A fish and a shark: a captured Israeli's fifth-grade parable
Supporters see hope in printing a tale in which enemies make peace.
A shark, a fish, and an unexpected discovery are about to add a new title to the vast literature on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Skip to next paragraph
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"When the Shark and the Fish First Met" is an unlikely addition to the canon – written as it was by a fifth-grader little intent on turning his deep-sea characters into metaphors for the crisis.
But nine years after he penned the tale, its author, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, has gained international attention. Captured by Hamas 18 months ago, he has become something of a pawn in negotiations over a prisoner swap between the militant group and the Israeli government.
Israeli proponents for a deal hope printing Corporal Shalit's grade-school story will keep pressure up for a deal – and serve as a message for peace.
"In the heart of the Pacific Ocean swam a small and gentle fish. Suddenly, the fish saw a shark who wanted to devour him," begins the story that was found by his old teacher during a spring cleaning.
Now, a collection of illustrations that alternate between the ominous and the humorous have been commissioned to accompany the story, which will be published this week.
She hatched the idea of the book with other volunteers from a nonprofit dedicated to freeing Shalit and two other soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were abducted by Hizbullah militants two weeks later in July 2006.
At the gallery over the weekend, a circle of preschoolers played the role of the ocean by blowing bubbles and waving blue and green streamers, while a pair of first-graders enacted the story of how two ocean adversaries become friends.
And when Ms. Rimon asked the kids to raise their hands if they ever felt scared like the small fish or destructive like the predatory shark, there were volunteers on both counts.
"What Gilad saw, as a kid, without understanding, is that in all of us there is a little bit of the shark and a little bit of the fish," says Rimon. "We are liable to think that Gilad is the fish and they are the sharks. But from their perspective, Gilad is the shark."
Egypt has mediated intermittent negotiations between Israel and Hamas on a prisoner swap for Shalit's release during the 18 months since his capture. Just recently, Israel convened a discussion on relaxing criteria to release prisoners, a sign of incremental progress.
The Israeli daily newspaper Maariv on Sunday reported that Israeli negotiators are mulling the release of Marwan Barghouti, a popular Fatah politician and militant leader sentenced to five life terms on murder charges.