During the past week, a feeling of unity has spread amid our divided nation. The abduction of Naftali, Eyal and Gil-Ad last Thursday shared us all with a wish of heart for their return. In the past week, all splits in the Israeli society were sewn back together.
During the past week, news reports deal with nothing but the abduction. There are no Orthodox youth trying to skip their military service to the discontentment of the secular public; no left-winged artists protesting against the “occupation”; no complaints about Israelis leaving trails of dirt in nature reserves. And yet, all eyes are on television screens, listening to the anchor, accompanied by a group of experts, analyzing the same bits and pieces of information over and over again.
People who I usually can’t start a conversation with without dragging into a loud political argument, now share a sad smile with me, when yet another news broadcast says nothing new in so many words. The very same people also share Facebook statuses with me, and even share a hashtag, with one request: #BringBackOurBoys.
During this week, people who are very different from one another also gathered in a united front against those who avoided all reports on the matter because this “news story” does not make Israel look like the aggressor. But most of all, people gathered against those who encouraged the abduction, and celebrated the disaster that turned three families’ lives upside-down.
I’ve seen this unity before. It was a few years ago, when Gilad Shalit was captured by the same terror organization, during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. For more than five years, Gilad Shalit was our son, our brother, and everyone felt a piece of him or her was missing, until his much-anticipated return home. On this joyful day, all eyes were on the television screen, watching him get off the plane and hugging his parents.
Israel is a divided nation, led by six major splits: National (between Arabs and Jews,) religious (between religious and non-religious people,) ethnic (between Ashkenazi and Sephardic,) political (between left and right wing,) social (between rich and poor,) and gender –oriented (between men and women.) These are a lot of splits for such a small place, but the fact Israel is so small also makes us one big family, where everyone refer each other as “brother” or “sister.” So when one of us, a member of our big, raptured Israeli family is taken away, we put our differences aside. On Sunday, thousands of people prayed, simultaneously, for the boys’ return. Thousands of people, even those who usually don’t set foot in a synagogue, chanted together, whispered to God a shared request – to bring our three brothers back, soon.