Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Shlomo Artzi and Shalom Hanoch-It's so good that you came home

Gilad Shalit is finally home after 5 years and 4 months, and one endless and tense week since Prime Minister Netanyahu announced the deal with Hamas. It seems like much longer than a week has passed since last Tuesday. I was after a day of errands and walking home I heard someone from an apartment shout something about Gilad Shalit. This caught my attention because there wasn't much news about him in the days before-I stopped in front of the pizza place by my home and saw on TV Netanyahu announcing the deal with Hamas, and underneath was written that 1,000 prisoners will be released in return. I stood a bit in shock with some other people. Happy but also finding it a bit hard to believe. Will he really return? And the thought of 1,000 heavy prisoners with blood on their hands being set free is a bit hard to digest. I was never really at peace with the idea that Gilad should be returned at any price, and I always felt I was in the minority. However it felt that the time has come- too many holidays had passed without him and he really had become "everyone's boy"-every mother and father who had sent their children to the army, or were planning to in the future, could relate to Aviva and Noam. Every soldier past, present, and future could relate to Gilad. I think what especially paved the way to Gilad's release was Ron Arad. Arad, a navigator, fell captive in Lebanon in 1986 after his plane crashed and efforts to negotiate a swap failed, partly because of the deadly results of the "Jibril Agreement". Up till today, it is unclear if Arad is alive (although chances are high that he isn't). The Jibril agreement was made in 1985 in which 3 captives were swapped for 1,150 prisoners. Most of the prisoners returned to their homes and were said to be responsible for many of the deadly attacks of the first intifadah. Netanyahu, who lost his brother during the terror attack in Antibes, was strongly opposed to the deal. Which is why it was so surprising that he suddenly changed his policy. Netanyahu stressed that an opportunity like this might not come again, probably referring to the Arab Spring and changing relationship with Egypt. He also stressed that Israel is strong enough to deal with such a high number of prisoners. And there was the fear that Shalit will become the next Ron Arad, a thought very hard to bear. Anyways since last Tuesday there has been endless talk about the deal and the old saying of "two jews will always have three opinions" proved true with the endless debate about the dilemma but many people said that they will not celebrate and be at rest until they see that he is alive and well, physically and mentally. And we saw that today.
The first thing I did when I woke up was turn on the TV to catch up on the news. While I was preparing breakfast, I heard a neighbor from the building next to us shout to his wife "Tzila! Come quick! They're showing him! He's alive!". My mom and I rushed to the TV and sure enough there he was, skinny and pale being led into a car on his way home. "Oh my gosh he looks like a holocaust survivor!" my mother exclaimed and I had to agree. I wondered if his grandparents are holocaust survivors and what they're thinking while watching these pictures. I think that also might be part of the reason why we value human life so much after we lost so many lives 60 years ago. We all breathed a sigh of relief to see that he was alive and well, something that wasn't a given. The next fear was if he was well mentally? After all, he had spent so much time in isolation. We quickly saw during the scandalous "interview" with Egyptian press that he was not only mentally well and able to speak clearly but also very smart and successfully dodged the interviewer's controversial and not very smart questions such as "why do you think Egyptian negotiators succeeded where Germany failed" and "do you want Israel to release it's prisoners now that you've seen what it's like"-just one look at the prisoners released from the Israeli prisons made it clear that it was not the same thing at all. But Gilad, as tired as he looked, also looked excited towards his return home. The photo in which he talked to his parents on the phone was especially touching since the smile on his face was so much like Aviva's when she heard the news of his release.
What was especially emotional about the day was how it brought everyone together. There was such a sense of excitement in the air since last week. Especially among soldiers who saw that they really won't be left behind in the battlefield. Not that it now makes it any easier to go out to battle. Amidst the celebrations for Gilad I couldn't ignore the celebrations in Gaza and the reporter's serious comment that people there are thanking God and praying for the "next Gilad Shalit" to release all of its prisoners. There was a sense of sadness knowing that with each prisoner released there was at least one family of a victim of terror and this was a complex day for them. Everywhere I went there was talk about Gilad and anyone could join in and give their opinion(and everyone had an opinion)-which led to some very interesting conversations with people on the bus or at the market that I don't think I would have talked to otherwise. It seemed that we decided as a society to act with our hearts, and with all criticism aside it's what makes us who we are.
On another note, this song was originally performed by Arik Einstein but I really love this performance with two of Israel's biggest singers who show here that they are far from being rivals and just two guys who enjoy performing together putting their egos aside. I've always thought of this song as talking about a son returning from travels abroad and the lines "You had fun..you saw different colors" don't really apply to Gilad. As well as the line "everything here stayed the same" because things have changed quite a lot over here. But the rest of the song along with the line "a bit thin, but what does that matter" captures the pure happiness of his return.

It's so good that you came home
It's so good to see you again
Tell us how are you, tell us
Tell us how it was
And why didn't you send a postcard?

It's so good that you came home
A bit thin, but what does that matter
You had fun, you did things
You saw a bit different colors.

But how good it is that you're here
How good it is that you're already here
How good it is, good.

It's so good that you came home
Home already means everything
You were hot, were
You were cold
You're now happier
Already happier.

So how good it is that you came home
As if you left, left only yesterday
Everything here stayed the same
You're now older
Yes, older.

But how good...

It's so good that you came home
Really, you thought of me
How good it is that you came
That you came home
How good it is that you came to me
Yes, came to me




No comments:

Post a Comment