Why I’m not marching

What does the new Schalit campaign hope to accomplish? Is there anyone in the country who does not already think that Gilad should be freed?

Noam Schalit 311  (photo credit: Associated Press)
Noam Schalit 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Yesterday, I received a call from the well-organized and highly-efficient Gilad Schalit March Committee, asking if I would join its parade when it reached our area. Politely and with no little reticence, I said, “No.”
I have marched for any number of causes throughout my life. I marched against the war in Vietnam while a student in the ’60s; I marched in protest at the French embassy during France’s arms boycott of Israel, and screamed, “Poo, Poo, Pompideau!” I marched with 250,000 Jews from around the world in the famous March on Washington for Soviet Jewry in 1987; I marched countless times on behalf of the State of Israel. I have even marched to save the whales and the ecology.
Those marches were pure of purpose and had a solid, sensible goal behind them: To raise public awareness and convince the powers that be to right a terrible wrong.
But what is the raison d’etre of the Schalit campaign? What does it hope to accomplish by this nationwide campaign? Is there a Jew anywhere in the country who does not already think that Gilad should be freed? Is there any decent Jew in this country who is unaware of his plight, or who is apathetic and unsympathetic to it? Clearly, beyond the march being a “happening” and the “thing to do,” this summer, it is meant to place unbearable pressure on the prime minister and members of the Knesset. Noam Schalit has said just that in so many words, “We will march to the Prime Minister’s Residence and will not leave until Gilad is with us!” he exhorts the marchers.
But just what does he want Bibi to do? Hasn’t Netanyahu already leapfrogged over every previous red line and agreed to free 1,000 terrorists and murderers, including many with blood dripping from their hands? Hasn’t he already, under intense pressure, agreed to disregard the expert opinion of both the military – who risked and forfeited countless lives to capture these monsters – and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and let these despicable criminals go? No, the endgame of this march is as obvious as it is ominous: We should allow our archenemy Hamas to set the agenda, list the most outrageous demands and then capitulate to its every sinister wish.
LET US be perfectly clear about something: Hamas has absolutely no humanitarian interest in seeing its prisoners freed. It would just as soon let them rot until their deaths in our prisons. In fact, it often proclaims that this would be a good thing for them, as it would ensure their saintly rewards as martyrs to Allah. No, Hamas has one objective and one objective only: to bring Israel to its knees and cause its complete collapse. That is why it specifically asks that we free precisely those mega-murderers whose liberation will demoralize our country, mock our system of justice and assist it in its obsessive drive to exterminate the Jewish state and all its inhabitants.
In war – and make no mistake, people, we are in a war, to the death, with Hamas – there are two guiding and sacred principles: Know your enemy, and never, ever do anything which helps your enemy’s cause.
If we march at all, we should be marching to the Gaza border to demand its complete closure until our boy is freed. We should march en masse to the offices of the European Union and demand that it stop fueling terrorism by paying hundreds of millions of euros to the intransigent Palestinians. We should march on the Red Cross and demand that it stop providing services to the Arab world until pressure is put on Hamas to allow visitation by independent organizations.
Every day, in my morning prayers, I ask God to protect our soldiers and free Gilad Schalit. As the bereaved father of a brave IDF sergeant, how could I not? I consider each and every soldier a holy messenger of the Almighty and a hero of the nation, prized above all others. But while I desperately want Gilad to come home, it cannot be at any price. It cannot be at the cost of endangering our entire nation. That, tragically, would be a march to madness.
The writer’s son, Sgt. Ari Weiss, fell in battle against Hamas terrorists in Nablus in September 2002.