It is with the heaviest of hearts that I write to you today, a day after Ehud Goldwasser z”l and Eldad Regev z”l were returned to Israel.
Those that were not watching the live feeds from Israeli news stations yesterday were spared the confirmation that the two were not alive when Hezbollah terrorists placed their black coffins down on the ground and handed them over to the Red Cross. I am not sure I will ever forget how I felt when I turned to the screen and saw the two boxes just lying side by side, as if their lives meant nothing to these people. And in the background – Hezbollah flags and Lebanese flags flying high, the country preparing a hero’s welcome for the return of murderer Samir Kuntar and four other terrorists.
I do not want this email to be entirely about newspaper articles and reports. However, I will direct you to a few articles from our local press and the Israeli press:
Israeli coffins return in swap deal – The Australian
High price to pay for this exchange – The Australian
Prisoner deal that had to be done – By Dor Shapira in the Opinion section of the Australian
Grief and joy as bodies, men returned home – The Age
Lebanon celebrates release of prisoners from Israel – The Herald Sun online (please note, the print edition contained a similar article to the Australian as well as a small inset entitled ‘Why they hate Samir Kuntar’ – the only paper that seems to have gone into any real detail about Kuntar’s barbaric crimes)
‘We cut out newspapers to show you when you returned’ – Haaretz
Goldwasser and Regev were killed in the initial attack – Jpost
And a must read Editorial: A searing contrast – Jpost
Please click here to see an educational program put together by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the World Zionist Organisation
The State Zionist Council of Victoria will issue a Press Release later today accompanied by a reflective Op-Ed piece on the contrasting aspects of the exchange.
The families of the boys, the Israeli public and people all over the world have prayed for their return. But none of us imagined that once closure arrived, there would still be no sense of relief. On one level, both families will now have a chance to properly grieve for their sons – to give them the respect they deserve by giving them a proper burial. But the injustice done to the boys and the outright cruelty that their families were subjected to for two years and right up until the final second before the coffins were laid out, should be highlighted by the free world.
It is a black day in history for anyone that believes in freedom and justice to see mass celebrations for convicted terrorists on one side of the border and grief and sorrow on the other for two boys held against their will.
On a personal level, on 16 July 2006 following a “Blue Ribbon” Rally held by the State Zionist Council of Victoria, my father and I tied a big blue ribbon around a tree at the front of our house. We wanted it there as a constant reminder for ourselves and those that passed by our house, that while we were sitting at home free, Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev and Gilad Shalit were being held somewhere against their will, denied even the most basic human rights. We vowed that the ribbon would only come down when Ehud, Eldad and Gilad were returned home. As I passed by the tree this morning, my heart broke. The blue ribbon has now faded to a dirty and dishevelled grey – a reminder of how the seasons have come and gone and the three boys remained in captivity. Sadly, we are now two steps closer to taking the ribbon down, but it is certainly not in the way we had imagined two years ago.
May the memories of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev be blessed.
State Zionist Council of Victoria