A fish and a shark: a captured Israeli's fifth-grade parable
Supporters see hope in printing a tale in which enemies make peace.
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When asked about the possibility of Israel releasing prisoners directly involved in killings, Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio over the weekend, "We need to do everything to bring the troops back to the State of Israel."Skip to next paragraph
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Rimon and the others involved with the nonprofit hope that the children's book will propel some movement on the swap.
In Shalit's chance meeting between the shark and the fish, the two ocean dwellers abandon the roles of hunter and hunted in favor of hide and seek. But when their mothers are told about the new companionship, they reproach the children and forbid further meetings.
After a year of obeying, the two meet again, and the shark comes with a suggestion: "You are my enemy, but perhaps we can make up?" Ultimately, the parents are made to accept the friendship, and "from that day on, the sharks and the fish live in peace."
The book's illustrations are the works of members of the Israeli Illustrators' Association and were initially commissioned for an exhibition at Rimon's gallery. At the end of the month, the art exhibit is scheduled to move to other cities in Israel.
"The story looked so current and also so naive. It's a utopia that we wish could happen, and especially in the Middle East we wish we could have friendship," said Noga Schimmel, the chair of the illustrators association. "It's an optimistic message because we hope Gilad will come back. It's got to be positive, we want a positive end."
Shalit's father, Noam, volunteered that neither he nor his wife Aviva remembered the story. He said the couple was surprised at the discovery because their son took more of an interest in math and science. The parents checked with children's literature experts to see if the story was cribbed from somewhere else, but they responded that they could not find anything similar.
The elder Shalit has criticized the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for missing opportunities to secure his son's release and has even taken unconventional steps like making an appeal through the Palestinian press and speaking by telephone to Hamas spokespeople in the Gaza Strip.
"The story highlights another element in the personality of Gilad," he says. "We don't have any hopes that it will advance his release, but maybe the message will be picked up on the other side."
The story already has an Arabic translation, and the project sponsors said that eventually they'd like to find a way to publish and distribute the book in the West Bank and Gaza.
"I was very moved by the story.... There is pain on both sides. It's important that it should be read in the place where he was kidnapped," says Maha Sweid, an Israeli Arab who translated the story into Arabic.