Every Friday morning in Oklahoma City a siren wails, testing the system that warns of a tornado heading towards the city. When Oklahoma residents hear this siren at any other time, they have between two and twenty minutes to find refuge in an underground shelter.
Tornadoes can form suddenly, with little or no warning. Even a mini-tornado can cause devastation and death. The immense power of these natural storms is documented in a May 2011 report on the tornado that swept through Joplin Missouri and killed 122 people there.
The tornado threat became apparent to me when I was lecturing at Oklahoma State University as part of Sderot Media Center’s 7th North America Campus tour, sponsored by The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – CAMERA.
Oklahoma State University students who attended the November 2011 CAMERA event saw SMC’s films of Israelis running for cover from aerial attacks launched from Gaza and identified with people running for their lives with only seconds to get to shelter. Students mentioned that just hearing the weekly tornado warning test siren can also be traumatizing.
Oklahoma State University students’ descriptions of what it is like to live under the constant threat of destruction and possible death are similar to what we have heard and personally experienced in Sderot over the past decade.
The only difference is that tornadoes emanate from mother nature and cannot be stopped, while terror attacks come from human beings who violate basic norms of human nature.
Indeed, Gaza aerial attacks are monitored by modern technology that triggers an alert system. Israeli citizens who hear the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) alarm have between 15 and 45 seconds (not minutes) to reach shelter. Unlike tornadoes, terrorist attacks are planned and carried out by human beings whose uncompromising war on Israel cannot be understood or accepted.
The Myth of U.S. Aid to Israel
Many pro-Palestinian activists focus on ‘American Aid to Israel ’. Mitchell G. Bard summarizes one aspect of this myth: “U.S. military aid subsidizes Israeli defense contractors at the expense of American industry.”
Traveling to college campuses in New York, taking the subways, I noticed a sign on one of the stations – ‘END U.S MILITARY AID TO ISRAEL’ – a political sign paid for by Jewish activists from the organization called ‘Two People One Future’. This group doesn’t mention U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority.
According to the U.S. State Department, in 2010 the U.S. gave 500 million dollars to the PA, making the Palestinians among the world’s largest per capita recipients of international foreign aid.
How about mentioning last year’s US – Saudi Arms deal of 60 Billion dollars building up a whole new aircraft?
They forget to mention the fact that 74 percent of American Aid to Israel is spent in the United States to generate profits and jobs. More than 1,000 companies in 46 States.
Oklahoma, is one of the States receiving many of these funds (Foreign Military Financing (FMF) ) and providing hundreds of jobs for local residents in Oklahoma City.
These facts and truth don’t mater to Israel’s critics. In fact, during my lecture on campus, in the next room there was an event organized by SJP ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ who were reading ‘poems’ written by Palestinians who claim to have witnessed the shootings of children by “settlers” armed with guns provided by America. Another myth with no basis in reality.
Noam Bedein is a photojournalist, lecturer and founder/director of Sderot Media Center. He has conducted briefings and tours for government officials, diplomats, foreign press, and students from around the world.