October 2010 was my fifth tour of college campuses in the United States. This tour was facilitated by CAMERA and the ZOA.
It has been ten years since Qassam rockets started raining down on Sderot and the Western Negev, and almost five years since I moved to Sderot.
For the first time, a visit to U.S.has left me somewhat shaken.
The scene: A standard campus presentation at the University of Texas, in Austin.
I had never been to Austin before but had heard about the Texas State Capital and its blend of 19th and 21st Century architecture, Universities, high-tech industries, with rolling hills and forests surrounding the city that, according to a friend in Israel who once lived there, are remarkably similar to the hills and forests that I travel from Sderot to Gush Etzion and Hebron.
The campus event was titled ‘Iran in Sderot’s backyard’. The presentation focused on the human side of the story, relating the daily reality of living in Sderot under the constant threat of aerial attacks from Gaza.
My talk concentrated on the the two years since ‘Cast Lead’, the massive build up of bomb shelters, and the moral dilemma of fighting terrorists who launch their rockets from behind the collective human shield of Gaza’s civilian population.
Stills from pro-Palestinian video showing Noam Bedein, Director of Sderot Media Center, transforming from a Human Being into a Jewish Demon
Entering the building on the Austin campus where the presentation was set, I was met by a number of pro-Palestinian protesters holding signs reading NO OCCUPATION = NO ROCKETS, How is Gaza not like Warsaw?, and 1417 Palestinian killed in Gaza vs 13 Israelis.
It isn’t the first time I’ve encountered protesters demonstrating against me just because I’m Israeli Zionist. In Austin, the protesters would enter the auditorium and try to provoke me with demonizing questions and comments they attempted to disguise under the slogan “We want to open a dialogue”.
I wish they had been sincere about wanting a fact-based discussion, but unfortunately this was not the case.
After four years of public speaking for Sderot and for Israel, I am not afraid of genuine dialogue and debate and know how to answer the distortions and misrepresentations of the Palestinian-Gaza Narrative.
However, this time, no one wanted to dialogue. This was the first time that I was called a ‘Zionist propagandist‘ and where I was literally turned into a demon by the University of Texas representative of the pro-Palestinian PSC (Palestine Solidarity Committee).
The PSC representative filmed my Sderot audiovisual presentation, and pared it down into two 9-minute videos, showing their protests against my appearance on campus and disfiguring my face from a normal human being into something of a monstrous demon, with glowing red eyes. Not one word from the actual presentation appears in the video. Take a look at this video:
Students in Austin made a video response:
I was born in Israel, served in the IDF, and have been working as a photojournalist since 2006. This was my first encounter with virile antisemitism, meted out by Palestinian protesters in Austin.
Such an experience gives me a deeper connection to Jewish history, making me aware that there really are evil forces in every generation who work to destroy us, exactly as the Passover song, Vehi She’amda, says: But in every generation there have been those who have stood against us to wipe us out, and the Holy One, Blessed Be He, saves us from their hands.
The Austin experience should not come as any surprise; it was bound to happen. Elsewhere on US campuses, visiting Israeli soldiers are called fascists and war criminals.
At the University of Michigan, an Israeli soldier, invited to talk about his experiences, watched the entire audience leave the lecture room in a planned protest, simply because an IDF soldier was speaking. Instead of a dialog, he found himself alone, with no audience:
What is most bothersome in this tour was realizing that the majority of well-educated college students have never even heard about Sderot, let alone the ten years that witnessed 12,000 Gaza attacks on the civilian population of Sderot and the Western Negev, and the continuing trauma wrought on the residents of the area., affecting children as young as three years old.
The plight of Sderot and the Western Negev residents represents a grotesque injustice, and clear violation of the human rights, yet it has been downplayed by the mainstream media, UN, EU, and Non-Government “humanitarian” organizations.
After this recent experience, I am more determined than ever to continue speaking about a reality that the world may want to ignore or to dismiss as irrelevant.
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.
Re: the Michigan incident, It won’t be PC what I say, but just seriously for a moment before we lose our head in total rage and disgust. Half sarcastically: have you seen the vid yourself? No need to worry I think. One can clearly see that 90 per cent – at minimum! – of these cr**ps were Asian, Arabs, Muslims etc. and their mindless, ignorant two-bit personality allies. I actually expected much worse. Cause I know if they had been reasonable and rational students and they walked out, that’s what would easily have been a catastrophy in my opinion. These jerks were none of the kind. What Stand with Us is a tremendously valuable organisation doing essential and admirable work in general, I can’t help thinking that the organisation of this were not perfect. One simply MUST at all costs those places where one might suspect that the institution in question is a far-leftist anti-Semetic Arabist Islamist hellhole. Even I here in Budapest, Hungary know that Michigan Ann Arbor is a crap, 3rd world junk in terms of its "University". Perhaps we could sense the reception of a lecture/talk on a University if there is absolutely no or no positive feedback prior to the event. I think we should just sniff this out, talk to students, even faculty etc. etc. I believe that we simply have to be more circumspect in choosing the right (or less dangerous/worthless places).
But I admit of course, one cannot go absolutely sure.
In the end, I think it was theese Muslim-Arab-Stalinist idiots who discredited themselves before an honest and neutral listener/observer and not the soldier. No wonder that there is virtually not one pro-Isareli comment on the threads – naturally they censor them all.
Meanwhile you are owed a only thanks and appreciation and respect for the courageous and invaluable work and effort you put into these University lectures.
It breaks my heart to see this. It’s disgusting to see how they display you guys. So incredibly unprofessional, especially when considering that these people are uni students. Really, I didn’t think it would be this bad.
Bless those who stayed with the soldier and who defended Israel against her enemies. Those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse her will be cursed. G-d bless you and keep you Noam and SMC, and give you wisdom in everything you do. The G-d of Israel is with you!
PS. I guess the reason why they didn’t post a single word from your presentation is that they knew it would all make them look like fools (as if the video itself does not…) Keep up the good work!!
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If Israel were "the problem", then islamists would be living in peace with their non-Israeli, non-Zionist neighbors. Is that the case? Are islamists leading peaceful, civilized lives?
– 8 year iraq/iran war
– islamofascist regime of iran using children to clear mine fields
– honor killings of Muslim girls
– mutilation of Muslim girls as depicted on the cover of the 8/4/10 issue of Time magazine
– Beslan school massacre
– Beltway sniper john muhammed
– 7/7/05 bus and underground bombings in London
– bombing of Pan Am 103
– craven behavior of the uk, releasing one of the bombers of Pan Am 103 for libyan oil contracts – see http://www.boycottscotland.com
– Bali bombing
– Mumbai India massacre
– Fort Hood massacre
– Madrid bombings
– current day slavery in Sudan and Mauritania
– hijacking of the country of Lebanon by syria and iranian fascists
– execution of gay teens in Iran by the iranian regme
– Luxor Egypt massacre
– attacks on ethnic Chinese living in indonesia
– racism against the Coptic Christians in Egypt
– genocidal threats against Israel by the islamofascist regime of iran
– grand mufti of Jerusalem alliance with nazi Germany
– prohibition of open display of non-Muslim religious faith in Saudi Arabia
– prohibition of non-Muslims to set foot in mecca
– muhammed cartoon riots
There’s lots more that you can find with a simple search.
Clearly the problem is NOT with Israel but rather with islamofascism, world-wide jihad.
You received shocking treatment. It is a sad day indeed that University students in America attempt to shut-down legitimate discourse and are – in effect – supported in such action by passive administrations and police services. You exhibited remarkable restraint and outstanding intellectual courage by not lowering yourself to the base level of your opponents. That was truly commendable and in doing so – you won the debate.
Israel is not the problem…Saudi Arabia has contributed much money to College campuses, thus influencing greatly the thinking of the students. Why are we letting them take over our Children and poison them. Like everything else we are asleep or have our head in the sand. Some speakers have had to have police escorts. At this rate we will become a Muslim nation.