gilad schalit animated film 311.
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Those marching for Gilad Schalit’s freedom will be passing the Gan Sakharov
entrance to Jerusalem on Thursday. In the 1950s, Andrei Sakharov was awarded the
Stalin Prize for his theoretical work on the hydrogen bomb. Appalled by
the dangers of nuclear arms race and the heavy-handedness of the Soviet regime,
he became a dissident devoted to human rights. He and his wife Elena Bonner were
later exiled to Siberia. To show support for Sakharov, the Nobel Committee
awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975.
In the spring of 2009, Bonner
had this to say about Schalit in a speech she gave to the Nobel Committee,
reprinted in this newspaper.
“Here is a question that has been a thorn
for me for a long time. It’s a question for my human rights colleagues. Why
doesn’t the fate of the Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit trouble you in the same
way as does the fate of the Guantanamo prisoners?...
“... during the two
years Schalit has been held by terrorists, the world human rights community has
done nothing for his release. Why? He is a wounded soldier, and fully falls
under the protection of the Geneva Conventions. The conventions say
clearly that hostage-taking is prohibited, that representatives of the Red Cross
must be allowed to see prisoners of war, especially wounded prisoners, and there
is much else written in the Geneva Conventions about Schalit’s rights. The fact
that representatives of the Quartet conduct negotiations with the people who are
holding Schalit in an unknown location, in unknown conditions, vividly
demonstrates their scorn of international rights documents and their total legal
nihilism. Do human rights activists also fail to recall the fundamental
international rights documents?”
WHAT MORE powerful message can there be on
behalf of Gilad Schalit than these words. Yet, this message has hardly been
heard, not acted upon and not delivered to the addressees with the power to help
him. The international community’s designated representatives for carrying the
banner of international law have been timid bystanders to this crime against
We call on the marchers to take their banners to the offices of
UNRWA, Tony Blair’s Quartet, the International Red Cross, the World Health
Organization and many European based NGOs aiding Gaza. The addresses which
should be the target of their protests should be the embassies of the US, Great
Britain, Norway and Sweden (the Nobel countries) and the EU. The protesters
should set up vigils and sit-ins outside these offices, and organize parallel
vigils in Washington outside the White House, the State Department and in
London, Brussels, and all the other places where the opinion formers
meet. The protesters should be demanding that Hamas’s leaders be put on
trial for crimes against humanity for their treatment of Gilad. Even NGOs
considered hostile to Israel (e.g. Amnesty, Human Rights Watch) are
unanimous on the case for such action.
This is the time to hold the most
recent winner of the Nobel Prize, Barack Obama, accountable, for acting on
Bonner’s words. Sakharov was a lonely prisoner of conscience exiled to a
small cabin in Siberia when the Nobel Committee recognized him for protesting
repression. Obama is the leader of the world’s most powerful democracy
and is sitting in the White House. Sakharov helped bring freedom to the
world. The jury is still out on Obama. It is up to him to lead the way to
freeing Gilad. By doing so, he will protect the rights of all captives of terror
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Back in Sakharov’s time, Western governments
listened to several resolute individuals, notably Sakharov himself,
Sen. Henry Jackson, and the world stood up to threats posed by Soviet
tyranny, repression and mischief making. Sakharov called for the adoption of the
Jackson Amendment. The Soviets, desperate for Western technology, accepted the
accords. The emigration triggered by Helsinki Accords started the ball rolling
toward the loosening up and eventual break-up of the Soviet system in the
Today, we see the leaders of the same Western countries cringing
to curry favor with a regime led by genocidal terrorists. These terrorists are
far less potent than the former Soviet Union, but the West has lost the resolve
it had back then.
The free world needs to condition aid to Gaza on
granting freedom to Gilad.
The fact that it does not do so is a disgrace.
The fact that those shaping Israeli public opinion choose to pressure the
Israeli government, and not those with the power to hold Hamas accountable for
this crime against humanity, is an ever bigger disgrace.
IN 2009, one of
us submitted Bonner’s powerful statement to Judge Richard Goldstone
proceedings of his investigation commission. He ignored these comments.
His silence, was an accurate indicator of the free world’s
Now is the time to hold the world community
for its responsibility to protect Gilad Schalit and give him the rights
by persons imprisoned in Guantanamo, for carrying out an act of
which resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 civilians. Bonner’s
We say: March on the embassies of the free world, not
Minister’s Office to free Gilad.
Now is the time for our prime
to remind the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize, Barack Obama, of
words of the wife of one the greatest recipients, Andrei Sakharov.Zelda
Harris was one of the leaders in the fight for Soviet Jewry and the
Metuna, an organization for prevention road deaths. Prof. Elihu D.
Richter is a physician and Head of the Genocide Prevention Program at
University-Hadassah School of Public Health and Community Medicine.
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