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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘SDEROT’

Saving Sderot – One Family at a Time

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Rockets make a funny noise when they race to their targets, people say. It’s a kind of whistle that lets you know you’ve run out of time. It’s too late to make it to a bomb shelter; better find the closest safe space and hope for the best.

People in Sderot know all about that sound, that feeling, but they tend to be very matter-of-fact about it when speaking with “outsiders” — those who have never lived under the constant threat of rocket fire. Most visitors never catch the difference in their voices, that ever-alert look in their eyes. The slightly dissociated expression on so many faces passing by in the street.

Thirteen years of constant shelling and rocket fire aimed at the city by Gaza terrorists, less than a mile away, has taken its toll on the residents of Sderot. But there is a group of young families that came to live in the city in order to blend their strength with the residents and help them heal. To stand together in the face of enemy fire.

“We never really know when the attack is going to come. We had only three seconds in the last war to reach a safe space before we heard the sound of a mortar shell or rocket landing nearby,” explains Odelia Ben-Porat,” one of the group. She is the Partnerships Manager for Afikim BaNegev, the community that created the Reut-Sderot Association, a group that has brought therapeutic and family support programs to the city.

“We’ve had rockets strike our own buildings as well,” she adds calmly, pointing to a fortification roofing that appears to shield the roof of a building framed among desert greenery. “That helped in the beginning when they first installed it – but in Gaza they have improved their technology and this no longer is enough.” So the marathon run to the bomb shelters is still mandatory. An entire city is still on the run.

Even now, in a period of “calm,” people in Sderot live in a kind of limbo, a state of suspended animation where they hold their breath waiting for the next attack, Ben-Porat says. During periods of escalation, as many as 50 missiles and mortar shells were fired at the city in one day alone.

“People live in fear. The children are raised in an atmosphere of insecurity, uncertainty and anxiety. Those families who could – usually those with better education and better finances – picked up and left. This has left Sderot without well-to-do young local volunteers and local leadership,” Ben-Porat explains.

To counter this ‘brain drain’ – and the crushing poverty that comes along with it – two decades ago 10 ambitious young families organized themselves into a core group, or “garin.” They named their little community “Afikim BaNegev” and moved to Sderot to volunteer their services in Israel’s periphery.

That was in 1993. In 2014, Afikim BaNegev has grown to 340 families.

The Reut-Sderot Association operates more than a dozen therapeutic and community support programs to help local families get back on their feet and stay there.

Among the programs run by the group are the Reut Clubhouses for At-Risk Children, which provides hot meals, social skills activities and supportive counseling five days a week. They are run by professional staff who serve 57 children ages 6-13 in four after-school centers.

Afikim BaNegev 3

Reut Sderot’s Psycho Trauma Therapy program provides expressive arts therapy such as art, dance, music and movement therapies to approximately 53 children ages 6-13 who live in “disturbing family environments” and also have been directly affected by rocket attack-related trauma. Therapy is provided by on-site creative expression therapists within the environment of larger therapeutic centers for at-risk children.

Four years ago the organization created the Young Afikim group to build up the next generation’s leadership. At present, 90 members of this group, including numerous young families, are committed to living in Sderot and revitalizing the city. They have moved into old and neglected apartment blocks in the more disadvantaged “Neve Eshkol” and “Nir Am” neighborhoods.

Afikim BaNegev 2

Following the death of a young child, a special Emergency Team trained by a clinical psychologist was also established to provide on-the-spot support in the form of crisis intervention. Ben Porat says the group is working towards being able to purchase medicine for sick children or provide financial aid for families in an emergency.

The City of Sderot and State of Israel’s Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Infrastructure (MICI) are also lending their support, particularly in providing funding and licensing to the Afikim Day Care Center, which cares for some 150 children ages 3 months to 3 years old, while their parents are at work or school.

Even in summer, when many Israeli children are forced to fend for themselves, at least 57 Sderot children most “at risk” are provided with scholarships to attend four weeks of “Bravo” Summer Camp. The project, named in honor of Steven and Irene Grossman, ensures that the children most traumatized by living “on the edge” are distracted by activities most Western children would consider to be “simply normal.”

The average Israeli teen enters the Israel Defense Forces at age 18, after completing high school. But for some teens, it’s not that simple – particularly for those who are unable to learn properly due to being repeatedly traumatized by terror attacks. Reut-Sderot’s Lapidot Preparatory College provides a project that serves 17 young women ages 18-20 from Israel’s periphery, within the framework of the compulsory National Service they serve instead of military duty. The project, based in Sderot, includes various community volunteer activities during the morning hours, and studies in the afternoons and evenings, with the girls preparing and serving their own dinners. Upon graduation the girls are encouraged to seek further academic studies and employment within their fields of interest.

Reut-Sderot also provides hundreds of needy low-income families with food and clothing vouchers at holiday time each year. As in many communities in Israel’s periphery, there are many who would otherwise be unable to celebrate the holidays with a proper meal.

The organization does not carry out all these programs alone, Ben-Porat emphasizes. “We cooperate with a number of partners and are fortunate to have the support of others as well,” she notes. Some of those include the Sderot municipality, UIA Canada, Mizrachi Canada, State of Israel government ministries and agencies, Young Israel of Woodmere, and several foundations and private donors. “New partners mean the ability to stretch our resources and help more people,” she adds. “The more people involved in our work, the more we can do.”

Odelia Ben-Porat and the Reut-Sderot Association can be reached at 972-50-672-8204, or by email at: odeliab@reut-sderot.org.il .

US Beauty Pageant Winners Uncover Media Lies in Visit to Sderot

Monday, October 6th, 2014

“If Israel had a ‘cover’ title based on what the media portrays, it would be ‘danger,’ ‘warfare,’ ‘disagreement,’ ‘pain,’ ‘death,’ ‘conflict’… and yet after just the first day I realized that this couldn’t be any further from the truth,” said Alicia Monique Blanco, Miss Arizona USA 2009.

The trip was organized by The Face of Israel organization, which offers tours for influential global figures. In Israel, the beauty queens visited all of the standard tourist destinations—like Jerusalem’s Old City, the Dead Sea, and Yad Vashem—but they also got off the beaten path with visits to the rocket-battered city of Sderot and Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.

“[Israelis] have created an exquisite, highly innovative country that provides job security, democracy, health insurance, and top-quality education to people of all religions and races. Most importantly, they value life over death,” said Kristen Dalton, Miss USA 2009.

This article was published by JNS.org as an exclusive from Israel HaYom.

White House Promised Lady Gaga She Would Be Safe in Israel

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Lady Gaga received assurances from the White House before she traveled to Tel Aviv for her performance earlier this month, she told the Associated Press in an interview.

Either she never heard of the Boycott Israel movement, a virtual impossibility, or she simply showed great political savvy by ignoring the issue when asked in the interview, “Other singers have backed out of performing in Tel Aviv. How did you make the decision to perform there this week?”

Lady Gaga didn’t miss a beat and responded as if the interviewer asked if it was safe to be in Israel only a few days after an uncertain end to the war in Gaza.

“I was very confident based on my relationships with lots of internal, political people,” she answered.” We’re very lucky to have great relationships with the White House. They let us know it would be very safe while we were there.”

Lady Gaga and President Obama have a solid political relationship based on a politician’s best friend – money.

They met at a fundraiser in 2011 where approximately 70 guests paid the privilege to attend to the tune of $38,500 per couple.

She was her usual gutsy self, having tweeted before the event that she intended to raise the issue of bullying when she would meet the president.

“I am meeting with our President. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #MakeALawForJamey,” the singer tweeted.

Obama reportedly spoke to her of his administration’s work against the practice of bullying, and he later commented that his meeting with her was a little intimidating.”

If that is the case, Israel can learn from Lady Gaga how to deal with Obama and with has become his legendary pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to toe his line.

After having performed at Obama’s second inaugural in 2012, she has an inside track to the White House.

With a war going in Gaza and missiles exploding over the skies of Tel Aviv, Lady Gaga had reservations about her life and turned to the White House for assurances, that presumably precluded any pressure by the White House on Netanyahu to stop funding for the Iron Dome anti-missile system for Israel is he did not soften up on a cease-fire.

Now we know that Lady Gaga should be Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

Np one could have spoken for Israel as well as she did after her performance. She told the Associated Press that she hoped “to share…with the world…that they know it is safe to be in Tel Aviv right now…I felt a beautiful energy when I was there.”

Next time there is a war, which is more likely to happen if and when there is a formal cease-fire with Hamas, Israel should pay Lady Gag to return for a performance in Sderot. Obama will make sure the Negev is safe, at least for a couple of hours while Lady Gaga performs.

Below are Lady Gaga’s performance at his inaugural and a spoof YouTube of a supposed rendition by Obama of her “Do What U Want.”

Govt Approves Massive Upgrade of Southern Israeli Infrastructure

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

The Cabinet on Sunday approved a proposal by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to upgrade the southern Israeli city of Sderot and its surrounds, and to build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva.

The NIS 1.3 billion five-year plan was created by a team of ministry director-generals led by PMO director Harel Locker. It is the largest and most comprehensive economic development plan ever made for the area, according to a release from the prime minister’s office.

The plan supplements the government’s July 13 decision to allocate NIS 417 million in economic benefits to the area adjacent to Gaza in 2015-2016. Approximately half of that sum is dedicated to Sderot.

“This is the largest investment that the State of Israel has ever made in this area,” Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “This is in addition to the NIS 417 million that we transferred during Operation Protective Edge. We are developing a new industrial zone in Sderot, transportation infrastructure in the area and are encouraging young people and students to move to the area adjacent to Gaza.

“We came to this country to build and to be built. We came to this part of our land in order to build and be built in it, and no one will uproot us. We will strengthen our hold and our development of this area just as in other areas,” the prime minister said.

“On Tuesday we will submit for Cabinet approval a supplement regarding an approximately NIS 2 billion in additional funds for the communities and cities of the south,” Netanyahu continued.

“In the framework of this decision, we will build a new hospital in Be’er Sheva, in addition to the hundreds of additional beds for the existing Soroka Medical Center.

“We will connect new natural gas infrastructures for the benefit of factories in the south. We will invest in initiatives to connect the Negev in the framework of the Digital Israel program.

“We will encourage small and mid-size businesses. We will develop tourism and all aspects of life, including the important ‘cyber’ aspect for all residents of the Negev, including Bedouin.

“This is a deep commitment on our part. I think that it has found expression.”

Neo-Nazi Vandalism in Sderot

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Israel Police have arrested three teens in connection with anti-Semitic vandalism involving destruction of property in the southern Israeli city of Sderot.

The gang painted green swastikas and slathered dripping red Satanic symbols on cars in the city, where residents have already been traumatized by years of incessant rocket fire from Gaza.

Police officials said in a post on the Twitter social networking site Monday morning the three suspects confessed to their connection with the attacks under questioning during the investigation.

No information was released about the identity of the suspects.

Mashaal Vows Cease-Fire a Step to New ‘Resistance’ War against Israel

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Hamas’ supreme leader Khaled Mashaal dashed any hopes of long-term peace with Israel in a speech in Qatar on Thursday in which he shot from the hip at Israel and also at his terrorist organization’s new partner, the rival Fatah movement headed by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

His lengthy speech in Qatar, which has financed Hamas terror and which fought Egyptian cease-fire proposals, followed by one day a “victory” speech by Ismail Haniyeh, the senior Hamas political leader in Gaza. Mashaal’s silence while Haniyeh accepted the cease-fire is a clear sign of a fierce power struggle between Hamas in Gaza and between Mashaal and Qatar, which holds the purse strings.

Mashaal also claimed victory, with lies that Hamas missiles hit the Ben Gurion Airport, which is not true, and that more than 5 million Israelis hid in bomb shelters, a gross exaggeration. However, there is no doubt that Hamas succeeded in scaring the daylight out of millions of Israelis, interrupting a few flights and generally turning half of Israel into sitting ducks.

And this won’t be the last time, regardless of a cease-fire, he warned.

“Whatever happened [in Gaza] is not the end to this story, and this is not the last operation to free Palestine. It was an important stop on the way to victory,” Mashaal declared.

His speech threw every obstacle possible on the road to negotiations with Israel. The talks are supposed to begin in a month, leaving open the possibility, or probability, that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is carrying on secret negotiations that will be formalized in 30 days.

The Prime Minister suffered another blow to any trust that Israelis may have for him with a report on Thursday that he met secretly with Jordanian King Abdullah, and perhaps Abbas, prior to the cease-fire, circumstantial evidence that Israel negotiated under fire, contrary to Netanyahu’s promise.

If Mashaal gets his way, there won’t be any talks because one of the new powers in Gaza is slated to be Abbas, whose security forces would patrol Gaza borders, according to the Egyptian proposal. That would provide Cairo with another tactic to get rid of Hamas.

Mashaal nailed Abbas to the wall in his speech, accusing him of throwing cold water on the resumption of the intifada during the war by allowing his security forces to limit protests.

“The next operation needs to use all of the Palestinian capabilities, not just part of them,” Mashaal said. “The resistance is holy and weapons are holy. There is no such thing as a country without weapons.”

A country or not, Gaza still has at least 2,000 rockets as well as anti-tank rockets and presumably anti-aircraft missiles. It still has rocket factories, one of which was filmed in production by Hamas during one of the failed cease-fires during the war.

Netanyahu had demanded that any halt in violence would be accompanied by disarming Hamas, but this week’s cease-fire only left the issue to be put on the negotiating table, along with Hamas’s demands for a deep-sea port and an airport.

Mashaal’s speech was full of hate and crude accusations that Israel inflicted a “Holocaust” on Gaza by “destroying schools and hospitals,” which all but the most extreme anti-Israel media now know were used by Hamas as rocket launching and terrorist command centers.

“We are against what Hitler did to the Jews, and Israel committed a second Holocaust in Gaza. Israel is an embarrassment to Jews and to the entire world,” according to Mashaal.

His rhetoric was aimed at Abbas as well as Israel. If and when negotiations begin, Egypt and the United States will be on the side of Abbas, who despite his unity government with Hamas has proved politically smart by a patient and single-minded tactic of using international support to slowly but surely win concession after concession from Israel until there is nothing left to negotiate.

Sapir College Closed (Again!) Due to ‘Rain’ of Rocket Fire

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Sapir Academic College has canceled classes and exams on Wednesday due to the renewal of rocket, mortar and missile fire from Sderot.

The well-known institution, home to dramatic and other arts programs is located on the outskirts of the city of Sderot, barely a mile away from the Gaza border.

The institution said it would keep students informed as to when classes will resume. It is not yet clear how and when class time and exams will be made up.

On August 8, 2014, the director of the college, 71-year-old Dr. Nachmi Paz was wounded during a rocket attack when he was unable to make it to a safe space in time. A house in Sderot sustained a direct hit during the same barrage of Qassam rockets fired by Gaza terrorists that day.

When is “enough,” truly enough?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/sapir-college-closed-again-due-to-rain-of-rocket-fire/2014/08/20/

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