My immediate response and thoughts upon hearing about Noam Shalit's decision to run on the Labor Party Knesset list and become a politician, is that he has betrayed the trust and the immense good-will generated during the campaign to release Gilad.
By coming out of the closet; which is defined as "to talk in public about something which you kept secret in the past because you were embarrassed about it", Noam Shalit has reinforced that inner instinct, that repressed thought, that unsaid opinion that I felt, namely that had Noam Shalit been associated with the other side of the political map, the right side of the political map, those that believe in Eretz Yisrael, his whole campaign to release Gilad would have been ignored by the major media, ignored by the movers and the shakers, leaving his son to rot in prison.
No international sympathy, no screaming headlines, no millions of dollars of public relation campaigns donated pro bono. Noam Shalit's decision to use for his own political ambition the wave of public recognition that he gained by leading an apolitical campaign to release Gilad, resulting in a controversial political agreement that brought to the release of 1,027 terrorists, makes him personally and morally responsible should these terrorists strike again.
As a father, I can understand and identify with the personal pain of Noam Shalit and his family, and their need to do whatever could be done to release their Gilad. I can even comprehend the calculated risk and consequences of a lopsided and dangerous prisoner exchange that can only increase the number of future victims of terror.
What is inexcusable is Noam Shalit's use of our public support and recognition, using the "consensus of public opinion" for personal gain. I wonder at times, when and at what time in the campaign to release Gilad did Noam make the decision to run for pubic office? Was the successful campaign to release Gilad predicated on the need to give high exposure to Noam so that it could be used later down the line to advance his political aspirations in the Labor Party?. Had Gilad not been released, would Noam be the first to attack Prime Minister Netanyahu from the position of a leading figure in the Labor Party? The possibilities all lead to the conclusion, that Noam Shalit is not the man of values and morals that we have been told to believe about him.
The day that Gilad was released, many of us if not of us felt a sense of pride, that a whole nation was willing to sacrifice so much for one soldier. When we saw the grief of bereaved families who saw the murderers of their loved ones being freed, we were split and broken hearted, feeling the pain associated with parents who have lost a child, and the pain of parents struggling to save their son.
However, today in response to Noam's announcement, I hurt for the parents of terror victims who must live not only with their own irreplaceable personal loss but also with the feeling that Noam manipulated and exploited what happened to his son for his own personal gain.
Noam Shalit, by joining the list of future Labor Party Knesset members, shows his true colors. The political culture of an unrepentant political party that sold the nation a bogus peace process that has brought about thousands of deaths due to terror, is evidently the natural political home for a man who broke our hearts and betrayed our trust.
This past Shabbat, the editor of Hebrew Makor Rishon newspaper, Uri Elitzur, wrote that Noam Shalit is a sympathetic type of guy, having lead an incredibly successful public relations campaign to release his son Gilad. However, the campaign championed messages that were until recent years an anathema to the Zionist creed; messages like that the individual is more important than the majority, that the present is more important than the future, that "my" son is more important than your son.
These three messages, he said, are the very opposite of values that typified our formative years in which personal sacrifice for the benefit of Clal Yisrael; the Jewish People. was paramount, this belief being a central value that motivated our sons and daughters to charge the enemy under fire. The general public believed and supported the idea that the collective need was prioritized to supersede the individual need.
If in the past, he warned, decorated Generals who defended the State of Israel were the mainstay of those seeked out to join the list of new political leaders, today reality TV and public relation campaigns have joined forces to bring us media stars and people whose faces were in the media to lead Israel as she responds to the challenges of a potential nuclear Iran, the Arab Spring, the world economic crisis, and the daily difficulties inherent in managing the State of Israel.