Many people come to the Sderot Media Centre to be given a first hand insight into the impact of the 8 years of “rocket reality” in the Western Negev; journalists, film-makers, diplomats, politicians, presidents and prime ministers. However, this week, in a slight departure from the usual visitor, the “Joe the Plumber” straight-talking club hit town harder than a Qassam! Joe visited Sderot with the Government Press Office director, Danny Seaman.
Samuel Wurzelbacher, aka Joe the Plumber, hit the headlines during the US presidential election for giving it straight to Barak Obama on his tax policies. Now it seems he has a new role of reporting on the world’s affairs for the world’s “Average Joes” – people who want it said straight “I want the average American Joes to understand the story here from the point of view of someone like them,” he said.
And Joe is angry! Having had a tour of Sderot by Noam Bedein, Director of the Sderot Media Centre, seeing some of the surrounding areas and having spoken to some of the residents of the area, he is very angry. He is angry at what has been happening here for the past eight years, he is angry at what innocent citizens have had to endure, he is angry at the way the world condemns the actions of a democratic state in defending its citizens, he is angry at the Israeli Government for waiting so long before taking action and he is angry with the way the media has covered the story.
So angry that when he got his opportunity, surrounded by the world’s press on a hill overlooking Gaza, he took the opportunity to remind them that the reporting needs to properly reflect the situation here, that this isn’t just a story about the problems the Palestinians in Gaza face. This is a story, about more than 1 million Israelis, trying to go about their daily peaceful existence under constant fear of rocket attack. “I know if I were a citizen here, I’d be damned upset.” He commented. “I’m a peace loving man, but when someone hits me, I’m going to unload on the boy. And if the rest of the world doesn’t understand that, then I’m sorry.”
Wurzelbacher, in true Average Joe style immediately got the daily difficulties of living in the region “The people of Sderot can’t do normal things day to day, for fear a rocket might come in, I’m sure they’re taking quick showers. I know I would.”
Wurzelbacher was visibly impressed with the local insights that Noam Bedein and his team at the Sderot Media Centre were able to provide him. “I don’t care if you are a president of a country or an Average Joe – we will welcome anyone here in Sderot who has a genuine desire to really understand the devastating impact of living in fear of missile attack.” Said Bedein. Wurzelbacher was also keen to stress that the important community projects run to help children and adults with post-traumatic stress disorder need urgent support and financing to keep them running and hopes that people will continue to give the assistance that is so badly needed.