A Billboard to Bring Gilad Shalit Home?

It’s Memorial Day here in the U.S. and I’m thinking about the soldiers in my life. A good portion of my family has served: my grandpa, both my parents, a few 2nd cousins… My little brother is a cadet at West Point. I’d like to think that we won’t be at war by the time G graduates in 3 years, but…
I’ve noticed that my thoughts about Memorial Day have changed a bit over the years – it’s no longer just a “free from school/work” holiday but a chance to reflect on lives sacrificed for my safety and freedom. No, Memorial Day isn’t just about grilling out anymore, it’s about real people and real losses.
As I continue thinking about the soldiers in my life, my thoughts turn to Israel. I think about my fiance, a captain in the IDF who’s finishing up the last few months of his service. I’m thankful that today was another uneventful one for him – filled with leaf raking and other yard work on his base (there’s a “how many engineers does it take?” joke in there somewhere, I’m sure). And then my thoughts turn to an email I got last week about Gilad Shalit – a soldier whose day was not so easy.
The email came from Gal Sitty, a 28-year-old from Los Angeles who’s leading up an effort to erect a “Free Gilad” billboard right near the U.N. Billboard placements are expensive – especially in prime New York City real estate. So Sitty is using EpicStep, a crowdfunding site where pledges large and small can be pooled together. If the fundraising goal is met, the board goes up. If it’s not met within deadline, donors’ credit cards aren’t charged.
The “Free Gilad” billboard will cost $10,000 to put up – the campaign is just over halfway to its goal as of Monday night. If the campaign is fully funded by June 6th, the hope is that the board will go up in time for the June 25th fifth anniversary of Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping by Hamas. In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Sitty says “I think getting this billboard up keeps the pressure on … leaders of the world to not overlook this human tragedy.”
I wonder if this billboard will be enough to incite any real action (assuming the campaign is fully funded and the board goes up) – I’m not entirely sure just how much media space time and what kind of placement $10,000 will buy you in New York City but I’d imagine it doesn’t amount to much. But I DO think the campaign is an innovative way to generate some buzz around the cause. And *that* might help. If you’re interested in donating to the campaign, click here for the EpicStep “Free Gilad” page.

What do you think? Smart idea to keep Gilad’s name in the papers or would the time and money be better spent on other efforts?

(Image: zeevveez)