Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told thousands of Birthright participants Tuesday night that Israel will bring home Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, the three youths who were kidnapped the night of June 12 in the West Bank.
“We will not rest until we find those boys and bring them home,” the prime minister said at the Caesarea amphitheater, the site of the 2014 Birthright Summer Mega-event. “We will also find their kidnappers.”
Netanyahu welcomed the Birthright participants, saying: “This is your homeland.
There is a force within our people that has allowed us to turn our country into an amazing success story.”
Birthright-Israel provides free trips to Israel for young Jews from around the world, the goal being to better acquaint them with the Jewish state by seeing it with their own eyes.
Numerous prominent figures, including Olympic medalist Yael Arad and American politician and TV personality Mike Huckabee, sat in the audience. At one point in his remarks, Netanyahu referred to Huckabee as a “strong friend of Israel.”
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire philanthropist who had been instrumental in funding Birthright, also spoke and urged the crowd to become more active in their promotion of Israel to the world.
“Most countries only get one ambassador,” Adelson said. “There are 4,000 of you here tonight.”
Birthright participant Jordan Gladstone, from Houston, Texas, said he was excited to learn about the traditions of the country, but also about new advances in technology that Israeli has forged in recent years.
“It’s good to experience the history as well as the modern-day innovation,” he said.
Another participant, University of Vermont student Lina Freed, spoke about the importance of the program.
“It’s all about getting in touch with our roots,” she said. “We’re all Jewish in our hearts.”