WASHINGTON, March 3: On a recent trip to Capitol Hill, Sderot Media Center director, Noam Bedein held a special briefing with US congressmen and their advisors highlighting the rocket situation in Sderot and southern Israel initiated by EMET’s President, Sarah Stern.
A day previously, on Monday March 2, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had pledged $900 million at a conference in Egypt set to raise billions of dollars for Gaza reconstruction after Operation Cast Lead. The single largest contributor was Saudi Arabia who pledged to donate $1 billion at the conference, with the US coming with the second largest pledge, according to Associated Press .
In all, international donors pledged to raise $5.2 billion which far surpassed the $2.8 billion that Abbas‘ Palestinian Authority had originally planned to raise.
There has been no international recognition to date of the devastation caused by Palestinian rockets targeting Israeli civilians in the south or any international pledges towards rebuilding the lives of southern Israelis including Sderot residents, whose lives have been shattered by the eight on-going years of Gaza rocket fire.
According to the Times Online, Mrs. Clinton, who warned Hamas to stop its rocket fire, said the basis for peace should be a 2002 plan endorsed by the Arab League, whereby Israel would pull back from the West Bank to allow a Palestinian state to emerge there as well as in Gaza, in return for peace accords with the Arab world.
Since the unilateral ceasefire held in January, over 120 Gaza rockets have slammed into Israel, targeting civilian areas. Sderot and western Negev residents have been forced to enter bomb shelters almost weekly in light of impending rocket attacks and explosions.
Following the meeting between Bedein and the Congressmen on Capitol Hill, Democratic Representative Shelley Berkley of Nevada drafted a petition to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, which demanded that the aid to Gaza be delayed as long as the rocket fire continues and Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian terrorists three years ago, remains captive by Hamas.
Berkley, a Jewish Congresswoman who is known for her support of Israel and Operation Cast Lead, told Haaretz that Israel may have been too tolerant.
The Capitol Hill meeting was made possible by Sarah Stern, President and Founder of the EMET organization (Endownment for Middle East Truth), who invited Bedein to speak at the EMET colloquium, “Was the War in Gaza Justified?” (http://www.emetonline.org/ ) EMET was established two years ago with the purpose of battling Islamic extremism and terrorism through information dessimination, policy forums, Congressional luncheons, seminars and many other venues. Its advisory board has included former Ambassador Jean Kirpatrick, as well as Daniel Pipes, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, and Caroline Glick.
Representative Berkley’s initiative made media waves in Israel and has also enabled Sderot Media Center to approach the Shalit family in their campaign for the release of Gilad.
For more on Bedein’s impact on Capitol Hill, click below on the links to Haaretz and other new sites which carried the story:
No Gilad Shalit, No Gaza Aid: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1069109.html (English)
Shalit’s Family New Campaign:
Photo: Noam Bedein at Capitol Hill