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Sticking Together: ELNET delegation of European Parliamentarians visits MOTJ

February 28, 2024

“If there is one positive over the past 145 days, it is that after seeing the worst in humanity, we have seen the best in humanity,” said Jon Polin, the shattered yet determined father of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, to a gathering of ELNET, the European Leadership Network, during an event at the Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem for their 21st mission to Israel since the war’s outbreak on February 28.

Jon and his wife Rachel Goldberg addressed the crowd of European parliament members from countries such as Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, as well as Israel supporters from Germany and the United States. The attendees wore tape with the number “145” to express their solidarity for the plight of the hostages.

Rachel, known globally for her strength and commitment to her son’s cause in her countless interviews, choked up as she told the delegation each day she has to “Pretend to be human. I have to put on a costume of a normal person” in order to fight for her son. In a show of faith, she told the crowd that every day she continues to wake up and say the Modeh Ani prayer, a traditional sentence said by observant Jews upon rising in the morning. “I say thanks every day for another day to be able to do something good for my son.”

The dynamic couple said they continue to work 20 hours per day to bring their beloved son home. “We say saving one life is saving the universe. Well, we have 134 universes to save,” Rachel proclaimed to the attentive and emotional crowd.

Jon closed with words of encouragement, saying “We do what any parents would do for their kid. So we need to continue for ourselves, and for the millions supporting us around the world.”

The congregation is in Israel visiting the sites of Hamas’s attack and is meeting with military and political leaders to discuss the common bond and mutual interest between Israel and Europe, “with the goal of promoting pro-Israel policies in their native countries,” per David Siegel, president of Friends of ELNET.

MP Dovile Šakalienė, a member of Lithuania’s National Defence Committee, told the delegation “How important tolerance is to our world. As an autistic person, I know what it is like to be prejudiced and treated poorly just for being different, so I can only imagine what it is like to live under a reality where every nation is some capacity wants to destroy and obliterate your country (Israel).”

She called on the attendees and the nations of the world to “Stick together. It is our only way to survive.”

The chairman of Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Committee, MP Rihards Kols, gave an impassioned speech, lamenting the fall of democracies globally. “For 17 years in row the Freedom House Democracy Index is on a decline, and today only 20% of the world lives in free countries.”

He called for firm action when it comes to combatting evil in the world, highlighting his country’s support for Ukraine in its war against Russia, Taiwan in its slow encroachment from China, and now Israel in its war against Hamas. “If you hesitate, that is weakness,” Kols exclaimed.

The delegation was given a tour of the museum at the conclusion of the event prior to the resumption of their meetings across the country.

Photos: Tzahi Kraus

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