Having lived through and seen over three decades of violence, losing two family members to terrorism, and playing a major role in the 1998 resolution of the Northern Ireland conflict, Member of British Parliament Jeffrey Donaldson visited Sderot with Sderot Media Center this Monday. MP Donaldson is from the Lagan Valley of Northern Ireland and also holds an honorable position on Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council. He was brought to Sderot and accompanied by Michael Onifer of the Eagles’ Wings organization.
MP Donaldson knows all too well the hardships of terrorism as he lost two family members to the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the Northern Ireland conflict and has fought against the forces of terror his entire life. He strongly desired to see the human side of the situation in Sderot and not merely stop here for a press photograph opportunity. He spent time visiting with Sderot resident and mother Shula Sasson at her home where they were able to discuss her life in Sderot and the current political situation. MP Donaldson conveyed his sympathy for Sasson’s family and told them he has spoken for Israel in Parliament before and will continue to support them in the British government.
Video: Meital Ohayon
MP Donaldson also had a meaningful visit with the head of the Sderot Mental Health Center Dr. Adriana Katz. The two were able to compare and discuss difficulties Sderot faces in treating generations that suffer from Post Traumatic Stress as MP Donaldson has also worked for many years with victims of trauma in Northern Ireland.
While visiting the only playground in the world constructed to protect children from the daily threat of rockets, MP Donaldson began drawing connections to his experience in the Northern Ireland conflict and his thoughts on the broader political outlook of the current conflict with Hamas. MP Donaldson stated, “The IRA used very similar tactics to what Hamas is using today. However, the clear difference is that Hamas’ mission is to destroy Israel.” He said he was here in Israel to bring the message that when approaching Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in negotiations Israel should be careful not to offer too much while not receiving enough in return.
MP Donaldson on the Protected Playground
Photo: Hamutal Ben Shitrit
MP Donaldson concluded his visit in Sderot viewing Qassams that had been fired at Sderot. When looking back at his visit he said, “I found it very frustrating during the recent action in Gaza that only one side of the story was being told…We simply can’t look at the situation in Israel and Gaza and not understand that on a daily basis people in Israel are suffering as a result of what Hamas is doing.”
It was great for someone of such stature and personal experience to see first hand the trauma and daily reality of rockets that the people live with in Sderot. MP Donaldson showed not only that he is an advocate for Israel in the British Parliament but having lived in a similar traumatic environment he is truly a friend of the people of Sderot.