On a recent rainy Tuesday afternoon one hundred and fifty participants in a Young Judea program traveled to Sderot to show solidarity with area residents and to learn something about the people who live here. The students, attending colleges throughout the US and Canada, as well as England, toured the city center, walked into the bomb shelters, and stared at the huge, grotesque, protecting shelters spreading itself over the schools.
The students then dropped by the Sderot Visitors’ Center whose director, Noam Bedein, showed them video footage of rocket attacks on the city and spoke of the daily rocket attacks has had on Sderot families and children.
The North American students came away with an understanding of, and a feeling for, how Israelis in the western Negev lived before the Hamas-Israel ceasefire in June. A number of topics were discussed during this tour, such as the possibility of a resumption of the Qassam rocket barrages when the ceasefire ends. Another topic that arises is how to create more objectivity and balance in media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Reporting ordinary life in Sderot and the surrounding area is a step in that direction – let people know what goes on here. Better yet, let them hear about it from ordinary students who have seen it.
Photo: Hamutal Ben Shitrit
These students will now return to the campuses where they study and tell their friends a different tale from that which most people read in the newspapers. Having such student groups visit Sderot goes far to presenting Israel ‘s side of the Arab-Israeli conflict. How it feels to live near Gaza, remembering the recent attacks, knowing that Arab terror networks a few miles away stock up on rockets – ordinary students in international universities will now hear it from their peers who have seen it first hand. At Sderot Media Center, we feel that this is among the most effective ways of putting the story before young opinion-makers.
University campuses today are overrun with anti-Zionist views. We empower students to counterattack them.
Photo: Hamutal Ben Shitrit
One of our Young Judea groups, FZY university students from England, who visited Sderot in April, 2008, found the experience so inspiring that they initiated an awareness campaign of their own when they returned to London. During their visit to Sderot, this British group had experienced three Tzeva Adoms, or Red Alert sirens, warning of incoming rockets about to land in Sderot.
The British students printed “Tzeva Adom!”, and the name “Sderot” on sweatshirts. They also distributed flyers and other items in order to spread the word about Sderot throughout the streets and communities of London. They published articles and poems in local Jewish journals about their experience and the traumatic impact of rocket fire has on Sderot’s civilians.
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