When Merav Ron Perlstein sent her son Roey off to the army 17 years ago, she was
certain the government would rescue him if he were kidnapped while in
Now, in light of the state’s failure to return captive soldier
Gilad Schalit, she said she has sadly come to believe that the state would
prefer its soldiers to die in battle.
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“Israel likes soldiers who come
back dead,” said Perlstein.
She was one of a small group of women, who in
a rally organized by Mothers for Gilad, stood outside the Israeli Presidential
Conference in the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Thursday,
shouting, “Rescue Gilad,” just as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was
Women who had manned the Jerusalem protest tent located outside
the prime minister’s office formed the group last November. Since then, it has
organized seven gatherings and demonstrations.
Perlstein, a Jerusalem
resident and founding member, said she became active on Gilad’s behalf last
year, after his parents marched to Jerusalem from their Mitzpe Hila home in the
On Thursday evening, she stood at the rally with yellow
ribbons around her neck. She held a sign that said, “Bibi, Forgive me for
Since June 26, 2006, when Gilad was kidnapped as he patrolled
Israel’s southern border, the country has changed, Perlstein
“Before, it was clear that everything would be done to free a
captive soldier,” she said.
Gilad’s kidnapping showed that this was not
true, and that the country had learned nothing from its delay in making a deal
to free kidnaped airman Ron Arad, who disappeared in Lebanon in 1988.” The
notion that the government is creating a situation where this could happen again
has created a crisis in the very values that form the basis of the country, she
“The nation will survive only if it preserves its ideals,” she
Recently, she told her son Roey that if Gilad was not freed, he
should consider not sending his three sons to the army when they turned
Leora Rivobsky, of Even Yehuda, said that she would send her son to
the army when the time came, “because I live in this country.”
said, as a mother, she believed that it was important to do everything to ensure
Gilad’s return. She was rallying on his behalf, she said, so her children would
understand that the ethics of communal responsibility and not leaving a soldier
on the battlefield were still important values.
As she spoke, a bus
stopped behind the protesters and a group of soldiers disembarked.
the mothers, Naomi Betser, went over to some of the soldiers and told them, “We
are doing this for you.”
The feeling of frustration about Gilad’s
continued captivity is so high, Betser said, that in some extremist moments,
they have considered an initiative to give suicide pills to soldiers just in
case they are kidnapped.
“We believe that men in governmental positions
are not doing enough,” said Betser, who traveled from the Galilee to Jerusalem
just for the rally.
“We want to shout and scream at the terrible thing
that is happening to one of our sons. The price for not freeing Gilad is much
larger than the price of freeing thousands of terrorists [in exchange],” she
“We are standing here at this important gathering to tell Peres and
Bibi that they need to take the courageous step of freeing Gilad. There is an
expression which says that he who dares is the one who wins.”
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