State of Tel Aviv
State of Tel Aviv, Israel Podcast
S2 E43. Hamas Hostage Romi Gonen: How Her Family Copes
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S2 E43. Hamas Hostage Romi Gonen: How Her Family Copes

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For the four siblings and parents of 23-year-old Hamas hostage, Romi Gonen, life has been totally upended since October 7, 2023. . Her mother, Meirav Leshem Gonen, older sister Yarden and her father, Eitan, were on the phone with her for four hours that morning. From the very first moments of the Hamas attack she was in near constant contact with one of them. They heard everything. In separate podcasts in January (links are in the notes, below), I interviewed both Meirav and Eitan. They spoke in detail about those surreal hours when no one understood the scope of the attack. But their Romi was in the vortex of the unfolding Hell and thank goodness she had a charged phone so that they could support her. Until, that is, the Hamas monsters pulled her from the car where she was trapped, with a bullet in her arm. (All this is discussed in detail in the January podcasts.) Not until some hostages were released in late November did the family receive confirmation that Romi was alive.

For nine months they have been among the hostage families at the forefront of efforts to ensure that the ongoing savagery of Hamas is not forgotten. They are at the United Nations, meeting with government leaders, groups and individuals visiting Israel, media, anyone and everyone who demonstrates an interest in the desperate plight of the hostages. I have met with Meirav and other family members on numerous occasions. This episode is a special focus on what their lives have become.

When I was in Geneva recently on June 19 (total coincidence), I was invited to watch Meirav Leshem Gonen address the opening plenary session of the UN Human Rights Council, at which Navi Pillay, Chair of the latest Commission of Inquiry into Israel’s conduct since October 7th, presented her “findings”. Not only is the Commission yet another UN farce, but the tenor of the proceedings contrasted so sharply with the dignity of Meirav. Her power saturated the large meeting hall.

Join me on this fascinating journey with the Gonen family, through desperate lows, hope, determination, fury and a relentless focus on doing everything possible to free Romi and all the other hostages in Hamas hell. It is a tour de force because of who and what they are. Their determination and courage are just awesome. You will hear Meirav laugh, cry, tear a strip off the UN Human Rights Commission and more. We get into music, family, power and the responsibility of every person who cherishes freedom to step up and speak up. This is the story of what was probably a quite ordinary family that has come to embody devotion, strength, decency, dignity and ferocious love. They are anything but ordinary. And we discuss that too - how circumstances have thrown them into this insane life situation and how they have risen to the challenge, together.

Meirav Leshem Gonen being interviewed by AFP outside main gate to UN campus in Geneva
Israeli Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva, Meirav Eilon Shahar and Meirav Leshem Gonen, June 19, 2024
Yarden Gonen and others being interviewed in Geneva, June 19, 2024

Podcast Notes:

Remarks of Ms. Navi Pillay at UNHRC, June 19, 2024:

Remarks of Meirav Leshem Gonen at UNHRC, June 19, 2024:

Link to UNHRC proceedings on June 19, 2024

Eden Golan “Hurricane” video on Youtube

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State of Tel Aviv
State of Tel Aviv, Israel Podcast
Podcast: State of Tel Aviv, and Beyond: the podcast that tells the story. Unfiltered. We work it hard so that you will understand what’s really going down in Israel.