A year after Israel celebrated her 60th birthday “Do the Write Thing” seminar was held in Israel for Israeli and English speaking young journalists. Through out the week long program these students were given an insight into Israel’s media and her influences in Israeli society. Numerous lectures by top Israeli journalists and officials allowed the participants to receive top hand knowledge in Israeli journalism. The Hagshama Department of the W.Z.O. and the Prime Minister’s Office held various seminars for Jewish student journalists in the 2009 General Assembly Conference as well. These seminars provided further insight into various elements of Israeli society. Issues such as Israel’s educational diversions, challenges for Jews in Israeli society, Israeli economic turbulence, empowering the Ethiopian community and prospects of a shared Arab Israeli society were lectured and analyzed.
Additionally, issues in regard to Israeli security, Israeli military capability, and Israeli political leadership were discussed by numerous political figures including MK Ariyeh Eldad, MK Avshalom Vilan, and former IDF Chief of Staff Bugi Yaalon.
Also, the program included a visit to the city of Sedrot. Sedrot a city located in the western Negev has experienced for over seven years constant rocket fire by terrorist organizations in the Gaza strip. As students boarded the bus to Sedrot feelings of strong concern and fear were felt. The ride was filled with active political arguments over the Sderot situation and quite prayers of tfilat haderech. As we got closer to the city I overheard one of the participant ask will there ever be peace in Israel. An immediate answer was not made until one participate responded that peace will not be made through false signed agreements and promises. She continued stating peace will arise when leaders and followers of terror organizations realize that terror is a mechanism for civil atrocities and not a step towards peace.
As she finished talking we were notified that the visit to Sedrot was cancelled due to morning rocket fire. Questions between the participants arose. “Was anyone hurt? Will more rockets hit Sderot today? Why isn’t the government stopping the rocket fire?” A sense of sadness towards the Sderot people was felt as the bus passed the city. Many participant agreed to visit Sderot this year in order to show their support to Sderot residents.
Sderot was not a forgotten issue during the week long program. Participants of “Do the Write Thing” attending the 2009 General Assembly on Nov 17 heard Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak addressing the Sedrot situation with great concern. He vowed to protect the people of Sderot against the constant rocket fire. He spoke of Sedrot children not waking up with the rocket sirens, going to school fearless and ending the conflict. Tzipi Livini answering questions to reporters after her GA speech, claimed strong support to Sedrot residents and expressed her personal goal to end the conflict with Israeli Arab neighbors. Anav Silverman, a reporter from Sedrot Media Center stated in a private interview that Israeli political officials must play a larger role in ending the plight of Sedrot residents. “Supporting Sedrot has to involve more work than just political speeches” she says. “Building bomb shelters, providing more psychiatric aid to trauma victims, and providing financial assistance and shelters to residence of rocket hit homes must be implemented” she said. She concludes stating that the Israeli political arena fails to provide the necessary aid and understanding to the plight of Sderot residents.
In all, I felt that Do The Write Thing seminar gave me the tools and knowledge necessary for furthering my understanding of the wide spectrum of issues that make the Israeli political field.