Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee
Petition for Israeli MIAs presented in Parliament

Petition for Israeli MIAs presented in Parliament


By DIANE KOVEN, Ottawa Correspondent

Thursday, 26 June 2008

OTTAWA — As reports surfaced that some of Israel’s captured soldiers will soon be released in a prisoner exchange with the Palestinians, a petition was presented to Parliament last week asking that Canada help free them and others being held by radical Islamic groups.

Pictured, front, are petition organizer Renanah Goldhar of Toronto and Senator Mira Spivak, and, back from left, Aaron Posluns; Paul Merkley of the International Christian Embassy; Jack Silverstone; MP James Lunney; Orit Kremer from the Israeli Embassy; Elizabeth Cheesbrough, executive assistant to MP Joe Volpe; MP Bev Shipley; MP David Sweet; and Michael Mendel and Noah Kochman of the Israeli Embassy.

B.C. MP James Lunney stood in the House of Commons on June 17 to present petitions with nearly 10,000 signatures calling on Parliament to use "all reasonable means, including the application of economic sanctions and the severing of diplomatic ties with the governments of Lebanon, Syria and Iran, in order to bring about the return of Israel’s missing soldiers."

The petitions – on behalf of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, Gilad Schalit, Guy Hever, Ron Arad, Zachary Baumel, Yehuda Katz, Tzvi Feldman and Majdy Halabi, as well as and on behalf of Eli Cohen, who was hanged in Syria more than 30 years ago and whose remains were never returned – were delivered to Lunney by Renanah Goldhar who, along with other volunteers in Toronto, collected the signatures. Goldhar has been involved for a number of years with helping the families of Israel’s missing soldiers.

Following the presentation to Parliament, Goldhar and a number of MPs met with Lunney to discuss the issue of the missing soldiers and Canada’s role in helping to free them. Goldhar read an e-mail from Goldwasser’s mother that she had hoped to share with all MPs.

"You came here, today, to show your support for three innocent Israeli soldiers kidnapped by the Hezbollah and the Hamas. However, your being here today has a wider moral meaning: in coming here today you are warning the world about the infiltration of Islamic fundamentalism and its dangerous groups, which already operate and live among your communities," Goldwasser’s mother said in her e-mail.

Goldhar distributed bookmarks with the pictures of nine missing Israeli soldiers, which she said would also be given to all members of the Canada-Israel Parliamentary Friendship group.

Ontario MP David Sweet said, "We have great compassion. We are great friends. Anything we can do to help, we will."

Lunney added: "Sadly, the people we are dealing with are not known for their good care of prisoners… it would be wonderful, it would be miraculous, to have some of the boys returned to their families."

Orit Kremer, a consul at the Israeli embassy, thanked Goldhar on behalf of the Israeli government and emphasized that "we are doing things all the time to try to get the boys back."