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Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with family members of Israeli hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip

December 1, 2023

In an emotional meeting organized by the Museum of Tolerance, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger met with family members of Israeli hostages being held captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The families represented included close relatives of: Amit Shani, Elkanah Bohbut, and Lior Rudaeff. The meeting took place at Schwarzenegger's home in Los Angeles and Rabbi Marvin Hier, co-chair of the Museum of Tolerance, Jonathan Riss, Managing Director, and representatives of Silvan Adams, trustee of the Museum, attended.

"They will return," declared former Governor Schwarzenegger. "It is our duty to the hostages, to do everything in our power to help release them and ensure their safe return to their loved ones. Israel does what any country would do – defends itself against pure evil, and it is crucial that we all stand for the sake of Israel in times of trouble".

 "We need to be clear about anti-Semitism too. It has no place in our society, and we must uproot it from the foundation. Anti-Semitism is an evil that cannot be allowed to thrive. We all have the responsibility to be clear on this matter and ensure that Jews in America and around the world feel secure," added Governor Schwarzenegger.

 Rabbi Hier stated that Jews worldwide stand by the families of the captives in times of distress. "The State of Israel does what every democracy would do to protect its citizens from terrorist acts and inhumane mass murderers. People may call for a ceasefire, but Israel, like the United States in World War II, will never cease in the face of its enemies. It is our duty to stand alongside Israel in the fight against forces of evil and hatred."

 Family members at the meeting:

Ella Shani (14) from Kibbutz Beeri, whose father was killed by Hamas terrorists on October 7, and her cousin, Amit Shani (16), who was abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip. Amit hid in a storage room in his house when Hamas set the house on fire and broke down the door. Amit and two other Israeli men from the nearby house were instructed to get into a car and were kidnapped to Gaza.

 Yaacov Bohbut (36), whose brother Elkanah Bohbut (34) was kidnapped by Hamas from the Nova Music Festival. Married to Rebecca and a father to three-year-old Ram, Elkanah called his mother and wife to inform them that he was helping the injured on the morning of October 7 and would return home soon. Later, his family saw him in a video posted by Hamas on Telegram, where he was bound on the floor with his face covered in blood.

 Bar Rudaeff (27) is the son of Lior Rudaeff, 61 years old, a member of the Rapid Response Team in Nir Yitzchak who is being held hostage by Hamas. The father of two and grandfather of four, he went to defend his Kibbutz on the morning of October. At around 9:00 am Lior informed his children that he was injured and has not been heard from since then. Lior had a severe heart attack two years ago and has since been on daily blood thinners. For more than 50 days, Lior has not received his medications and is without his glasses.

An op-ed by Rabbi Marvin Hier. Published in The Jerusalem Post on December 8nd, 2023.

Photos: Tzachi Kraus

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