The parents of slain Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin appealed to the international community at the United Nations last week to pressure Hamas to release their son’s body more than two years after he was killed in the Gaza war in 2014. A group of 10 Muslim-American leaders responded with a letter to Hamas leader Khalid Meshal asking him to fulfill their wishes.
“We support the struggle for Palestinian human rights and self-determination,” they wrote. “However, all struggles for justice must follow an ethical and moral code. As Muslims, we believe the struggle for justice must align with the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We are reminded of verse eight in Surah Ma’idah, which reads … ‘Do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness.’”
Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, said he created the coalition of Muslim leaders who sent the letter, which was written also in behalf of Oron Shaul, another Israeli soldier killed in Gaza whose body is also being held. Among those signing the letter were Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), the country’s two Muslim congressmen; M. Ali Chaudry, the former mayor of Basking Ridge, N,J., and Sayyid Syeed, director of interfaith alliances at the Islamic Society of North America.
Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha, thanked the rabbi and Muslim leaders during brief remarks Sunday night at the national conference of the Israeli-American Council in Washington.
In an interview here last week, Leah Goldin told The Jewish Week that they had come to the U.N. both to press diplomats for their son’s release and to see an exhibition of his paintings at the U.N.
“He was a victim of an international ceasefire rather than of war,” she said, explaining that he was killed August 1, 2014, two hours after the ceasefire took effect. “Bringing a Jewish boy to burial is a very basic humanitarian value. We are conveying that message to the international community because we would like their support to convince Hamas to release the two bodies it is holding.”
With the help of the Israeli Mission to the United Nations, Goldin said she and her husband met with various European ambassadors to ask their help.
“Everyone was in solidarity with us and agreed it is wrong to hold their bodies,” she said. “They agreed that refusing to return the bodies for proper burial according to our tradition is against human rights. The question now is how each country can help.”
Goldin said she and her husband would like to see European countries use the “leverage” they have with Hamas to pressure it to release the bodies. Their leverage comes from the building supplies and other material they send Hamas.
“If we manage to link ourselves to this kind of upgrade [of Gaza], then there is a chance,” she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recognized the couple in his address to the United Nations General Assembly, saying of the Goldins: “All they ask for is one simple thing – to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son, Hadar, in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn't care less.
“I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that's decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas — all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.”