really get this massive reaction. The EUâ€™s beginning to express concern. Bombing bridges was OK, but arresting the members of Hamasâ€™ parliament, they think, is a bit over the top. Buzzing Assadâ€™s palace, weâ€™re told, was provocative. Maybe.
The reason they donâ€™t get it is that they think weâ€™re looking for a soldier. But weâ€™re not. Weâ€™re looking for Gilad. Everyone I hear talking about it calls him by name. Never â€œthe soldier.â€ Always Gilad. Our cell phones are buzzing with text messages reminding us to say a Psalm for him. Email in-boxes are filling with the same reminder, and even include the text of the Psalm, so you can say it right when you open the e-mail. And then, youâ€™re supposed to forward it.
For the past several mornings, as our kids have woken up, the very first words out of their mouths have been â€œDid we find him?â€ They just have to look at us to know the answer. Not yet. The unbearable week drags on.
The international press is abuzz with the accounts of what Israelâ€™s troops are up to. Itâ€™s an interesting word, that term â€œtroops.â€ One of them (though not one whoâ€™s in Gaza) has a bedroom across the hall from ours. She got some mail the other day, but she was away in the army, so I walked upstairs to leave it for her. To the left of her desk was her knapsack, which, for some reason, she hadnâ€™t taken with her back to the base. Draped over the chair behind her desk, a shirt from her uniform. And on her bed, her stuffed animal, Curious George, or â€œCuriousâ€ as weâ€™ve all called him since he joined the family the week she was born nineteen years ago.
The combination of her uniform shirt draped over the chair, and Curious lying there all alone, almost as if he was waiting for her to come home â€“ especially this week â€“ was simply too much. I just needed to get out of her room. So I put the mail on her desk, gave Curious a last glance, left the room and firmly shut the door. “