I do remember them. Not so much because of their fate, which indeed is a major tragedy, but way stronger because of the circumstances their abduction goes with. Circumstances I honestly still feel a little ashamed of in retrospect yet that remind me how easily everyone can be fooled and how fast one is judging them.
It was the summer of 2006. Hard to believe it’s only been a little less then two years ago. When it comes to Israel my live was easy back then – though in so many other ways it wasn’t. I had been to Israel as a child and the vivid Pessakh (Passover)-ceremony had fascinated me as had the desert and the armed checkpoints within it. Yet I had seen many countries and many cultures evenly fascinating so back then Israel was in no way special to me. I had no clue that quite soon I would decide to move there for a while neither that I would come back so gravely changed.
The outbrake of the Second Lebanon War happened at the end of the semester at my German university. If it hadn’t been for a collegue of mine who had to cancel her trip to Lebanon because of the war perhaps I hadn’t even cognitivly recognized it. As I already mentioned: Isreal for me was no more no less then one of the world’s areas of conflict. Not quite different from the Kosovo or Chechnya. Had I been more interested in Israel I may have talked about it with people and come to have a clear oppinion but I hadn’t. Sure, I had had some of the usual “Free Palestine”-stuff expecially by far-leftwingers but never felt like engaging in their ‘struggle for freedom’.
Yet when the second Lebanon war broke out I knew why. Because of Shalit, and Goldwasser, and Regev. Because they had been abducted and now Israel was bombing half of Lebanon back into stoneage. Moreover for I recently had held a presentation about Lebanon and knew a little about the instable political system of the state and its long civil war, I was afraid for Lebanon to slip back into chaos. As embarrassing as it is it wouldn’t even cross my mind that Israel might have a real reason for its campaign. I found it completely capable of invading a sovereign state just because of three kidnapped soldieres.
True, Israel is capable of a lot in order to free their citizens – and there a convicted rapist isn’t “worth” less then a mother of twelve – things like releasing hundreds of Hamasnikim, the best part of whom being terrorists that Israel will need to catch again within the year. Before or after they have made somebody blow himself up at Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv. But starting a war is too much, even for Israeli standarts.
Only when I moved to Israel almost three quarters of a year later I learnt about the story behind the war. For the first time I realized that there had been Katjushas, rockets, fired by Hizb’ullah from Southern Lebanon at almost every settlement north of Netanya. And here I cannot even blame the Austrian or German media. They did report about it. I know they did and I checked later on. And when I am talking to people here in Austria these days they do know. Only me, I didn’t know.
So what the heck did make me, a rather sentient being, believe it was all because of the three soldiers? Was it – as some of my Israeli pals might suspect – uncounscious antiseminism? Or anti-Israeli propaganda in European media I had been inhaling from childhood on? Or might it have been no more then bad luck: Me by accident just getting hold of this bit of information and never reading about it again for I just didn’t care?
The question has been torturing me. Is it that simple to erase the pure idea of Israel being under attack itself from a thinking human’s being? It’s hard to believe. And unpleasant.
Today it’s 660 days since Gilad Shalit had been abducted. His friends and family and a lot of Israelis have never given up hope he might come back though hardly anybody allows himself to consider what might have happened to the young man described as
a well-mannered, quiet and introverted young man. An almost permanent shy and hesitant smile light up his face. Gilad is always volunteering to help everyone; even on his short vacations from the army he helped his parents run their “Bed & Breakfast”.
The war I once thought had been started because of him is long ended and today we know that it has been a disaster. Men and women from either side of the border have left their lives, children their childhood and the number of psychologically wounded is beyond countability. Resolution 1701 – rembered by me for being the same as number as Star Trek’s all-famouse spaceship “Enterprise” – has brought the United Nations to Southern Lebanon and some sort of miracle has prevented another civil war there, however it seems like the small republic is moving more and more towards being a vasall state of Syria (which seems to be little more then a vasall state of Iran …) and if intelligence isn’t as wrong as it was at the time of the Second Lebanon War Hizb’ullah is even stronger and better armed now then it has been before the war. The war has been a complete failure for the nation that started it and even more for Lebanon as free and democratic country and its population.
And I still struggle with the shock of finding out how easily I was fooled and the fear that just the same might happen again. This, however is my appeal to my fellow blogers: Don’t judge those who have been fooled by propaganda of either side too harsh. It’s such a narrow line between you and them. And always keep alert towards what you take as a given. You could be just as wrong as I was in 2006. As far as there is such a thing as “true” and “wrong”.