German Jews call on their gov’t to help free Schalit

Head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews appeals to EU, German government to work in much stronger fashion for soldier's release.

Gilad Schalit 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Gilad Schalit 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – The head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dr. Dieter Graumann, wrote an appeal on Tuesday to the international community for Gilad Schalit’s release in the mass circulation newspaper Bild, which reaches more than 12 million readers on a daily basis, making it Germany’s largest and most popular paper.
Under the headline, “Now let this young man free!” Graumann began his appeal with the words “Gilad Schalit: Happy Birthday.”
Schalit celebrated his 25th birthday on Sunday in the captivity of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Graumann wrote “on the occasion of this special day, we are calling for the German government and the European Union, as well as the United Nations, to commit themselves in a still much stronger fashion for the release of Gilad Schalit.”
He also urged the EU, the UN and the German government to combat the “unspeakably inhumane Hamas government and its terror activities.”
The president of Germany’s 105,000-member Jewish community added that “we hope very much that with the help of Germany’s mediation efforts Schalit would soon be home and be able to celebrate his next birthday in the circle of his loved ones.”
The German government has designated a Middle East intelligence officer to mediate an agreement with Hamas to win Schalit’s freedom in exchange for the release of Palestinian terrorists from Israeli prisons.
The intelligence officer, Gerhard Konrad, has encountered resistance from Hamas over the last few months. Veteran German reporter and Middle East expert Ulrich W. Sahm noted in a Saturday N-TV article that, according to well-informed sources, “Israel accepted the compromise recommendation of German mediator Gerhard Konrad while Hamas placed new demands. Hamas seeks the release of over a thousand Palestinian prisoners. On Hamas’s list are the names of the worst mass murderers of the Second Intifada. The new demands have led the efforts into a dead end.”
A separate Bild article on Tuesday quoted 31-year-old Melody Sucharewicz, who was born in Munich and made aliya at the age of 19. She said that “when I think about Gilad, I think not as a Jew, but rather as a humanist. Gilad is a steady companion in our hearts, in our thoughts, and that will remain until he is once again at home.”
Sucharewicz, who frequently appears in the German media, was the winner of the reality TV show HaShagrir (“The Ambassador”) in 2006 and served as a special ambassador for Israel from 2006 to 2007.