Making the Right Move to Return Two Heroes to Israel
by Sammy Hudes
It has been two years since the war against Hezbollah and yet Jews around the world are still feeling the side effects. With the recent prisoner swap between Israel and Hezbollah, and the terrible reality being faced of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev being killed, there have been mixed emotions between both Israeli and Diaspora Jews. I have had countless conversations with different people regarding this topic. I have found that most are angry, feeling that this trade is one-sided and too risky. Others completely ignore the topic and give me their take on how Ehud Olmert is a criminal and should not even be in office. Regardless, everyone has a story to tell. As do I.
Ever since the three soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, and Gilad Schalit were captured in the summer of 2006, I have felt a special connection to them, without even knowing them personally. My story begins during that summer, when my family was supposed to have a vacation in Israel on the occasion of my Bar Mitzvah. However, once the war broke out and we learned of the three captured soldiers, my Bar Mitzvah trip was cancelled. Although I was upset, I knew that three human beings were in a far worse situation. Another reason that I feel connected personally is a strange one. My date of birth is June 25. This happens to be the same date that Gilad Schalit was taken by Hamas. My time of birth is 7:12. Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were taken and killed on the 12th day of the 7th month by Hezbollah.
Two years after my Bar Mitzvah, I finally went on my Bar Mitzvah trip to Israel with my family. At that point, Jews had been praying for the three boys for over 700 days straight. While we had heard signs of life from Gilad Schalit, we still had no proof that the other two Israeli men were alive. On the 11 hour flight, I picked up the Canadian Jewish News and read an article stating that Hezbollah was set to release Goldwasser and Regev by June 25 or June 26. The article even showed optimism that they were alive. I knew right then and there that this story that I feel I am linked to would almost be complete. I was ecstatic.
From this point on, my story becomes a let down. While I am in Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert states that Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are in fact dead. The soldiers are not released by the date that I read in the newspaper on the airplane.
A week after I return home, Hezbollah returns the two sons after the controversial decision by the Israeli government. My family and I still had hope that they were alive, however the sad truth hit us all on July 16, 2008. Goldwasser z”l and Regev z”l had been dead all along. With this in mind came all the bashing of Ehud Olmert and the Israeli government. I for one, disagree with everyone who believes that the Israeli government made the wrong choice to return the two missing soldiers. What most people do not realize when they insult Olmert and state how he should not be in office, is that he is doing a huge mitzvah. As I learned in my Jewish studies this past year in school, when a fellow Jew is in captivity, it is an obligation to do everything we can to set them free. There is no “if” or “unless” in this law. It must be fulfilled no matter what the cost is. That is why Olmert and the Israeli government have made the right decision regarding the recent prisoner swap. That is why they need to do everything they can to free Gilad Schalit. That is my story.