I’d like to send a book to Gilad

Perhaps if the flotilla peace activists had also taken books for Schalit they would have gotten more Israeli sympathy.

By
June 3, 2010 00:14
4 minute read.
I’d like to send a book to Gilad

schalit 298. (photo credit: Channel 10)

 
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I was waiting for a friend to undergo a CT at Hadassah Ein Kerem and watching news of the flotilla fiasco on television on Monday night.

There was Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman deftly defending the IDF commandos who raided the ships carrying aid to Gaza, yet acknowledging that from a PR perspective, Israel’s image would inevitably be harmed.

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Recalling Abba Eban’s famous refrain that when it comes to peace, the Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity, I thought to myself that when it comes to PR, Israel never misses the chance to mess things up.

I turned away from the TV, eager to find something to divert my attention, when I saw, on the table next to me, half a dozen books in English.

I opened one that caught my eye. It was Jerry Seinfeld’s Seinlanguage, and inside was an attractive sticker that read: “This book is a part of the Benjamin Wandering Library. Please, take it home... read it and savor it. Then leave it in a safe place for someone else to pick it up and appreciate it too. If you would like to tell us how much you liked the book or where you found it, please write to us at this address: www.shemesh.co.il. Enjoy!”

I flipped open the book to the introduction and started reading: “I remember when Alan King would walk out on the Ed Sullivan Show hearing my mother say, ‘Now quiet.’ We could talk during the news but not during Alan King. This was an important man.”

I then read the introduction: “I certainly never imagined at 15, when I started writing down these funny thoughts that kept coming into my head, that someday they would amount to a book. I never thought they would amount to anything, really. But a lot of people have this little corner of their brain that wants to play all the time. The idea of this book for me and for you is to keep that corner alive. It’s good to play, and you must keep in practice.”



By the time I had finished the book, my friend had finished the CT. I took the book home, and immediately wrote a note to thank whoever had put it in Hadassah.

What a great idea! I bet Jerry Seinfeld wouldn’t have imagined that his book would end up in a Jerusalem hospital bringing a smile to the lips of someone struggling to divert his mind from depressing news on television. Yes, it had the same effect that Alan King had on his mother!

Kudos to that someone somewhere in Beit Shemesh who came up with the idea to leave books for people to read in a hospital and then pass them on. And it was done in a beautiful, modest way. They were covered with plastic just like we used to wrap school books. And hopefully, they are moving around Jerusalem and the world for bookworms like me to read and take their minds off CTs and freedom flotillas.

THE PEOPLE sending aid to Gaza did not have honorable intentions, despite their noble proclamations. They were trying to pretentiously and provocatively create confrontation in front of the world’s TV cameras, in an attempt to make Israel look bad. And yes, they succeeded.

While their ships may not ultimately have docked in Gaza, Israel looks bad because it responded with force when they tried to lynch the IDF commandos flown in to stop them. Now Israel – not Gaza – is under siege.

The so-called humanitarian aid, of course, will probably end up in the wrong hands. The Free Gaza Movement knew it could have just sent the supplies via the normal channels allowed by Israel, but it chose not to.

My favorite quotation from the flotilla affair was from the famous Swedish author Henning Mankell, who was on one of the ships. Upon his return to Sweden, he said the whole affair proved that it was time to introduce sanctions on Israel.

“We’ve tried many other things but the Israelis refuse to listen,” he was quoted as telling the newspaper, Expressen. “I think we should use our experience from South Africa. We know the sanctions had a great effect there. It took a long time but it worked.”

Gaza was sealed off, the world sometimes conveniently forgets, because a heavily armed terrorist organization took control of the territory and snatched an IDF soldier named Gilad Schalit in a violent raid, after which it refused to allow him the access demanded by international law, such as visits by the Red Cross.

The Freedom Flotilla was an act of solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and certainly not with a lonely Israeli soldier who has likely not read a book in Hebrew in almost four years. Perhaps if the so-called peace activists had taken books for Gilad to read, they would have gotten more sympathy from Israelis.

Gilad, who will be 24 in August, probably doesn’t know that the short story he wrote when he was 11 was published on the second anniversary of his capture, under the title, When the Shark and the Fish First Met.

It is the symbolic tale of an unlikely friendship between a little fish and a big shark despite the natural enmity between them.

As Israel celebrates Book Week, I’m sure Gilad would appreciate a copy. Maybe the Seinfeld book would cheer him up too. (I still have it and need to decide where to leave it for someone.)

But it would probably be as effective in securing his release as dispatching ships of aid was in helping the hungry in Gaza.

The writer is the managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

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