June 9, 2009
Greetings from Sderot,
This letter serves to update Sderot Media Center’s supporters on the current activities of the center during the ceasefire and SMC’s present and future place in Sderot/Israel advocacy.
Current SMC Activities: In the past six months, since the military operation in Gaza, over 212 rockets have been fired at Israel during this ‘ceasefire’ period, the third ceasefire in the past two years. It is in these days of relative ‘quiet’ that material and information from Sderot Media Center becomes even more in demand. The number of groups and officials who have visited Sderot with SMC in the recent lull has increased dramatically since the war ended in January.
On June 4, the British Ambassador to Israel, Tom Phillips visited Sderot Media Center to learn more about our organizations’ activities and the impact of the recent rocket fire on the community-specifically the post-trauma symptoms affecting both children and adults. Check out the British Embassy’s coverage of the the visit here: http://ukinisrael.fco.gov.uk/en/newsroom/?view=PressR&id=18889861.
During recent months, Sderot Media Center’s Meital Ohayon has been working with top international film producer, Liane Thompson, on the first feature-length documentary on Sderot. Thompson has produced for the National Geographic Channel and Discovery Communications Inc. Visit the project’s website for more information on the Sderot documentary: http://www.childrenofmissilecity.com/.
The calm has also given us the opportunity to refocus our organization’s goals. On our website’s homepage you will see the three areas in which we work to generate global awareness to the Sderot story: media outreach, education, and social media projects.
With rockets and without rockets, Sderot Media Center is active in all three of these areas. More detailed information is provided below.
Media Outreach: Although SMC engages more intensively in media outreach during rocket escalations, we continue to provide regular updates and articles to Israeli and international news websites, newspapers and magazines. Jerusalem Post, YNet News, Front Page Magazine, Bangor Daily News of Maine, The Jewish Advocate of Boston, and are a few examples of news journals and websites that have carried SMC articles
during the lull.
SMC has also conducted media outreach on behalf of the Sderot trauma facilities, which are facing potential closure due to financial budget cuts. Sderot Media Center has been pressuring and corresponding with Knesset members to secure further funding for the trauma facilities , alongside Dr. Katz and Dalia Yosef, directors of the trauma facilities. Out of the NIS 6 million needed to keep five trauma centers in Sderot and the western Negev open, the Knesset has thus far provided NIS 1.5 million which will keep the centers going until December.
Education: Sderot Media Center has increased its education activities during this period of quiet. Because of the decrease in rocket attacks, the number of student groups and organizations visiting Sderot has dramatically risen, and have included visits from US and Canadian college students participating in Aish Hasbara, Young Judea, and Israel Experience programs. Since Operation Cast Lead, over 500 visitors have come through Sderot Media Center including diplomats, foreign press, governments officials and student groups.
During the quiet period, the following officials have visited Sderot with Sderot Media Center:
Social Media Projects: Sderot Media Center has continued in full swing with the Sderot Community Treatment Theater project. A script based on rocket life in Sderot has been completed and the Sderot high school girls participating in the project will be reay to perform the play this August 2009 across Israel and eventually in the US, Canada and the U.K.
Advisory Board: As we are now officially a non-profit organization, we have established a respected board of directors and advisors who include the president of the ZOA, the head of the Israel Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, a former Israeli foreign ministry envoy to the US, a Boston University history professor, and a Hillel campus director in Vancouver, among many other respected individuals.
SMC at the Present
In the past three years of its existence, Sderot Media Center has built trusted relationships and connections with Israeli Knesset members, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Jewish Agency, the Israel Government Press Office, and top correspondents from the New York Times and the UK’s Sunday Times, among others. These bodies rely on our center to provide reliable and up-to-date information on the security situation and the lasting traumatic impact of the rocket attacks on the Sderot and western Negev region.
SMC in the Future
With the Sderot Community Treatment Theater, SMC has developed a new concept in social media-combining therapy, self-expression, and documentation/presentation of Sderot life. The fact that it will take years to rehabilitate the traumatized population of
Sderot means that the human story of Sderot will continue. The social media tools which SMC provides to the Sderot community (which helps residents cope and express their traumatic experiences) will continue to serve as a vital source for Israel advocacy. Through the media art like drama, Sderot residents have the opportunity to present the Israel perspective to the world, which in the long term will balance the Gaza narrative.
In other words, the Sderot-Gaza conflict is not over yet.
We appreciate the financial support and feedback that our supporters have provided Sderot Media Center thus far. Your support has enabled Sderot Media Center to implement Sderot global awareness in the ways mentioned above. Your continued support will enable the center to continue operating and providing the residents of Sderot and the western Negev with a voice in the global media and in international policy making.
Sderot Media Center Director
tel. 972-545-598 977
Noam with US Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) at the Sderot Police Station in February.
British Member of Parliament, Jeffrey Donaldson visits with Sderot Media in March.
Noam with Canadian Embassy Political Officer, Gregory Galligan in May.
British Ambassador, Tom Phillips visits Sderot Media Center in June.