The Knesset Education Committee held a special session Tuesday evening on how to perpetuate last year's national unity. The members discussed how to perpetuate the ideals that were manifested as a result of the kidnapping/murder of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel a year ago.
The committee resolved that a National Unity Day should be commemorated every year in Israel's schools and cultural and sports institutions.
The general consensus last year at this time – at the height of the search for the three missing youths – was that the national unity that arose around the tragedy, and around the goals of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, was profound and inspirational. The mothers of the three youths are often credited with motivating this atmosphere, and particularly Racheli Frenkel.
Though some expected the parents to make angry demands upon the government and security forces, Mrs. Frenkel changed the national mood when, two days after the kidnapping, she expressed faith and confidence that "everyone in the government, army and elsewhere is doing everything humanly possible to bring the boys home safely," and added her "utmost thanks for all the support that everyone is doing… We feel waves and waves of prayers and support and positive energy… We request everyone to continue praying, [while the] professional people do their job [as well]."
The Knesset committee, which hosted the youths' parents, the Director of the Gesher Organization (promoting bridge-building and dialogue in Israeli society), and others, discussed ways to implant the values of national unity in society. An impromptu Unity Day was held last month on the first anniversary of the kidnapping, and the goal is to have such a commemoration every year.
The committee, headed by MK Yaakov Mergi (Shas), resolved that the Education Ministry be asked to set aside an annual day on which to impart the value of national unity. Even more noteworthy was the decision to ask the Chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies to render Unity Day a nationwide commemoration, even via legislation if necessary.
Bat-Galim Shaar, whose son Gil-ad was one of the three murdered youths, said at the session, "Last year at this time we were all exposed to record-breaking levels of evil – but also to record-highs of inspirational goodness and unity. Even with the pain, the unity strengthened us both personally and nationally. It proved that if we peel away the differences in our opinions – which can still remain – there is room for cooperation and working together – and it should be done all year round."