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Press Release – 30 June 2009

Sold-out audience at community solidarity evening marking Gilad Shalit’s 3rd year in Hamas captivity

June 25th marked 3 years exactly since Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas terrorists from Israel’s sovereign territory while serving his compulsory IDF service.

On Monday evening June 29, the community event to mark this sad anniversary was completely sold-out. The packed audience at the Classic Cinema in Elsternwick viewed Nomi Schori Ben-Natan’s poignant documentary about the plight of Gilad Shalit and his family. 

Once again, as has been the case since Gilad was captured 1,100 days ago, our community joined together in solidarity to make the statement that information on Gilad must be released immediately to his family and that he should be returned unharmed to Israel.

The documentary was followed by a panel discussion of varying perspectives: Israeli mother Dana Goren; the view from the IDF by young army commander Dori Meron and the Halachic perspective presented by Rabbi Ralph Genende.

Rabbi Genende commented that the film “…is a deeply moving documentary capturing the poignancy of his bereft family, the missed political opportunities and the complex moral dilemmas.”

“The issue becomes even more complex in a modern Jewish state. There is the heartbreaking dilemma of preserving the life of a soldier (and recognising this is the IDF’s raison d’être and that it maintains morale in a civilian army) versus the terrible cost of releasing terrorists with blood on their hands…Contemporary Halachists tend to favour no negotiation although there are many who argue a Jewish life is worth more than that of a thousand terrorists…” he said.

“Of course for Gilad’s family the moral arguments offer scant comfort and like any parent they just want their son back home. G-d himself must weep with them and wear a blue ribbon…”

Dana Goren told of how, as a child, she saw children in her class lose their fathers and brothers; as a soldier she experienced her mother’s fears and now, as a mother, her own thought about her children serving in the IDF have been present since their birth.

“I’m not original in my experiences” she said, ‘this is the collective Israeli experience”.

Blue ribbons were given out at the solidarity event; continuing the “blue ribbon” campaign initiated in the Melbourne community by the ZCV since Gilad was kidnapped on the fateful day of June 25, 2006.

“We will continue to wear a blue ribbon until Gilad Shalit comes home”, said Hagshama Coordinator Sha’ron Haviv and ZCV Executive Director Ginette Searle, organisers of the solidarity evening.

The solidarity evening was co-presented by Hagshama, the ZCV, Australian Friends of Hebrew University and JNF Victoria.
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Ginette Searle – Executive Director, Zionist Council of Victoria 9272 5544; 0412 251 343
The Zionist Council of Victoria leads and encourages Jewish and Zionist activity and expression within Victoria, to represent the Jewish community, to promote and communicate Israel’s interests within the broader Victorian community and to promote Victoria’s relationship with Israel. For more information, visit the Zionist Council of Victoria website