Interview with Director of Sderot Media Centre
Cassandra: We hear a lot in the media about the effect of Operation Cast Lead on the lives of innocent Gazans, yet virtually nothing about how Hamas rockets impact the lives of the citizens of Sderot. Why do you think this is?
Noam:Terrorism targets civilian populations: 97% of the rockets were fired from Gaza’s civilian population, 230 in the last 7 months. The purpose of the kassams is to kill and traumatise as many civilians as possible. Israel has to defend its own citizens by hitting targets, but in doing so, many Gazans get harmed, as Hamas use its civilians as human shields, which rouses world sympathy, further legitimising terrorists and encouraging them to keep launching missiles.There have been demonstrations against Israel worldwide because of massive media campaigns, yet no one is standing up and undermining the legitimacy of terrorism.There’s a saying the media takes heed only when it bleeds. On one side are mainly civilian casualties, on the other traumatic and psychological damage.We teach our kids to run to shelters – they teach their kids to run to the top of the roof to become human shields because it looks good for the camera.In this conflict it really is black and white. Our people want peace and security, while the other side train their people in military summer camps and use their entire population as human shields for propaganda purposes.There needs to be more education in order to understand the Israeli/Arab conflict. Most Israelis accept the two state solution, but the other side don’t accept Israel has a legitimate historical right to this land, and even call Sderot a settlement.Israel is the only country to ever give land for peace after winning a defensive war.It is a media war, so the battle to get the true story out needs to be through the media. The war in Gaza has affected the entire world and Hamas is becoming more legitimate.Hamas using children for staging cynical “Israel Targeting Children” propaganda scamsWe need to build networks, share information and show the human side of Sderot through the arts and theatre. We have launched a Community Theatre Project, working with 40 teenage girls, getting them to self express in front of a live diverse audience.
Cassandra: Five of our parliamentarians recently visited Sderot: Julie Bishop, Bruce Billson, Louise Markus, and Senators Simon Birmingham and Scott Ryan. How well informed were they about the impact the rockets had on Sderot citizens?
Noam:I showed them round and my information was very well r eceived.
Bruce Billson said “the fear and emotional impact this is having on the community – it’s not right. For things to move forward one needs to feel safe.”
Cassandra: Our deputy PM, Julia Gillard recently went with a delegation to Israel. At a news conference in Ramallah, she announced that Australia would provide $10 million additional funding to the PA. Labour have now given about $60 million taxpayer money to the ‘Palestinians’ since being elected.
I note the Sderot Emergency Center recently closed for lack of finances and that there is no first aid centre to treat the terror victims. What would you say to Julia Gillard?
Noam: The main problem is the PA is the most well financed and like no other population in human history. How come, with all that money, there are still refugee camps? In the past one and a half years, $3.5 billion had been invested in Gaza – from the EU, Iran, UN etc.
$5.2 billion was raised after the war in Gaza to rebuild it. Gaza is the only Arab territory in the Middle East conquered and ruled by Islamists.
Cassandra: What would you say to our government, which ignores the plight of democratic Israel, victim of ongoing terror attacks, while Gaza, run by Hamas terrorists, is treated sympathetically?
Noam: ”Why are you accepting Hamas, a terrorist regime that calls for the destruction of Israel and together with Hezbollah, is a third arm of Tehran?”
Cassandra: Was it a mistake to leave Gaza?
Noam: Yes. Since we left, over 7,000 rockets have been fired towards Israel. Over one million Israelis are under threat from missiles. Hamas is more popular than ever and accepted as legitimate by political leaders.
Cassandra: Is it true that Hamas times the rockets for when the kids are going to and from school?
If so, this is a moral outrage and a clear breach of the UN Charter on the Protection of the Child. Why doesn’t the world condemn this attack on children?
Noam:Yes, from 6-8 am, when kids are going to school and parents are on their way to shop and work, there are sirens followed by an explosion. And again at 3 pm.
The first casualty was on a child under five. The world doesn’t condemn because it mostly doesn’t hear about it – only when it bleeds.
And no one is taking the trouble to undermine the legitimacy of terrorism, but instead accepting the reality and building protected playgrounds.
Cassandra: Are children able to have a childhood, by playing outside or riding their bikes?
Noam:At times, the kids are not allowed to go out and play, but now there is a temporary lull, more children are playing outside, but note the playground has a bomb shelter.
Cassandra: What are the short term and long term effects on children of living under constant threat of attack?
Noam:Up to 94% suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), only there is no ‘post’, as it is ongoing and will be with them for life.
Cassandra: How do teenagers and young adults cope with the restrictions on their activities?
Noam:Girls change from high heels into their running shoes. Teenagers often share the bedroom with their parents. Upstairs rooms often cannot be used as it takes too long to run for shelter.
Cassandra: Much of the international media uses the term ‘war crime’ to describe Israel’s defensive operations in the Gaza Strip, yet give Hamas’s actions against Israel (which are clearly war crimes under the definition of the Geneva Convention) a free pass.
How can we bring back some ethics into the media and get them to report objectively?
Hon. Julie Bishop MP, Louise Markus MP, and Senator Simon Birmingham visiting a school with Sderot mother Shula Sasson.
Noam:Foreign journalist are not allowed into the Gaza strip, so they get reports from stringers, who fabricate numbers and stage scenarios. e.g. the UN school being hit.
The journalists repeat everything without investigating, and when it later turns out to be false, they refuse to take the blame.
Cassandra: Why do you think the world is unconcerned about the Sderot children, yet weep tears of sorrow for other suffering children?
Noam:The attacks get 5 seconds of air time on radio if there are no visible injuries. There is no public pressure, so you can’t expect decision makers to take action.
Cassandra: Give me some examples of the practical reality of living under Red Alert.
Noam:In shopping areas there are bomb shelters, but at the market where 80% of the elderly go because it is cheaper, they are at risk, and the elderly cannot run for cover in 15 seconds.
Many work in the industrial area outside Sderot, and risk their lives every day.
There is a special needs school that is hard to evacuate.
There are many incidents of heart attacks and brain damage, but these are not reported.
We are living in a Russian roulette reality.
Waiting for Qassams
Cassandra: Sderot Media Centre was instrumental in obtaining the finance for bomb shelters in schools and kindergartens. While commendable, doesn’t this ignore the root of the problem – Hamas using civilians as human shields?
Noam: Exactly! Protection is the first step but is not the solution. We need to deal with the root of the problem. This reality has become acceptable, giving legitimacy for terrorism opens up a dark element around the world.
We need to expose the human story.
We urgently need financial help to provide the other narrative to Gaza and to operate our website. During the war, we reached out to 138 countries in 8 languages. Our website is an international source of information, and we want to spread information further through art and theatre in our effort to balance the media stories.
When Eisenhower visited the camps after WW2, he urged documentation of the atrocities. Our weapon today is our cameras. We aim to archive and build ammunition, and have so far collected hundreds of 1 minute video clips.
An international producer has done an 8 minute documentary for National Geographic on my work. It’s the first international film to present PTSD on kids as a result of acts of terror and will create global awareness of 8 years living under rocket attack. The human story is our main media tool. The entire population is traumatised, and the symptoms will be with them all their lives.
One documentary can change the narrative.
Israel came out of Gaza because of public pressure, but the biggest flaw was they didn’t collect enough documentation to present Israel’s perspective. We need to invest money in changing public opinion.
Cassandra: Do you see the UN as having a role to play in stopping terrorism, or is it part of the problem?
Noam:As the Human Rights Council has Libya and Cuba making decisions, hope is not going to come from the UN, which uses its platform to bash Israel, while ignoring other problems.
Cassandra: Many Australians have an emotional attachment to that part of Israel, because of the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade during the Battle of Beersheba in 1917, which effectively broke the Ottoman Empire’s southern defenses, allowing British General Lord Edmund Allenby to advance on and capture Jerusalem and marking a major turning point in World WarI.
The memorial park to the Australian Light Horse has been erected in Beersheba is a major drawcard for Australians visiting Israel. There is an Australian Light Horse Association.
Noam: Yes, Australians have a special bond and paid with their blood. Over 60,000 were killed during the war, which lead to the foundation of the League of Nations.
Cassandra: How do we get across that Hamas, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, is not just an Israeli and Jewish problem, but is part of the worldwide Jihad is an Arabic word which comes from the root word “jahada”; which means “exerting utmost effort” or “to strive”. In Islamic tradition it means “to struggle in the way of Allah” and is sometimes referred to as the sixth tenneth of Islam.
For the vast majority of practising Muslims Jihad means a Holy War, a military struggle in the name of Allah.
The entire sura 9 (The Sura of the Sword) of the Qur’an deals with Jihad and Muslim duties related to the spreading of Dar al Islam.
In addition to the above, the Hadith defines Jihad as a violent warfare against infidels on 199 occasions.
In contrast, the theory of a Greater Jihad or a peaceful inner struggle is based upon only one reference and from a non authoritative collection of Hadith.
Today all the legal Islamists posing as moderates try to convince their Western audience that it is the ‘Greater Jihad’, which is the most important for Muslim spiritual life but the actions of militant Islam everywhere seem to contradict this claim. ‘, CAPTION, ‘Jihad’,BELOW,RIGHT, WIDTH, 300, FGCOLOR, ‘#CCCCCC’, BGCOLOR, ‘#660000’, TEXTCOLOR, ‘#000000’, CAPCOLOR, ‘#FFFFFF’, OFFSETX, 10, OFFSETY, 10);” onmouseout=”return nd();” href=”http://islammonitor.org/index.php?option=com_rd_glossary&task=view&id=5″>Jihad against infidels?
Noam:The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre explains exactly what is going on.
We need more education – how Israel is under attack because it is the only democracy in the Middle East.
Cassandra: Finally, how can people in Australia get hold of information and material about Sderot?
Noam: By visiting our website:www.SderotMedia.com
Cassandra: Thank you very much. If anyone wants to offer financial help to the centre, which is independent of government and the only grass roots voice for ordinary people being denied ordinary lives because of Islamic terror, please visit the website.