Walk on by: Tea and cake with Noam Shalit

By Melchett Mike
December 30, 2010

Strolling up Jerusalem’s Rechov Aza (Gaza Street) with Stuey and Dexxy last Wednesday teatime, I passed a tent which (from news coverage) I immediately recognised to be that set up by the family of Gilad Shalit.

Expecting only to find a handful of hard core activists inside – perhaps students and/or OAPs with too much time on their hands – I was amazed to see a seated Noam Shalit, the father of the kidnapped Israeli soldier.

I was taken aback. And seeing Mr. Shalit in the flesh for the first time brought home to me – in a way that none of the “Free Gilad” campaigns could or, indeed, have (see http://melchettmike.wordpress.com/2009/03/18/why-gilad-must-not-be-freed...) – the desperation of a parent to be reunited with his child.

I continued walking past the banners unfurled across the perimeter walls of the Prime Minister’s official residence (outside which the protest tent was set up in March 2009) – including one showing that the 24-year old had been in captivity for a staggering 1,641 days (he was captured on June 25, 2006) – but wondered whether it would be more menschdik to pop in and pay my respects. After all, doing nothing is easy; and this was the very least I could do.

So, having made an about turn, I nervously entered the tent and, finding myself face to face with Mr. Shalit, reverted – as I always do under the slightest pressure (though usually under rather different circumstances, chatting up totty on Rothschild) – to my mother tongue, babbling some incoherent platitudes at him. (I have always been crap at the shiva visit. And while this is not a shiva house, it very much has the feel of one.)

Mr. Shalit looked up at me with the tired expression of the mourner. And his English was much poorer than I would have imagined, after years of interviews by the foreign press.

“Are you here a lot?” I enquired of him, enunciating each word as if for the hearing impaired.

“I live here,” came the terse reply.

“Oh,” I said. Derrr. I had missed that nugget.

“Anyway,” I continued, suddenly desperate for the exit, “I just wanted to say that I hope Gilad gets released soon.”

But before Mr. Shalit had finished mumbling a cursory “Thank you,” Dexxy was up on the visitors table, swiping a particularly inviting-looking slice of chocolate cake off it.

My host looked even less pleased than usual.

“Err, sorry, Mr. Shalit,” I muttered, reverting to naughty Hasmo boy mode, all the while trying – and failing – to wrest the cake from Dexxy’s jaws.

And then I was out of there.

Even with the best of intentions, it is sometimes wisest just to keep on walking.



jose (not verified)

Fri, 12/31/2010 - 07:03

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Could Noam plant his tent in front of a Gaza crossing and explain the situation to all truck drivers who bring food into the Gaza strip for free to the captors of his son?

Could Israel rename the crossing after Gilad Shalit?

Could the UN and Red Cross print a photo of Gilad on all the food bags they deliver to Gaza, with a caption "Free Gilad"?

It seems to me that before blaming the government for things that the HAMAS is responsible for, there could be a lot of different actions. A typical Jewish problem is to put the blame on ourselves for the actions of others. 2000 years of slavery and antisemitism have selected our genes.
But Jews are no more slaves, Israel has been restored and this mechanism of self-blaming is not a protection anymore.


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