Gilad Shalit – Four Years in Captivity is Four Years too long
On June 25 2006 Israel soldier Gilad Shalit (then aged 19) was kidnapped at the Kerem Shalom crossing on Israeli territory by Hamas terrorists to Gaza, where he has been held captive ever since.
The International Committee of the Red Cross and various other humanitarian organizations have repeatedly been denied access to Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Gilad is being held captive against his will and in contravention to International Humanitarian Law.
As we mark four years since Gilad’s abduction, we hope that the Jewish Community of Melbourne, and indeed the Jewish Community worldwide, will continue to raise awareness of Gilad’s plight.
Following Gilad’s abduction in 2006, the Zionist Council of Victoria (ZCV), began the BLUE RIBBON CAMPAIGN in order to raise awareness for Gilad’s plight, as well as the plight of Ehud Goldwasser z”l and Eldad Regev z”l, whose bodies were returned in a prisoner exchanged with Hezbollah in 2008.
For four years the ZCV has actively promoted the BLUE RIBBON CAMPAIGN through rallies, movie screenings, online campaigns and other events to remind the community that we will not rest until Gilad is returned safely to his family. Gilad’s name and face has gone out on all email correspondence from the ZCV for four years, as well as the number of days he has been in captivity.
On Tuesday 22 June 2010 the ZCV stepped up this campaign by releasing hundreds of BLUE balloons into the air outside the Beth Weizmann Community Centre as a sign of hope for Gilad’s speedy return. Over 15 organisations from Beth Weizmann Community Centre were involved by wearing blue ribbons and holding up signs with Gilad’s picture on in it. Sam Salcman, Acting President of the ZCV, and Anita Bejarano, President of WIZO Victoria, addressed the crowd.
Blue ribbons and balloons will continue to be used as part of a campaign, in schools, shops and synagogues as a sign of solidarity in the lead up to this coming Shabbat – “Shabbat Shalit”. All affiliated synagogues have been sent the Hebrew text of a Prayer for the safe return of Gilad Shalit, and have been asked to include Gilad in their sermons.
The ZCV will also support any initiative put forward by AUJS and the Zionist Youth Movements. To this end, the ZCV together with VUPJ, WIZO, NCJWA, JNF and other communal organizations have lent their support to AUJS to facilitate the handing out of BLUE balloons and postcards on Friday to raise awareness around the community. The idea will be to have blue ribbons tied to the fences of as many homes in the area as possible to remind all those that pass by not to forget Gilad Shalit.
The ZCV together with the Zionist Councils in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia have set up a Facebook Event announcing the AUSTRALIA-wide campaign to raise awareness for Gilad’s plight through the BLUE RIBBON CAMPAIGN. Join the event here: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=131404423555591
The ZCV has sent a letter of congratulation to Zeddy Lawrence, editor of the Australian Jewish News, thanking him for the initiative to encourage readers to send a letter to the United Nations calling for Gilad’s immediate release. The ZCV also congratulates Mark Dreyfus MP, Member for Isaacs for his adjournment speech in parliament about Gilad Shalit yesterday, which can be found on page 97-98 here:
http://www.aph.gov.au/hansard/reps/latesthansard/rhansard.pdf. It should also be noted that the Zionist Federation of Australia and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry have penned a joint letter to Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith calling on the Australian Government to support the campaign to free Gilad.
It is now time to focus on the real crisis in Gaza; that Gilad Shalit has been held captive for four years and that this Shabbat especially we come together and stand united as we pray for his immediate release.
For more information contact:
Keren Smolarski, Project Coordinator, Zionist Council of Victoria – 9272 5519/ 0412 487 102
Emily Chrapot, Israel Advocacy Analyst, Zionist Council of Victoria – 9272 5507
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 www.zionismvictoria.org.au