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October 18, 2012 5:58 pm

Meeting Gilad Shalit: My Father’s Killer was Released to Bring Him Home

avatar by Jacob Kimchy

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Gilad Shalit salutes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after prisoner exchange deal in Oct. 2011. Photo: wiki commons.

The Shalit agreement signed last year paved the way for the release of over 1,000 terrorists. Among them was one of the culprits responsible for the attack that killed my father over 10 years ago, on May 7, 2002.

Seven years ago, in memory of my father, I started One Heart, an organization that supports victims of terrorism around the world. As such, I strive to serve as a voice for victims of terrorism. I support them and work to unite them. For me, the thought of releasing terrorists is like a knife in the heart.

Last year, I gave the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, a letter signed by an American Senator as well as victims of terrorism from around the world. The message was clear: Do not release terrorists. We must fight terrorism. At the same time, I promoted a massive prayer rally for the release of Gilad Shalit, waiting for news of a special operation to release him. Together with millions of people from around the world, I prayed for him to make it home safely.

A few weeks ago, I met a former Shin Bet agent and I asked for his opinion regarding The Shalit agreement. The answer wasn’t surprising to me. He said that even if his own brother was kidnapped by Hamas, he still would not ask for the release of 1000 terrorists in exchange. Israel has a strong army and an amazing intelligence that can fight the enemy. We cannot give into them. It’s just a matter of time before the next soldier is kidnapped.

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Another former Israeli Shin Bet agent conveyed a clear massage to me in a meeting a few years ago. He told me that as a young agent, he used to enter Arab villages, without guards or weapons, and ask to speak with those involved in terrorism. His name and reputation was enough to keep him safe, as the village knew who he was. He continued and said, “Jacob, you are among the next generation of Israeli leaders and you need to understand that we have lost our strength. We are not a force to be feared anymore. If I went into the wrong village today, I would be abducted and 1,000 terrorists would be released in exchange for my body.”

The 1,000 terrorists released in exchange for Gilad Shalit were a very high price to pay for Israel. With their release comes anger and fear.

Last night I met with Gilad. I didn’t know what to expect before meeting him and experienced a lot of conflicting emotions, but after we spoke, I finally understood the meaning of the Shalit Agreement. It’s hard to explain the happiness I felt in my heart while talking to him and seeing his smile. With a tear in my eye, I told him about the loss of my father and that we had both been hurt by the same group of people. I told Gilad that One Heart will always be there for him, but more importantly, that I will be there if he needs a friend and support.

Meeting Gilad closed an important circle for me. I didn’t care anymore about the 1,000 terrorists who went home as heroes. What mattered was his smile, and happiness. So for that, I want to say thank you to Binyamin Netanyahu for bringing Gilad home.
But, it’s time for the Israeli government to wake up and to act with all their power against any form of terrorism. For the past few years, we have seen the weakening of the Israeli government and its failure to bring peace to its citizens. There is a need to stand up and fight. There is a need to bring strength back to Israel. We need to be strong in the face of terrorism.

We need to be clear – Hamas will never win. Not against Israel. Not against victims of terrorism and not against Gilad. We will all continue, we will move on, and we will be strong in the face of opposition. We will build new lives based on good values, giving and support. Gilad, it was truly a pleasure to meet you. Be strong, and grow to be whatever you would like. That is the best gift you can give us all.

Jacob Kimchy is a speaker, activist and consultant for non-profit organizations around the world. He is currently the Founder and Executive Director of One Heart One Hope, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping and connecting victims of terrorism and their families across the world.

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  • Mel

    It may not be germane, but the pressure placed upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to cut a deal with the terrorists to capitulate to the shameful “Free Gilad Shalit!” movement proves little more than the Israeli Left majority is as dumb as its American counterpart.

    Ignoring for the moment its invitation to trade Gilad for the recently-inevitable 100+ hostages from other families, the precedent it set gave the green light to President Obama ‘secretly’ negotiate with the Iranians. You can bet tonight’s sunset Pacifist Obama (pandering for re-election votes) will announce a deal with Iran to scrap its nuclear bomb program. You can bet tomorrow’s sunset the deal will not survive his second inauguration

  • Chava

    I’m impressed by the author’s honesty and strength and I agree with Lia’s comment
    about your father –may his soul rest in peace — looking down with pride and helping you in your work.

  • Greg

    I am sorry for your loss. I am not a political activist, extremist or even knowledgeable on world affairs, diplomacy, terrorism or any international matters.

    Over the years, Israel has shown the world how to run a safe airline, turn a dessert into a prosperous land,and defend itself against many countries and political parties (Including terrorists) that would like to wipe it off the map. Israel has contributed enourmously to better the world in medicine, science, technology and virtually everything else.

    I think the world in general thinks Israel is a small state of Jews. I don’t think many people outside of the region realize that there are also Chrstians and Muslims living and working in Israel.

    My reason for commenting is because of the statement that Israeli leaders are not as strong and no longer feared. I am only SPECULATING that this is because one of Israel’s strongest supporters and allies (The United States) has been sytematically turning it’s back on Israel. The current United States President is inept, unfit to hold office and has an agenda which does not include Israel. The current U.S. President appears to be a Muslim and Muslim sympathizer and appears to be the “enemy within”! Hopefully, he will only be a one-term President and hopefully Mitt Romney will win the upcoming election and bring back The United States back to its former greatness. The United States could actually learn a lot from Israel.

    I am not familiar with The Shalit Agreement, nor have I ever been directly affected by a terrorist. In my mind, terrorism thrives as a war being fought by uneducated people with no respect for life (Their own life or anybody else’s) They don’t “play by the rules” of war that developed countries adhere to. The conundrum for me, is this… I love my life and value life, yet I believe the world would be a better place without terrorists… yet, if all terrorists were targeted and killed, wouldn’t that be the same as the holocaust?

    It’s a shame that religious indifferences have caused more death on this planet throughout its history than anything else. Wouldn’t it be nice to think that some day the leading cause of death would be “old age”?

    G.L. U.S.A.

    • Mel

      Is tolerant, perfunctory public education the reason native-born Americans have been so dumbed down they must take remedial, high-school-level Reading and Writing courses in college so they have the tools to learn much of anything else?

      Even if an ESL student, G.L.’s statement and question as I quote below:

      ….”I am not familiar with The Shalit Agreement, nor have I ever been directly affected by a terrorist. In my mind, terrorism thrives as a war being fought by uneducated people with no respect for life (Their own life or anybody else’s) They don’t “play by the rules” of war that developed countries adhere to. The conundrum for me, is this… I love my life and value life, yet I believe the world would be a better place without terrorists… yet, if all terrorists were targeted and killed, wouldn’t that be the same as the holocaust?”….

      The reason Holocaust Education was introduced to U.S. public education was to spare Americans from ever becoming genocidal. But if the trade-off is a morally-bankrupt, non-judgemental, live-and-let-die population, why bother? U.S. students have been taught that 2 + 2 = 4 in mathematics classes, but that 2 + 2 = 7 in economics classes for so many years they cannot process information rationally.

      While President Obama, by Executive Order, may have removed from the federal lexicon all words having the root “terror” from sharing a paragraph containing a word having the root “Muslim” or “Islam, G.L.’s question boils down to:

      “Terrorists roam the world, intending or threatening to capture, kill, rape, maim or otherwise place their innocent victims in eternal fear for their lives. Haven’t they the same expectation of non-interference as their victims (who usually are minding their own business) because, with a Christian worldview, I believe all people are the same, but even if they ultimately are not, didn’t Jesus say we should “Turn the other cheek!”?

      When Iran calls for the United States’ and Israel’s destruction (as the ‘Great Satan’ and ‘Little Satan’) while buying the nuclear capability to do so, claims its weapons-grade uranium enrichment is for “Peaceful Purposes” are ludicrous. Sitting atop enough oil to fuel its energy needs for a thousand years, exporting terrorism worldwide enables nuclear Iranian conquest because world leaders know its mullahs are mad enough crying “Allahu Akhbar!” and “Peace through Submission to Allah!” to trigger World War Three.

      No, G.L. It’s nowhere near the same!

  • Lia chasen

    Dear Kobi,
    Very moving. You are a wonderful person and your father , who I believe is watching from heaven, is very proud of you and your work.
    Hugs,
    Lia

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