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By Rhonda Spivak

These days there aren’t too many people moving to Sderot, the small Israeli city of less than 20,000 people that borders the Gaza Strip.
But Noam Bedein [whose father David Bedein is the Middle East correspondent for the Winnipeg Jewish Review] is a remarkable exception.  The younger Bedein voluntarily moved to Sderot three years ago, for one specific purpose- to tell the world the Israeli side of the conflict with Hamas. 

Bedein, is the founder and director of the Sderot Media center, the only non-profit Israeli media organization on the Gaza border which “tries to tell the world the human story of Sderot.”

He was in Winnipeg on January 13-14 where he spoke to students on campus sponsored by JSA/Hillel, and also spoke to leadership of the Jewish Federation here.


Bedien was one of six Israeli civilians who testified in Geneva before the Goldstone Commission probing the conflict in Gaza last year.


Mr. Goldstone

 “I became well known for the fact that  Goldstone actually fell asleep  in front of me while I  showed  raw video clips of  children in Sderot fleeing for their lives  from [Hamas] rockets  [after hearing a  Color Red warning siren]…,” Bedien said.

Bedein noted that for years the world did nothing to stop Palestinian terrorists from firing  rockets on the beleaguered town of Sderot, and the UN did nothing about it.

Bedein added that “Sderot is the only place in the world having rockets fired at it regularly and somehow this has become acceptable...In the last three years I have experienced over 3000 rockets that have hit my town...Now I ask you what would any other democracy in the world do if that was happening to them?."

Bedein warned of Hamas's ability to target central Israel in the future.

As he said,“What has happened to Sderot could happen to the vast majority of Israelis.  We now have Iran in Sderot’s back yard. It has become confirmed that Hamas now has the missile capability to fire rockets all the way to Tel Aviv. One and a half months ago, Hamas did tests on rockets that can travel 60 kilometres.”

Bedein explained what it has been like to live in Sderot on a daily basis.

“I try to explain to people what it is like when you hear a Color Red rocket warning siren (Tzevah  Adom”), and you have 15 seconds to  find a bomb shelter…how you have that shock…how you drive  all the time  turning down the radio, and keeping the windows down so you can hear the early warning siren,  how you keep your seatbelt off so you can jump out of the car if you have to,” he said.

Bedein emphasized that according to Israel’s air force commander, “97% of rockets [fired by Hamas] on Israel are fired from civilian areas in Gaza.”

In his presentation, Bedein showed  images of mosques being hit during last years's conflcit in Gaza that were televised in the Arab world, "to inflame passions" on the Arab street against Israel.

He explained that what those images don’t say is that “of the 700 mosques in Gaza, 600 are controlled by Hamas, and Hamas has turned them into warehouses for stockpiling weapons for terror.”

He asked, “Why is it that we [Israel] were under threat after we disengaged from Gaza?"

Bedein also noted that Hamas refers to Sderot as being the Palestinian village of Najd. In the 1948 Israel War of Independence, where the Arab states attacked Israel, the Palestinian Arab village of Najd was taken over by Jewish soldiers from the Negev Brigade. In 1951 Sderot was built over village lands.  By referring to Sderot as Najd, Hamas and others are advancing a claim to territory in pre-67 Israel, and denying Israel’s right to exist.

Since Israel unilaterally disengaged from Gaza, many Israelis have left Sderot, unable to cope with the ongoing Hamas rocket attacks. At the end of 2006, Sderot had a total population of approximately 19,000 people.  But the population has dropped by about 25%.

Bedein pointed out that in 2009 alone The Sderot Media Centre hosted over 2000 visitors from around the world in making Israel’s case to protect its citizens from rocket fire. Of these 2000 visitors, 60% were students, 20% were foreign media, and 20% were religious organizations, humanitarian groups, politicians and diplomats.

The Sderot Media Center operates the Sderot Community Treatment Theater project which enables traumatized Sderot children to express themselves through theatre. The children will perform the theatre throughout different cities in Israel, and their play is being translated into English as a powerful way of showing the human story of Sderot to audiences outside of Israel.  The theatre project is funded solely by private donations.

Anyone interested in making a donation to the Sderot Media Center/Theatre Project may contact the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.