Archived entries for Gilad Shalit

War Stories

Two new pieces today, for France 24. One is a short collaborative article, with a paragraph quoting me (via phone). If you read French, it’s the piece on Gilad Shalit, featured in the lower left hand corner of the screenshot above.

The second is a long form editorial, about a controversial home video of Israeli troops dancing to the tune of Kesha‘s amusing “Tik Tok”, in Hebron. See the photo on the top right. Both articles are in EnglishFrench, and Arabic.

Life in Captivity

A poster child for those seeking to demonstrate the Israeli government’s failings to properly look after its citizenry, or a prisoner of the larger Arab-Israeli conflict, the figure of Gilad Shalit has come to symbolize almost every conceivable kind of victimization Israelis suffer from.  So ubiquitous has his image become, both in Israel and in the Diaspora, Shalit’s captivity has been used as though it were a reminder to Jewry that it is collectively hostage, and that everything is, as usual, threatening to spin out of its control.

Pity the parents of POWs like Shalit, who have to contend with the uses of their children for such ends. Granted, Noam Shalit (pictured here) has put himself in the public eye for longer than anyone can remember, in order to get the government to secure the release of Gilad. Yet, the defacement of Shalit here, in this Tel Aviv phone booth – eyes crossed out, the word “Inspire”, in English, scrawled on his mouth – suggest a weariness with how Noam’s image, as an anxious father, has been put to as many partisan uses as his son.

King George Street, 5/5/09.

The C in Schalit


Is it SH or SCH? Covering the ongoing case of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit (pictured above) in today’s New York Times, Isabel Kershner drops the C most commonly used in the spelling of his surname. As I kindly responded to a journalist friend who’d interviewed me last April (and had mispelled my last name in the same way in a recently published article), in Hebrew, there is no C in SCHALIT.

The SH sound is made by the letter SHIN. The C is a culturally Ashkenazi (specifically German) addition to the name’s spelling.  A non-standard Hebrew surname ( derived from the word shlita, or ruler,) the C is frequently added to Schalit when it is written in the Latin alphabet. Thus, one may determine from this where the family that uses the name originally came from: central or eastern Europe.

According to my father, the Schalit side of Gilad’s family is from Poland. Though he initially suspected that the name was adopted in Israel, apparently Schalit’s uncle told Elie that the family name precedes immigration. Our family has also called itself Schalit for as long as anyone remembers. Though we originally hail from Italy, records show that our surname has almost always indulged the Ashkenazi C.

I, for one, have always felt plagued by the name. Not because I don’t like it, but because of how often it’s mispronounced by Americans. Frequently prone to enunciating it phonetically, (for example, SHALL-IT instead of SHAH-LEET) the one benefit of its media repetition (unfortunately, due to the Gilad Schalit case) has been that, on CNN and the BBC, reporters have almost always pronounced it the way Israelis do.

So, living in the US, for the first time, when I meet new people, they now tend to say my last name the right way. And, sadly, nearly always ask me if I am indeed related to the missing Israeli soldier. The answer, as I am wont to say, is no, but that our shared surname brings his family’s pain much closer to home. Big up to the Galil Schalits, with the hope that their son will be returned soon.


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