kidnapped troops 88.
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The Public Campaign for the Release of the Kidnapped Soldiers is drafting Israel's student unions into the ongoing struggle to keep the fates of the kidnapped soldiers on the political agenda and in the public mind, both in Israel and abroad.
On Wednesday, the National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS), the largest of Israel's student unions, announced it would join the efforts of the Public Campaign.
"This [initiative] will allow us to reach students, a very large group in this country," Public Campaign head Miki Leibowich told The Jerusalem Post. The move is part of the campaign's effort "to reach as many members of the public as possible," he explained.
Among the planned projects, Leibowich added, was an "identification rally for the kidnapped soldiers" that would be held on all the campuses in the country on the first day of the upcoming academic year.
"This is a major action [unlike anything] the student unions have ever done," he emphasized, adding that it would mark "the first time all the unions joined together on an issue that isn't directly connected to student interests."
According to NUIS chairman Itay Shonshein, the union joined the campaign for a simple reason.
"We just believe the boys have to be returned home," he told the Post. "As representatives of 250,000 young people, it's important to us that these boys come home." Uniting student organizations from 32 different college and university campuses around the country, the NUIS, with its long experience in grassroots activism, has already begun mobilizing on behalf of the Public Campaign.
"We're getting together a petition to the prime minister," Shonshein said, and added they are also "planning identification rallies on all union campuses, putting signs up in the campuses and banners on our Web sites." Shonshein also said he plans to "write letters to student unions worldwide asking them to join the effort."
The Public Campaign is an apolitical non-profit organization, composed mainly of friends of kidnapped IDF soldiers Gilad Shalit, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, that works to pressure Israeli and international decision-makers to work for the soldiers' release.
In addition to its ongoing activities in Israel, the campaign works with European states and American Jewish organizations. The campaign was an active participant in last week's demonstration by the American Jewish community outside the United Nations.