“1027 Terrorists Were Freed. Gilad Shalit Returned Home”
“Helmut” is a nickname given to IDF soldiers who are considered clumsy. The soldier who always places the rubber band holding his trousers lower end on the shoe, instead than on the leg just above the shoe.
The derogatory term is not directly related to the German name. It is derived from “helem” (shock); the German name just gave it legitimacy as a name. Gilad Shalit is the archetypal IDF Helmut.
Corporal Shalit was captured by Hamas inside Israel, near the Kerem Shalom border cross with Gaza, on June 25, 2006. He was released on October 18, 2011 in a prisoner exchange deal. The logo above belongs to Settler Channel 7 and clearly shows the problematic nature of the event. Why Gilad is Helmut?
The reasons for his being captured were clear. He was unaware of the orders given to him. He was unaware of the territory he was crossing, including of the disturbing fact that a backup force was next to the spot where he was captured. He did nothing to save the lives of the other two crew members in his tank. Hanan Barak and Pavel Slutzker died in the event. Then he gave away his weapon without fighting. “Helmut” is a kind way of referring to him. Super-Helmut, Palestinian hero.
Blood in their hands…
Today, June 21, 2013, is the 11th anniversary of my crossing over to Jordan and leaving Israel. After such a long period, I am still surprised on the vast cultural differences separating me from Westerners. Recently, in Obama in Jerusalem with a Lame Spy, I mentioned that Pollard has “blood on his hands” and left the phrase without explanations. After all, it is clear, isn’t it?
Dead Man Walking
After the deal was announced but before it was signed, on October 14, 2011, Shvuel Sahiwaschorder (the spelling in Roman characters may vary) vandalized Rabin’s Monument next to Tel Aviv Municipality, at the exact spot where Yitzhak Rabin had been assassinated. The event was filmed by a security camera; he was detained shortly after while attempting to run away with the help of a taxi (their drivers always double as police informants). Shvuel admitted that this was done as an answer to the Shalit’s Deal. His parents had died during the attack at the Sbarro shop in Jerusalem in 2001, and the assassin had been announced to be freed in exchange for Gilad Shalit (see No Way Home for Gilad Shalit).
Lieutenant General Avihay Ronetzky, former IDF Chief Rabbi, gave Yedihot Aharonot an awesome interview on the day the deal was signed. He said the only way to free Shalit properly was through a military action (an event that failed in 2006, it is known as “Operation Summer Rains,” “Mivtza Gishmei Kaitz” in Hebrew). “Otherwise,” Ronetzky added, “Shalit is to be considered as a dead man.”
This position may seem difficult to understand coming from a religious leader.
Yet, it has its moral justifications. Elhanan Tannenbaum, an IDF colonel, who turned later in his trouble life into a Mossad agent, was captured in year 2000 by Hezbollah during a drugs deal in Lebanon (drug-trafficking is a Mossad major source of income). He was released in 2004 in exchange for 435 Palestinian prisoners in Israel, including Mustafa Dirani and Sheikh Abdul-Karim Obeid who had been criminally kidnapped years before by Israel as bargaining chips for future negotiations.
Israel claims that 231 Israeli citizens have been directly killed since then by those freed in that deal. Considering this, the Shalit Deal looks even stranger; all of the sudden the explanation offered in Palestinian Hero Gilad Shalit Freed (financial gains for the Israeli military oligarchy) emerges as the most probable one. Especially since Netanyahu himself was the harshest critique of such a deal while he was still in the opposition.
Few Israelis consider him a hero for having spent comfy years in a Hamas hotel, many consider him a Palestinian hero; the only sure thing is that there is no way home for Shalit. The home he knew doesn’t exist anymore. He had become a bunch of symbols and bargaining chips.
A few hours later, I discovered that it wasn’t clear. I got hate emails from Americans who didn’t understand that I was saying that Pollard shouldn’t be released.
Yet, Hebrew speakers refer in such a way to a person that has killed. Israel’s policy is never to release from prison Palestinians convicted of killing. Against this policy, Netanyahu signed the swap deal, in which Israel claimed that there were the responsible for 569 deaths.
Let me phrase this softly, Gilad Shalit is not considered a hero in Israel, and Netanyahu put his reputation in danger by agreeing to the swap.
Shalit on Hamas poster in Nablus, May 7, 2007
“Our champion captives. May we have a new Gilad each year.”
Related: Minority Report: IDF arrests Palestinian prisoner released in Shalit swap
“You never write about Canada,” is a recurring complaint I get, especially after publishing an article about the USA. I don’t feel comfortable if I don’t get at least one such email every month.
“I promise to do so as soon as relevant,” is my archetypal answer. I would have never imagined that my first Canadian article would be a footnote on the Gilad Shalit Business series. A NASDAQ IPO of Shalit seemed more probable.
Compared with Canada, the USA is an anti-Israeli country. The cooperation between the two countries is extensive. Recently, on May 4, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced a call for project proposals under the Canada-Israel Energy Science and Technology Fund during a meeting with Israeli business leaders in Tel Aviv. “Canada is open for business, and we want to expand our trade and investment with Israel, creating jobs, growth and long-term prosperity for Canadians,” he said.
This is just the most recent item. Canada is the unlikely recipient of a “resident military attache” from Israel. Probably this is a first in human history. Despite the Canadian Government enthusiasm of a friend that had been defined as “terror inflicting” by the UN, its Jewish community is less supportive of the entity ruining its reputation.
Jewish National Fund* Canada invited Mr. Shalit as its honor guest for a visit to take place between September 16 and 28, 2013, in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, and Vancouver. The event is supported by the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Almost as official as such an event can get, a consensus to honor Shalit was expected. Yet, this didn’t happen. Israeli flags were hurriedly folded and hidden; brass bands are running amok across Canada trying to find a different event.
Did Palestinians oppose the visit of their hero? Of course not! The campaign against Shalit is led by B’nai B’rith Canada.
The powerful Jewish National Fund is challenged by an older and more powerful Jewish organization, B’nai B’rith.** The time and place of the last battle in this War of Titans is still unknown; however, the first battle took place on The Jewish Tribune, a Canadian newspaper which is the official voice of B’nai B’rith Canada.
In recent weeks, the newspaper defined the Canadian Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs as Leftist and liberal, claiming that it does not represent the entire Jewish community. Then, it published a little masterpiece of propaganda written by Atara Beck, a former journalist of the newspaper until she moved to Israel in 2011. Since then, she acts as the paper’s Israel correspondent. As such, she published several articles on Shalit, as a preparation for the visit.+
Let me quote from the latest in the series: “They used the popular Hebrew term ‘rosh katan,’ which literally means a ‘small head’ and is commonly used in the army to describe a soldier with little initiative. It was also the term used in media regarding the timid Shalit, who clearly did not fit the role assigned to him on the fateful night of his abduction and the murder of two fellow soldiers.”¨Of course, he was not “abducted” but “captured;” his friends were “killed” and not “murdered.” These were soldiers in action, not kids playing soccer. For propagandistic reasons, Israel favors hysteric descriptions.
The Jewish community expressed concerns regarding the logic of inviting Shalit because “it would irradiate weakness.”
On the same issue, a letter by Harry Smith from Montreal was published. Its title was “Dismayed by Shalit’s visit.”++ He wrote: “What a foolish idea it is for Jews to herald and fête a young man who is a hero and symbol of victory – to the Palestinian world.” Mr. Smith’s Hebrew is clearly less good than his French; instead of the proper “captives-redemption” Hebrew term, he says to be aware of “bait-redemption.” Following this gaffe, he continued: “This is not a hero. He gives us nothing to celebrate. Let him live out his life peacefully in France (Shalit has French citizenship) or Israel but please blend into the background and may we live to forget this regretful experience.”
“Perhaps it is the Palestinians residing in Canada who should be given front row seats. They surely would bask in the glory of our shame,” said Smith, splitting the Canadian Jewish community in two strong and well armed camps. The Jewish Wars are approaching their zenith near the North Pole; 1027 Palestinians and their relatives daily thank their hero, IDF’s Gilad Shalit.
* In the 19th Century, Zionist Jews started a coordinated effort to buy lands in the Holy Land. Two organizations are key for understanding the current situation. The Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, literally “Existing Fund for Israel”) was founded in 1901 to buy land in Ottoman Palestine, and afterwards in the British Mandate for Palestine, Israel and the Palestinian territories. It still keeps buying land for Jewish settlements. In 2007, it owned 13% of the total land in Israel. Yet, it doesn’t belong to the State; hence an additional body completes the picture. Israel Land Administration manages land that is either property of the state or of the Jewish National Fund. It controls 93% of the land, the rest is privately owned or under the protection of religious authorities. Neither the State nor the Jewish National Fund sell lands. The best one can achieve is a lease-for-generations agreement with them. In other words, to rent the land for a century (see Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem sells the City).
** B’nai B’rith (pronounce “bnei brit”) has a double meaning in Hebrew. It means “allies,” but also “sons of the alliance,” referring to the Mosaic Covenant with God. It defines itself as the oldest Jewish service organization in the world, claiming that is committed to providing security and continuity to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, as well as combating antisemitism and bigotry. It is affiliated with the World Jewish Congress.
+ The last was Feiglin Calls for Volunteer Israeli Army, June 18, 2013, http://www.jewishtribune.ca/news/2013/06/18/feiglin-calls-for-volunteer-israeli-army
++ Dismayed by Shalit’s visit, June 18, 2013, http://www.jewishtribune.ca/commentary/2013/06/18/dismayed-by-shalits-visit
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.