Gilad Schalit in Captivity – Israel’s Most Valuable Asset of Occupation

shalitThe youth in Israel are raised to willingly and even proudly enlist in the army. I personally remember being promised by my high school teachers that if something happened to me, Israel wouldn’t forsake its “sons and daughters”. It’s been a while since I was in school, but nothing has changed:

[IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi] also told the troops that Israeli soldiers “must always remember that if anything happens to them, we will make sure they are returned to their families.”

I often ask myself how this can be said, when raising crops of gun-wielding robots is the main focus of the Israeli educational system. When you encourage me to enlist, do you not encourage me to die? When you encourage my parents to turn me over to the state’s care,  for the sole purpose of enlisting, do you not encourage them to make the ultimate Abraham’s sacrifice? How do people get so crazy as to willingly sacrifice themselves for a “greater good” that they are constantly told is unattainable, because the other side is no partner?

The Facts about the Gilad Schalit Case

It’s really important to remember the facts when it comes to Israel, because they are constantly being distorted to suit the Zionist narrative. In order to fully understand the Schalit scenario, we must look at the Schalit story as well as international law and a bit of Zionist history, to put it all into context.

Gilad Schalit was 19 – considered an adult by both Israeli and international law. Old enough to vote, old enough to drink, old enough to drive, old enough to choose to take arms (or decide not to do so). He was in the Israeli Army’s Armor Corps, which means he was part of a team that handles a tank. On 25 June 2006, he was captured by Hamas militants (who don’t have tanks), on the Gaza border, which means he was manning the borders of the largest and most densely populated open-air prison in the world.

While Israel likes to talk about the fact that Schalit has not been allowed to be examined by “an impartial humanitarian body”, it seems a bit of a stretch, when they violate so much of the Treatment of Prisoners of War treaty. Seeing as every Palestinian from Gaza or the West Bank are internationally considered under Israeli occupation, those of them sitting in jail are not criminal prisoners, but prisoners of war.

Another mind blowing fact that was hidden for a while, was that Israel knows, and has always known, exactly where Schalit is held:

The official said that the government knew where Schalit was initially taken immediately after his kidnapping, that it had consistently known where he was being held and that Hamas was aware of this.

This is actually old news, but never ceases to surprise the short memory span of the Israeli public, and like the Israeli nuclear program, never ceases to be denied:

The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit released a statement two hours later, clariying [sic] that “what the chief of staff meant to say was that we know Gilad Schalit is being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. His remark offers no new information.”

Israel has a long legacy of information. From before the time it was called Israel, and its army, cleverly titled the Israeli Defense Force, the Zionist project thoroughly documented every Arab village in Palestine and each and every one of its inhabitants (read Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine). Why would the 3rd (4th? lost count) strongest army in the world hide the fact that it knows where a captured soldier is, from the public it claims to protect and serve?

Quite simply, as the 2006 Lebanon war indicates, a captured soldier (a.k.a “son”) is the best excuse to try out the latest and greatest war doctrines. Even when the capturers iterate- as clear as day- that the only way to get back the captured is through negotiations. Having a young man held hostage, his zionist parents grieving, but not overwhelmingly angry at the government, is the perfect way to invoke a nation’s emotions and stir them into violent rage. Though this secular society doesn’t speak in these terms, Schalit has become a living martyr, to justify all violence, racism and vengeful wrath.

The Propaganda of the Gilad Schalit Case

The most effective thing the Schalit campaign has managed to do, is to humanize this one soldier of occupation and turn him into the son and brother of each and every Israeli (and of course world-wide Jews). While this outpouring of humanism from a public that couldn’t care less for a child, because it was of Arab origins, it’s exactly that which makes this whole thing suspicious. How is it that Gilad Schalit is no longer “Corporal Schalit, a prisoner of war”, but “Gilad, the kidnapped boy”?

The Israeli public that was barely exposed to the images of ashen and shot babies of Cast Lead, is constantly aware of Gilad Schalit. Not only a constant headline in the news, the Ha’aretz site, for instance, has a special Gilad Schalit banner on their sidebar, automated to count his days in captivity. The Israeli propaganda machine- from the government to the media- can pat itself on the back for a job well done, as it managed to mobilize the entire Israeli nation into a seemingly humane grassroots campaign, in support of a soldier of an occupying army. One must ask, though, why in a campaign to support a human being, the civil society decides to use national symbols?

Enlisting as a Humane Act

Run by the company KCS (Knowledge & Creative Solutions), there is a professional “Gilad is Still Alive” campaign, under the URL (“the sons” dot org). Now, I don’t know who pays these people for this specific campaign, but on their client list there’s “The Israeli Government”. Other projects:

The campaign is very thorough. In 8 different languages, stockpiled with resources, calls to action and humanizing factors such as hand writing, recordings of Schalit’s voice, prayers, and the cream of the “we want peace” propaganda pie, the story Schalit wrote when he was 11:

The symbolic story tells of the meeting between a young fish and shark who decide to be friends despite the tension and natural enmity between the two.

I would never have heard of the official online Schalit campaign, had they not started aggressively campaigning on the most watched channel in Israel- the privately owned, commercial Channel 2:

Our celebrity friends of the highest order are all saying the same thing:

“I enlisted, have you?”

Welcome to the “Army of Friends of Gilad” (I’m not making this up). Going one step further than the national symbols, the Israeli public uses to protest his captivity, KCS utilizes the IDF symbol:

Someone had to pay for this campaign, and again, though I can’t positively prove it, I suspect my tax money. This sanitized militaristic piece of propaganda seems like a direct response to the latest conscientious objectors letter, signed by 88 young people. 88 is without a doubt a huge number in a country the size of New Jersey, and “doggers” are a problem that must be dealt with on the public consciousness domain. After all, we don’t want anyone questioning our authority, now do we?

Gilad Schalit serves the government as a national unifier. Make no mistake, he is humanized for the sake of turning him into a symbol. As long as Shalit is in captivity, each Palestinian murdered, maimed and humiliated is justified.

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