Friday, 3 September 2010

Conference of Presidents launches solidarity campaign

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has launched a national campaign on behalf of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in 2006 and held incommunicado since. A central feature of the mobilization is a new web site,, which will provide people across the United States, in Israel and around the world, a vehicle to express their solidarity with Gilad, who marked his 24th birthday on August 28th and his fifth in captivity. The site also is a means to urge continued efforts by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to press Hamas to allow the ICRC to visit Gilad to ascertain his conditions of detention and treatment in compliance with international law.

Individuals can submit a birthday or Jewish New Year greeting to Gilad directly through the web site or they can mail a personal card to the Conference of Presidents, which will deliver all the cards and greetings to the ICRC to be transferred to Gilad, who has been held in total isolation since he was kidnapped across Israel’s border. also features an original moving video and song about Gilad’s plight. The site also has background information, a special message from Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, links to Congressional resolutions on Gilad’s behalf and other items.

As part of the initiative, a 30-second video ad will be shown four times per hour daily between August 30th and September 5th on the hi-def digital billboard on the W Hotel at 47th Street in Times Square. Individuals can call the toll-free number 888-866-9697 to listen to an excerpt of the song that accompanies the video.

Tens of thousands of people across the United States, in Israel and around the world are expected to visit and to send electronic as well as printed messages to Gilad. “The Conference of Presidents will demand that Hamas allow the ICRC to deliver the messages to Gilad in accordance with international law,” said Conference of Presidents Chairman Alan P. Solow and Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein. “The cards also call attention to the fact that Hamas has refused repeated requests to allow the exchange of Red Cross messages between Gilad Shalit and his family. Many organizations have responded to the call and are reaching out to their members and affiliates to participate,” they added.

“We appreciate and thank anyone who is willing to help our son Gilad and call for his immediate release,” said Noam Shalit.

Printed greetings can be sent to Gilad in care of the Conference of Presidents, 633 Third Ave., 21st Floor, New York, NY 10017. Cards also may be dropped off in specially-designated mailboxes at participating JCCs around the country, or at various Magen David Adom locations in Israel. A list of participating JCCs can be obtained from the Conference of Presidents. Each location will post a photo of Gilad and tell his story, further raising public awareness of his plight.

The electronic birthday greeting says, “We join with countless people of every faith and background in the U.S., Israel and around the world in marking your 24th birthday and recommitting ourselves to seek your freedom and reunification with your family.” The electronic Rosh Hashanah/New Year greeting says, “As Jews the world over gather to usher in the New Year, we reaffirm our commitment to you. The clarion call of the shofar reminds us of our obligations and responsibilities. We will raise our voices and do everything possible to gain your freedom. We pray that the New Year 5771 will see you reunited safely with your family and people in Israel.”

“As we approach Rosh Hashanah, let us remember our responsibility to raise our voices and do everything possible to gain Gilad’s freedom, and to offer strength to his family until they are reunited with their son and brother,” said Solow and Hoenlein.

The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern.

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