Gilad Shalit, a 24-year-old Israeli, has been languishing in captivity for over four years, held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza. Contrary to international law, Gilad has been denied all visits, including from organisations such as the Red Cross.
There is a solidarity vigil for Gilad this week. It will be held on Thursday, 24th February between 18:00-19:30hrs outside the Red Cross offices in Moorgate (44 Moorfields, London EC2Y 9AL).
I’d like to share an extra perspective (beyond the obvious) on why initiatives like the above are important. Last summer I spent several days on a vigil for Gilad held opposite Downing Street. I was pleasantly surprised at how supportive and sympathetic passers-by were as we informed them of Gilad’s plight. Several of those we spoke with went through palpable positive paradigm shifts in their perception of Israel as a result of learning about Gilad.
That would have been enough, as they say. But the benefits didn’t stop there.
When I met Gilad’s father Noam in Israel the following month, he was cheered by the photographs of the London vigil I showed him, and the stories I told him about the support we generated. It was a privilege to be able to share something positive with him. Then, when I lobbied my local MP about Gilad’s plight, because I could draw on real-life experiences from the vigil, and from meeting Noam, I put my case all the more effectively. My MP has become a supporter of Gilad’s plight.