Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Leave Shalit alone

MK Dr. Nachman Shai

GIlad Shalit's return home is justifiably cause for great celebration. After five and a half years in Hamas captivity, and painstaking efforts to bring him home, there is no doubt that the entire public, especially the Shalit family, can breath a sigh of relief. The media played an active part in bringing him home by encouraging the public struggle - at times even more so than the family, who preferred quieter activism. The media advanced a public campaign featuring the widest possible exposure. This stemmed primarily from the nature of the media and, to a certain extent, from the sense that Israel's governments, one after another, required public support. That being said, it is hard to raise objections and make demands from the media at the sweet moment when Gilad will descend the stairs, as his father Noam describes to himself and to us day and night. It is, however, a moment during which the media needs to overcome its own instincts. It needs to allow Gilad Shalit to gradually and gently go through the process of returning home. No one has any idea which Gilad will return. All the psychologists, psychiatrists and experts who have spoken about the issue in recent days have flooded the air with assumptions, but each case is individual and there is no doubt the shock that Gilad will experience will be grave.

Therefore, especially at this moment, the media needs to take two steps back, clear out of his street in Mitzpe Hila, reduce the zoom on their cameras and turn off the microphones. What little information the public truly needs can be provided by the official report from the Israel Defense Forces' Spokesperson's Unit. Gilad must get the peace and quiet he requires. It is unthinkable that Gilad be imprisoned in his house because media crews are camped outside his door, nor should they accompany him wherever he goes. He should not have to endure another ordeal now that he is home.

I know that to a certain extent these are mere suggestions. It is hard to get today's media to agree to such a request, and even if there is such an agreement, there is always that one person who will upload a random photo to Facebook. What is necessary in this case is not only a rare agreement on the part of the media, but essentially a national effort.

It has been extremely difficult to bring Gilad home. It should be so much easier to give him the last gift we can: quiet.

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