‘Every note we play is going to Gilad’

Philharmonic, Shlomo Artzi play the Gaza border for abducted soldier.

Philhamonic for Gilad Schalit 311 (photo credit: Tova Lazaroff)
Philhamonic for Gilad Schalit 311
(photo credit: Tova Lazaroff)
The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra filled the air on the Gaza border with music on Monday evening, as it played outdoors for a man who could not hear them – captive soldier Gilad Schalit.
“Every note that we play today is going toward him,” said renowned conductor Zubin Mehta, who conducted the hourlong performance called “A Cry to the World” in the Eshkol National Park. More than 8,000 people came.
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“We on stage need a receiver.Today, he is our receiver,” Mehta said on the Gaza border. “I hope that one day very soon he will know about this concert. We pray that tonight’s music will inspire people on the other side.”
The idea for a concert of this kind, he said, was born six months ago with a member of the orchestra, clarinetist Shelly Davis, and was supported by the other mothers in the group who wanted to play for Schalit, Mehta said. It featured an original piece written about the soldier as well as a performance by folk rock singer-songwriter Shlomo Artzi.
The event took place on the eighth day of an 11-day trek Schalit’s parents, Aviva and Noam, are making from their Mitzpe Hila home in the Upper Galilee to Jerusalem, where they plan to sit in a protest tent outside Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s official residence until their son is freed.
On Monday afternoon, the Schalits took a break from their march and traveled by car to the spot close to Kerem Shalom on the Gaza border where Gilad was kidnapped on June 25, 2006. They then headed to the concert close by.
Before the performance, Mehta spoke with Noam Schalit. He placed his hands on Noam’s shoulders and said, “You will get your life back.”
Later, as he looked out at the audience before the performance, Mehta said, “This concert comes from the heart of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.”
As he called for Gilad Schalit’s release, Mehta said, “I can not help but think of the hundreds of Palestinian mothers who although their sons are not in the same position, they as mothers are also suffering.”
The difference between the Palestinian prisoners and Gilad, is that they get visitors, whereas no one has seen Schalit, not even the Red Cross, Mehta said.
Artzi said that he, too, urged the government not to abandon Schalit. The Israeli public had a red line that could not be crossed, and that was its heart, he said.
Noam Schalit said that the release of “1,001 prisoners, 1,000 Palestinians and one Israeli [Gilad], is a humanitarian activity of the highest order.” His son, he said, was held in a Hamas basement in Gaza only a few kilometers from the Eshkol Park. “Do not forget Gilad, who is waiting for us and screaming to us from the depth of the darkness that separates him from his family, friends and the rest of the world,” he said.
Noam Schalit called on the international community to pressure Hamas to release Gilad, exactly as it had pushed Israel to ease the closure on Gaza’s borders.
Just as Israel has been asked to make humanitarian gestures, Hamas should make a humanitarian gesture for my son, Noam said.
Those at the concert included Kadima MKs Shaul Mofaz and Meir Sheetrit and Government Services Minister Michael Eitan (Likud).
German Ambassador Harold Kindermann, who also traveled to the concert, told The Jerusalem Post that “Gilad is close to our hearts.” The ambassador he and his wife “wanted to show a personal sign of solidarity” with the young man.
Earlier in Tel Aviv, Noam Schalit addressed the thousands who rallied on Gilad’s behalf in Rabin Square.
“Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak – we put our faith in you. You know better than anyone that what matters is not the talks, not the explanations, not the press conferences – what matters is the outcome,” Schalit said.
“Hundreds and thousands of citizens who support us are not wrong,” he said.
Earlier, marchers went to Barak’s north Tel Aviv home and met with his wife, Nili Priel, who later walked with them for one section of the march.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report