Groups assess effectiveness of campaigns to free Goldwasser, Regev

World Jewish groups question whether or not rallies, campaigns, support networks were effective.

In the two years since the killing of Israeli soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, worldwide rallies, massive campaigns and a slew of virtual support networks have continuously been springing up around the globe. But with the soldiers' bodies now back in Israel - with mixed feelings surrounding the terms of the exchange with Hizbullah - the question of how effective these international efforts have been is being assessed. The South African Zionist Federation (SAZF) had been involved with organizing rallies in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban over the last two years. Jonathan Silke, National President of the SAZF, told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday "I think it [the campaign supporting the abducted soldiers] has been a very strong unifying force for our community." "I think we have shown the issues to the greater public. I don't say we have everybody's full understanding of Israel's predicament, but certainly we have brought it to the attention of a wide public." "I certainly think that the combined effect of the efforts of [the] Jewish community around the world, standing with Israel at this difficult time, have helped to make that effort be realized. But, of course, we are really disappointed that the soldiers were no longer alive," he added. The United French Jewish Social Fund (UFJSF) had helped mobilize support for the soldiers' return through demonstrations in both Paris and Brussels. "The most important [thing] for us during our demonstration was to mobilize people," Pierre Besnainou, President of the UFJSF and United Jewish Appeal, told the Post Wednesday. "But how can we estimate the result of our mobilization? It is very hard to say [how effective the demonstrations were]." Amos Hermon, chairman of the Jewish Agency's education committee, said: "We believe that on the issue of the propaganda battle... that this was not a total loss. I believe that this is one of the campaigns where we proved that if things are done properly, professionally and with the cooperation of all the Jewish committees, we can run a good campaign. "I cannot put a finger on what kinds of things caused Hizbullah to agree, but we believe that the international push after the visits of the family, after all the campaigns, demonstrations [and] petitions, brought an end to the situation."