What role did the media play in Gilad’s release?

25 Oct

When news of Gilad Shalit’s release emerged, many of us questioned, will he be alive, and if so, what condition will he be in?  We sat at the edge of our seats hoping and praying for the best.  When that day finally arrived last week and Gilad Shalit was seen coming home, we all felt an enormous thrill.  The first TV images of his freedom somehow felt personal, prompting many of us to ask ourselves what we, the Jewish community at a global level, can do to give him a chance at a normal life and somehow undo all the suffering he endured.  Gilad’s fate for the past five years has been an ever constant present in our minds.  Many worried about the Israeli government’s lopsided deal with Hamas, while still taking great pride in its demonstration of the Jewish reverence for life.

Gilad Shalit became a symbol to millions in Israel and around the world.  So many knew his name and face and cared about his situation.  (Try thinking, for example, of the name of just one Palestinian prisoners released in exchange…)

Noam Shalit made one of the most important decisions early on in the saga to use PR as a major tool in the campaign to release his son.  This strategy to enlist the media in making Gilad a community cause was crucial in fighting for his son.  Gilad Shalit has been the shared story of Israel ever since he was kidnapped and taken hostage.  His story so powerfully emphasized “the power of one” in the minds of the public.

People all over the world were able to identify with Gilad Shalit as a real person with unique qualities and characteristics, not just another statistic whose name crossed the television set.

Do you think the use of the media helped or hindered Gilad’s release?  Or is it just about politics?

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