ISRAEL: Cannes awards campaign for abducted soldiers
Israel and Hezbollah are evidently moving toward a prisoner exchange deal that will bring home the two Israeli army reservists kidnapped in July 2006, an incident which triggered the second Lebanon war. After two long years of public campaigning and private anguish, the families may soon attain closure as the second anniversary of the kidnapping approaches and reports of an imminent deal persist.
Between press interviews, meeting with government officials and attending support rallies, it is doubtful whether the families had time to pay attention to the 55th international advertising festival in Cannes this week. But Cannes paid attention to them and perhaps tribute too as it granted a prestigious Golden Lion award to an Israeli advertising agency for a public awareness campaign it ran last year to keep the missing soldiers atop the nation's agenda.
The campaign called for a five-minute Internet blackout on the first anniversary of the kidnappings. More than 400 Israeli websites complied and on July 12 at 9:05 a.m. -- the exact hour of the blast that had killed three soldiers and injured another three, including Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, who were kidnapped -- shut down and posted a Web page with the message "the soldiers cannot be found," designed like the universal "page cannot be found" message one gets when loading an inactive website. Television and radio stations stopped broadcasting, too, to participate in what became an Internet equivalent of the minutes of silence observed on somber commemoration days in Israel.
The campaign was produced pro-bono for an activist organization promoting awareness of the abductees' agenda by Y&R Interactive, of the Israeli office of Shalmor, Avnon, Amichay/Y&R.
Meanwhile, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit remains captive in Gaza. Seven hundred twenty-three -- and a lot of people are counting.
-- Batsheva Sobelman in Jerusalem
Photo: "The soldiers cannot be found" on the MSN website. Click to enlarge. Image courtesy of Shalmor, Avnon, Amichay/Y&R.