Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gilad Shalit versus Natan Sharansky

As Israelis of all stripes await the return home of Gilad Shalit, my mind keeps taking me back to another Jew who spent even longer in a foreign jail.  Yes, that is Natan (Anatoly) Sharansky, who was imprisoned by the Soviets for ten years.  Sharansky's "crime" was his charismatic leadership of Soviet Jewish Zionists.  His decade in prison didn't dull him a bit, and he quickly became a political leader in Israel, too.

Gilad Shalit was just an ordinary soldier.  He was no different from my sons or those of my neighbors or any Israelis of all incomes, life-styles or ideologies.  That was one of the themes of his parents', Noam and Aviva Shalit, campaign to get him "released at any cost."  The elder Shalits have held themselves as examples of what parents should do under such circumstances.  In response to the Supreme Court petitions by bereaved families, Noam even had the gall to blame those families for not joining his campaign.

The return home of Gilad Shalit is expected any time now.  He will be the country's latest "etrog," carefully cared for and protected.  Nobody is certain of his physical and mental state.  It has long believed that he has been drugged and brainwashed these past five years and probably tortured, too.

Gilad Shalit is no Natan Sharansky and never was. Only in the future we'll see who and what he really is capable of.  I hope he's not pushed into any public position.  May he be the last Israeli captured by Arab terrorists.


Anonymous said...

This post was very unfair. Most of us are no Natan Sharansky, never were and never will be.

What exactly is the point?

Anonymous said...

as parents we can understand how his parents feel. because we are all parents. but for the victims families, its must be equally tragic. perhaps by the parents stressing he is an ordinary soldier, and not some high ranking officer, they hoped or felt that the kidnappers will think he is not worth keeping. what i dont understand is how come world renown mossad did not know where he is. its unbelievable that his place was a secret till today. not with israel's expertise and world renown tracking of enemies. something seems to be a miss.

Anonymous said...

your post was unfair, and unfeeling.
if noam had gone even further in his single-minded efforts for his son i would have had even more respect for him.
and please, let us not go into comparisons or expectations of gilad shalit. i hope he just lives a good, peaceful life from here on in.
at this point when all the decisions have been made, let us just be happy and content that a jewish boy is coming home.

MAOZ said...

To those 2 "anonymouses" [or maybe it's the same person each time?] who won't even identify themselves to the extent of using a "nom de keyboard" -- you accuse Batya of being "unfair" and "unfeeling". If she were unfeeling, her heart would not ache so for the victims -- past AND future -- of the terrorist savages. And if you think her comments are unfair, what do you think of the fairness of the whole Shalit-at-any-price-except-for-making-things-uncomfortable-for-any-Arabs campaign?

Batya, I'm with you all the way.

Batya said...

maoz, yes, you got it. All those a's are just fakes. Obviously they don't read my blog and about "feeling," I've felt the pain of terrorism, which I doubt they have experienced. and as a mother of 5, in Israel 41 years, I've been to more funerals, caused by Arab terrorism and violence, than they immagine. I'm glad you're with me.

Anonymous said...

hard to believe that you dont think i read your blog.
i too am a parent in israel.

my point, and i assume that of the other anon, is that right now we can feel great relief and joy. we were in an impossible position, and a right solution does not exist.
right now i am so thrilled.
i am trying not to let what may very well happen in the future mar my relief.

and at least address your unfair comparison with sharansky.

Anonymous said...

and we have no 'ordinary' soldiers. not in my israel.

Keliata said...

I with you all the way, too Batya:)

Regular readers of your blog know just how caring and feeling you are.

Shira said...

I don't know, Batya. As happy as I am to see Gilad Shalit free, I hate that we've freed over a thousand terrorists for one Israeli. But to compare Gilad Shalit to Natan Sharansky is - well, I don't know why you did, because it's not as if Shalit has held himself up as an example of anything. He just wants to be home, recover, and try to have a life. I don't like how his parents - particularly his father - have behaved, and I do think the price is too high, and that an unknowable number of people will suffer as a result of this deal. But do you want, essentially, for Gilad to "prove" that he was worth it? I'm not sure what the point was of your post, and it seems unfair to Gilad Shalit, who didn't ask for any of this and would almost certainly agree with you that he is no Natan Sharansky and that his suffering, while tremendous, was less than that of Sharansky. It's possible to highlight the massive injustice and great danger of the deal without belittling a young man's suffering. There's always someone who has suffered more; that doesn't make it right or fair to point at that someone and say of Gilad Shalit that he's nothing special & not as good as them.

Batya said...

I wonder how many of you read this to the end:
"Gilad Shalit is no Natan Sharansky and never was. Only in the future we'll see who and what he really is capable of. I hope he's not pushed into any public position. May he be the last Israeli captured by Arab terrorists."

My mind goes in strange directions. This post wasn't to belittle Gilad Shalit. It's to protect him from the limelight. Sharansky was a public figure before being jailed. Let Gilad be...

Anonymous said...

"All those a's are just fakes. Obviously they don't read my blog and about "feeling," I've felt the pain of terrorism, which I doubt they have experienced. and as a mother of 5, in Israel 41 years, I've been to more funerals, caused by Arab terrorism and violence, than they immagine."

Why do you have to turn this into a competition, between Gilad and Natan, between yourself and your commenters? Yes you have experienced more than me, and I am truly sorry for everything you have been through, but I have lived in Israel for thirteen years, I sat tensely on the buses during all the piguim, protested in Gush Katif, and now I live in the Shomron, where most of my friends won't visit. Just because someone disagrees with you, or understands what you wrote differently from what you intended, it doesn't make them a fake. I wrote the first anonymous comment. I honestly didn't get the point of your post. It just seemed a bit harsh to compare a fresh faced 19 year old - when captured - Shalit to Natan Sharansky.

Anonymous said...

I too don't really understand the reason for your comparison here. Natan chose to fight the Soviet government and knew all that this meant.Gilad was just a boy in a uniform. Yes Sharansky was not much older than Gilad's 19 years when he decided to fight and standup against the Soviets. But the same can be said for all the children that served with the partisans during WW2.Sometimes in life when we are faced with untenable choices we are propelled into an untenable future.

However, greatness is also determined not always by choice but how one handles a situation. "There are some who are born great and others who have greatness thrust upon them." Sharansky's greatness lies not in the fact that he survived a Soviet gulag, it lies in how he survived and what he did with his life afterwards. For Gilad his greatness will be written in his life to come. What does he do with himself and how does he handle his future. The choice is up to him and him alone.

By the way I think you are anything but unfeeling. It takes alot of heart and soul to write on the subjects you do.

Batya said...

There's no competition in my mind between the Shalit and Sharansky. It's just that two "similar" awaited returns happened. I stressed the differences between them, not to "judge" just to share where my mind was.

The "competition" is just projection from all of you who read it that way.

It's very hard for someone to suddenly be in the limelight. I hope that Gilad doesn't feel his has to flee all the attention and pressure here.

IP, thanks for understanding.