April 15, 2024
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Redeeming Hadar: A Family Wants to Bury Its Son

A double standard has proven to be the modus operandi when it comes to the international community’s reaction to the horrors and violence in Israel and Gaza. Hamas has used its own people as human shields and stabbing people at random but that’s all right. Israel tries to protect as many people on both sides as possible, and that’s war crimes.

That double standard is what is being faced by Drs. Leah and Simcha Goldin, the parents of Second Lt. Hadar Goldin who was killed two hours after a temporary ceasefire was negotiated by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Just two hours after it was declared on August 1, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, the 23-year-old officer of the IDF’s Givati Brigade and two other Israeli soldiers were ambushed and then killed and their remains abducted and displayed on the streets by Hamas.

“He was the victim of a ceasefire rather than the victim of a war,” Dr. Leah Goldin told JLNJ. She said that at the time because it was a ceasefire, Israeli soldiers are not allowed to shoot. Hamas has no such rules. She said her son did nothing to defend himself.

During this time, the soldiers of his unit, thinking that Hadar was still alive, performed what is known as a Hannibal Directive, attempting to cause enough chaos to help a live captive escape; however, Hadar was already dead.

The ever-increasing price for information about the soldiers’ remains was upped just last Monday by a senior Hamas official, Mahmoud A-Zahar, to the release of every terrorist re-arrested in Israel following the abduction and murder of the three Israeli teens last summer. That incident was celebrated by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as it was news that the remains of IDF soldiers were in the hands of Hamas.

Yet on Friday, Israel returned the bodies of the three terrorists who killed a border police officer last week to their families for the price of no rallies of incitement to further violence, to which the family agreed.

Meanwhile, the Goldins, accompanied by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, were granted a meeting with Edmond Mullet, the Chef de Cabinet for Ki-moon last week, to hear their urging of the UN to do what it could to have the bodies of Hadar and Staff Sergeant Oron Shaul, 22, also killed in 2014, returned for burial.

Though initially hopeful, Goldin was angered by a recent statement of Ki-moon in which he justified the Palestinian actions as “human nature.”

The Goldins have been in New York and New Jersey for the past couple of weeks to raise awareness of their family’s plight.

Malcolm I. Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told The Jewish Link, “We are working on this issue both with American and foreign leaders. We believe it is an important humanitarian issue. The family is entitled to the return of their beloved son and to not be subjected to this continued terrible situation. We pray our efforts, together with all of those overseas that the Goldin parents have mobilized, will yield successful results very soon.”

The Goldins have also spoken with several media outlets, as well as with the Orthodox Union, representatives of the Rabbinical Council of America as well as at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood.

In a phone interview with JLNJ, Leah Goldin spoke of Hadar, a twin, the two youngest of her four children. “Hadar was a very gifted person, excellent in everything he did and a guide [leader] in Bnei Akiva [a Zionist youth movement]. He was a gifted artist. We have opened a third exhibition of his artwork and are negotiating to bring it to New York.

“In the army, he was an excellent officer over his soldiers. He was a very intellectual person. He left a lot of writings about his thoughts, about his ideas of the world, letters he sent to [the members of the group he guided in Bnei Akiva].”

Asked about the contents of some of the letters, Goldin said he was a person of peace. “All his initiatives were motivated to [forge] a connection between people, religious and non-religious, and bring peace to every discussion and bring love and joy to everything.”

In the pictures released to the media of Hadar he is smiling. “The smile is from the inside,” said Goldin.

She said that Hadar had words of wisdom for soldiers who complained of some of the activities they were tasked with as part of their basic training. “When we had to do too much kitchen work and we’d complain, he’d say, ‘Look, this is what am Yisrael expects you to do at this time. Another soldier didn’t want to go for a medic course, and Hadar would say, ‘This is what am Yisrael needs you to do.’ He always would say, ‘Am Yisrael needs you to do this.’”

Goldin said Hadar had no particular goal for when his tour in the IDF was over, but from those who knew him and spoke with him, he seemed to indicate he’d want to be an educator.

She said she remembers a trip taken in 2013 by the family when Hadar was on leave. “We took [the family] to Cambridge and London on vacation. It was my birthday and as a present to me Hadar drew comics describing us doing punting on the Thames. We had a good time.”

From the happy memories of the past, Goldin was reluctant to speak of the sadness of the past two years and the funeral for Hadar held in 2015. “It’s the first time the army decided to give soldiers dual status. He was declared dead because of forensic evidence (his blood on his equipment). The chief rabbi of the army [Rabbi Shlomo Goren] decided we could hold a funeral or not but we decided to do so. At the same time, his body was kidnapped.

“Now we struggle to bring him back.”

Asked how the family is communicating with Hamas, Goldin said they aren’t. They’ve been told by both the IDF and the Israeli government officials that the return of the bodies is part of the negotiations. However, most of the information about the negotiations is confidential.

Goldin said that they’ve been speaking to people in the United States, asking for their advice on who to speak to and contact to help raise awareness as well as to move the UN to action on the behalf of all families seeking the return of their loved ones, alive or dead.

The visit to the U.N. was one of the first times the Goldins had direct contact with officials other than members of the Israeli government.

“They [the international community] are putting a lot of effort into humanitarian acts to rebuild Gaza. What about a humanitarian act of returning the remains of soldiers?” she asked. “Something that has been done out of a sense of decency between belligerents since ancient times.”

She said that Hamas keeps setting the price for returning soldiers and/or their remains. Goldin said it’s time for a change, that Israel set the price. She said that it should be a priority before there are major humanitarian efforts to help Gaza. In support of that feeling, Tzur Goldin, Hadar’s twin, told Israeli President Reuven Rivlin last June, “We insist that the return of the fallen soldiers be a national mission of the highest priority and not a family’s personal interest.

“Now we feel am Yisrael needs us to do this.”

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, where the Goldins visited, said he does not think there is anything else or any avenue other than through the government that can be taken to return Hadar’s remains to them.

The rabbi was asked, given the wisdom of the Mishnah that states the highest mitzvah that can be performed is to redeem captives, how could this situation, with the price of redemption being the release of terrorists, be resolved?

He said, “People should respect the difficulties of the decisions to be made by the leaders of the State of Israel. How to deal with this is very, very hard. Clearly, on the one hand, they have a responsibility to protect their citizenry and they should not release those that will endanger their citizenry for living or dead captives. At the same time, if you’re the parent of a child who is a captive, their release is the highest need that you may have. Certainly our commitment and Israel’s commitment is that we never leave a soldier behind. These are very wrenching decisions and difficult decisions and God should grant wisdom to the leaders who have to make them.”

By Anne Phyllis Pinzow

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