A. Since I started this operation, I have encountered many people around the world who are willing to reach out and offer any help they can. I have also received emails from people thanking me for this service, and telling me it has inspired them to make a change in their lives and in the way they interact with their surroundings.
It’s no secret I have aspirations to take this operation forward, and see what we (myself, the Kotel Team of volunteers, and you – the followers) can can do to benefit society and the people around us in some way. If you take a lot of small changes, or even random acts of kindness, then they have a big effect combined. More on this in another time, though. Right now I’m just trying to find a way to keep my head above water.
B. Some of you have asked what does the “Waiting for Gilad” image on @TheKotel‘s Twitter page mean.
Gilad is a young man that every Jewish family in Israel thinks of as its own son. Serving in the Israeli Defence Force is mandatory for all citizens, and Gilad had the misfortune to serve near the Gaza strip border. For over three years now he is held captive by terrorist, with no connection to the outside world.
C. One of the people I’ve met online as I ran this service was Melissa Jane. Melissa is organizing a special Twitter event to take place on the 26th of August, and asked to be featured in this website. We agreed she’ll be a guest writer, and in the text I bring below Melissa introduces herself and the event she’s organizing. Please read and take part.
After having finished my Master’s Degree in June at New York University’s Center For Global Affairs and having taken a sabbatical from the world of politics and journalism (and more generally, the workforce), I made my second trip to Israel. It has been ten years since I had the opportunity to visit the Holy Land, and I was moved most by the young men and women my age, both those individuals in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and those who had recently completed their service, and how important the story of Gilad Shalit was to them. Wherever I went I heard his name, young adults cheered to him and his memory while having beers at the bar on Saturday night, he inspired others musically, and I listened to a young singer/songwriter’s song about Shalit (aptly named “Chasing Clouds”) while he strummed gently away on his guitar.
Shalit, whose birthday is coming up in August, is a young IDF soldier captured by HAMAS in 2006. As far as we know, Shalit is still alive, and his parents have worked tirelessly for over three years advocating for his release before leaders from across the spectrum and around the world (including my hometown Mayor Michael Bloomberg and more recently the Pope).
I was fairly new to Twitter – I had used it in my duties writing for the New York Post – but hadn’t done anything in terms of creating my own account and using it for more own purposes. When I got home from Israel, I took two radical steps. I got a Star of David tattooed on my left wrist in solidarity with Shalit then I began a campaign to “Tweet4Shalit” in hopes of spreading information about his story, highlighting news that mentioned his case and getting “#GiladShalit” to ‘trend’ on Twitter so that people would Google him to find out who he was and why exactly he was trending.
I don’t believe that my actions will help bring home Giald, but what I am sure of is that what I am doing is making more people aware of Gilad Shalit’s plight – mainly that he is being held by terrorists and not even the Red Cross (a mainstay of international law) is allowed to see him. By raising global consciousness about the story of Gilad Shalit, the hope is to contribute to the groundswell of local, national and international outrage and increase the level of pressure on those authorities that have the ability to do something about it.
I too have met some amazing people online. First among them is David Appletree (@JIDF) who operates the Jewish Internet Defense Force (http://www.thejidf.org), an organization that seeks to fight anti-Semitism online. David and I met on Twitter and are planning some pretty exciting things. Our first mission: on Shalit’s August 28th birthday, David and I hope to activate the online community to make Shalit trend on Twitter for the first time, both in honor of him turning twenty-three years young and spending now three years in captivity. We invite everyone, everywhere to spread the word about ‘Tweet4Shalit’ and join us on Twitter, all day (and all night) on August 26th, 2009. Tweet about Shalit and use the hashtag “#GiladShalit”.
Tweet4Shalit on Facebook.
More information on the JIDF website.
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