Family of hostages at DC rally
Family of hostages at DC rallyChris A. Williams for Jewish Federations of North America

Learning of the demonstration at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza caused a light bulb to suddenly go off in my head. Finally, a demonstration was happening in the right place! Not in Tel Aviv in front of the IDF headquarters HaKirya, not in various cities around the country. Not in front of Bibi’s home in Caesaria or his office in Jerusalem. No.

Next to the point at which hundreds of trucks pass into Gaza to give "humanitarian" aid to Hamas (under the guise of giving it to the Gazan people, and the quotation marks are for those who think the word "human" is inapplicable) while they have a stranglehold on Israel over the hostage issue -- THAT is the right place to demonstrate.

At that moment, I understood that the “Bring them Home” slogan is all wrong.

It should be: “Let my People Go.”

“Bring them Home” makes it appear as if Israel is the only relevant actor. Perhaps that seems reasonable when we remember the dramatic rescues of the past: how Israel brought the Entebbe hostages home and airlifted Yeminite and Ethiopian Jews to safety in Israel. Some may remember the failed attempt to bring the IDF soldier Nachshon Waxman home in 1994 after he was abducted and held by Hamas.

And Israel was instrumental in bringing the first 105 hostages home from the tunnels of Gaza.

But continuing to pressure the Israeli security cabinet, more specifically Prime Minister Netanyahu, is misdirected. Pressure needs to be brought on those responsible for holding the hostages, an illegal act even in wartime.

Yes, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) did call for Hamas to release the remaining hostages immediately and unconditionally, but Hamas is unlikely to comply.

Just like it took a massive campaign to get Russia to loosen its grip on Jews at the end of the 1980s, it may take a massive campaign to get the hostages back home from Gaza.

And the targets for this campaign do not include Israel.

The demonstrations should be held under the banner of “Let my People Go!” They should be situated at the UN buildings in New York and Geneva and in front of embassies around the world – embassies for such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the USA, the UK, France, Russia, China, and any others deemed influential.

In an interesting initiative, Germany and Hungary issued passports for hostages who have relatives who were born in those countries. According to the Jerusalem Post, this provides a layer of protection as Hamas allegedly said they will deal separately with hostages with dual citizenship. We know that one Russian-Israeli man was released upon pressure from Russia, as were citizens of Thailand and one Filipino.

There are rumoured to be American and French dual citizens among the hostages and I do not understand why those countries are not ensuring, as Russia did, the release of their nationals. Perhaps they need to be pressured to insist on it. And to grant citizenship to others at the same time, and insist on their release as well.

These and other countries, therefore, should be the target of demonstrations and concerted pressure, not the Israeli government that is already fighting a war hoping that military accomplishments will bring the rest of the hostages home.

All those who care about the hostages should be shouting out “Let my People Go!”