This past week a residents of Yitzhar, a town in Samaria located near Nablus destroyed a tent set up for army reservists; this was in response to the army carrying out the destruction of a new home built in the Yishuv. Almost everyone agrees the extent of vandalism crossed a line form disobedience to anarchy. In response to the vandalism, perpetuating a cycle of animosity, the army destroyed several more buildings in the Yishuv and shamefully turned a Yeshiva building into an army base.
When contemplating the large amount of criticism and condemnation this weekend towards the residents of Yitzhar another situation fresh in the memory of many Israeli’s came to mind.
When an agreement was reached to release Gilad Shalit in exchange for hundreds of murderous terrorist the country was very split and in a state of tremendous anguish. A court hearing was held to hear the claims of those who wished to abort the trade off so that the terrorists would not be released.
Noam Shalit, the father of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped and held for five years by Hamas, spoke at the hearing. Noam Shalit has made many statements and comments of which I do not agree with and some of which can even be considered foolish. This time however he made a very legitimate, potent and painful point to all those opposing the release.
He explained that there were in fact other options to release his son that had not been taken. Israel could have put all arab prisoners in solitary confinement. Israel could have pushed harder for a military operation securing his release. Israel could have pushed several different option with much greater force. Mr. Shalit asked where all of us were for five years. How come we didn’t push for other options? How come only at the last second right before a deal was struck did people come to oppose the deal instead of offering alternatives in advance.
In a very strong way he was right.
When discussing Yitzhar it behooves us to contemplate how we got to where we are today. One can only imagine imagine the feeling of loneliness and helplessness one must feel in order to view his own army as an enemy, as many of the residents of Yitzhar do.
Such a feeling only comes after one attends tens of funerals for neighbors and relatives.
Such a feeling only comes after your mother comes home with shattered car windows crying in hysteria.
Such a feeling only comes after you have watched soldiers destroy Jewish homes while Arab home are immune from destruction.
Such a feeling only comes after the murderer of your father is released by the Israel government.
Such a feeling only comes when all of this happens and the entire country is silent.
To those who raise their voice now: perhaps before of condemning them try and understand what can bring someone to such a level of helplessness? Then if you must, condemn them. When doing so however ask yourself the following:
Where were you when their father’s murderer was released from jail to a cheering crowd?
Where were we when there house was destroyed and a family with little children was left homeless in the middle of the night?
Where were you when they were pelted with rocks?
Where was your voice then?
Where were you when an Arab snuck into the Yishuv to try and find the week spot for the next attack?
Why did they need to dismantle an IDF reservists tent for you to realize something was wrong?
Where was your voice until now? Where will your voice be next time it is needed?