Friday, February 6, 2009

They listened to me!

Check out this article - UNRWA supsends Gaza aid after Hamas steals supplies

And this is being covered by international news agencies as well.

So here's the story. 

As soon as the UN aid - over 200 tons of grain, flour, etc - made its way through the Kerem Shalom Crossing from Israel into Gaza on Thursday, it was seized by trucks contracted by the Hamas Ministry of Social Affairs.

Are we seeing the emergence of the ruthless, Islamist, terrorist version of Robin Hood?

Hamas claims that the UN was distributing aid to their "enemies", and was being political in their actions, and therefore they needed to change the situation on the ground. 

This incident, which is the second time Hamas has jacked UN this week, is not a new trend. They love to take, take, take.

Nuaf Atar, a Fatah operative captured during last month's war in Gaza, told the Israeli Shin Bet (Security Agency) that the Hamas govenrment confiscated humanitarian aid Israel allowed into the strip during Operation Cast Lead, and sold it, when it was intended for all of Gaza at no price. (Jerusalem Post article)

Israel, which took a 3 hour ceasefire during the war each day in order to allow aid into the strip, the place where terrorists launched rockets in the direction of one million innocent Israeli Muslims and Jews, has been blamed for the humanitarian issues in Gaza, when in fact, Hamas had been preventing the aid from getting to innocent Palestinians the whole time.

Ummm, so who is at fault for Gaza's woes? 

According to the Jerusalem Post, "Officials in Jerusalem said the announcement by UNRWA constituted a UN approval and confirmation of Israel's position, that Hamas is using the Palestinian population in gaza "cruelly and cynically" and is solely responsible for hardship there."

Finally, the U.N gets it! 

Their actions say something, but now lets put it into words. 

Let's see the security council come out with a resolution against Hamas brutality in the Gaza Strip, and blame who is really responsibly for the "humanitarian crisis" in Gaza. 

Furthermore, I'd like to see the "moderate" leaders of the Arab World and their friends in Europe condemn Hamas for the hardship in Gaza.

So in short, those in the world - especially Turksih Prime Minister Edrogan (ucch this Guy needs to chill, but that's a whole different story) - condemning Israel for causing a humanitarian crisis in Gaza need to shut it! 

If I screamed from the rooftops and people listened, this is what I would say, "Can someone important with a lot of power and world influence communicate to his or her important powerful friends that Hamas steals from their own people, makes money off of their crimes, and then they get away with it because everyone is wrongfully blaming Israel's "blockade" and "occupation". 

If only my mom were not the only person who thinks I'm an important, powerful person with a lot of influence...

Monday, February 2, 2009

UNRWA - the problem, not the solution

In the recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East) came to our attention when the IDF struck an UN school after Hamas terrorists hiding amongst the civilians seeking shelter in the school fired mortars at Israeli forces. 

According a report I read, the Hamas dudes had been holding the women and children in the school hostage - what a surprise, terrorists using human shields against Israel!

There is precedent for Hamas doing this. Look at this video from October 2007 of terrorists launching mortars from a UN school. 

On the other hand, UNWRA's man in charge in Gaza declared that there is no evidence of Hamas using his school to hide, or do any other of the shady/scandalous/terroristy things that they do. 

If that's what Mr. UNWRA has to say, then it's obviously true. 

Of course, Israel was not attacked by terrorists from the school because how could bad guys be hiding in an UN area - the UN is not biased and does not overwhelmingly support one side in this conflict right? And as the video you see above, they've never done it before...

Ok, well, what exactly is UNRWA? 

Established by the United Nations in December 1949, their aim is "to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees." Furthermore,  "In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2011" (

The description on the founding of the group reads (

"UNRWA is unique in terms of its long-standing commitment to one group of refugees and its contributions to the welfare and human development of four generations of Palestine refugees."

Four generations of Palestinian refugees...Are you kidding me?!?! Over sixty years later, and children being born today in Gaza are still classified as refugees? Their families have been living there for four generations! 

Why shouldn't they be classified as refugees? Well, let's take a look at how other UN agencies classify refugees. 

"Unlike the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, which deals with the rest of the world's refugees and aims to settle them in their respective host countries, UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian problem by classifying as refugees not only those who originally fled their homes, but all of their descendents as well," says Gunnar Heinsohn in his recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece on UNRWA's perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem (

Check out the U.N High Commission for Refugees definition of refugee status -

UNRWA has never tried to encourage the development of the Palestinian economy or civil society. How do I know this? Look at these simple facts posted on the UNWRA website.

- 750,000 Gazans rely on UNRWA Food Aid

- 200,000 children attend 221 UNRWA schools throughout Gaza. 

Half of Gaza relies on the U.N. Yikes! What if the U.N actually tried to help Gaza develop its economy and society? I got an idea of how they can do that. 

Why doesn't UNRWA say that by the end of the year, it will begin to slowly end its aid for those newborns in the Gaza Strip, and stop classifying the fourth generation as refugees. This would eventually ween the Palestinian population from relying on aid. They could even coordinate with the Gazan government to encourage civil society and economic development. Maybe they could even pressure those in charge a little bit to invest in infrastructure, the economy, you know, jobs for their people, instead of rockets, booby trapping their neighborhoods, and building tunnels to smuggle really bad stuff from really bad people in Iran.  

Oh wait, who's in charge? Right, a terrorist organization. Crud! UNRWA sees it fit to make the problem worse in Gaza. Let's see how they do this.

As Heinsohn explains, "Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a martyr's death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could be taking up arms within the coming 15 years...The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East."

And what are these youth doing? They fight. If they're not launching rockets at Israel, they're killing each other. Remember, it was only two years ago when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup against their "pragmatic" Fatah rivals, 300 Palestinian dead and 1,000 wounded later.

In short, because these men have no reason to get a job because they're given everything by the UN, they have nothing else to do, so what's better than guns, rockets, more guns, and well...more rockets. 

I guess in Gaza they have a different reason why there are no jobs. 

In America and the rest of the world, this thing called the financial crisis has been kind of messing things up. 

But in Gaza, well they got the United Nations making sure young men are jobless, rely on "food stamps" and turn to terrorism as a means to salvation. 

Good going guys, keep up the good work!

Keep ruining hopes for peace for many generations to come! 

Monday, January 19, 2009

I just returned from a two week visit to Israel. I spent my last weekend in Sderot and the Western Negev. One year out from volunteering in Sderot, I have written this piece on the international media's lack of context in covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Get the Story Right!

Hundreds of journalists from all over the world just left Sderot and the surrounding areas covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Where were they one year ago? Where were they four years ago, eight years ago? I spent six weeks volunteering in Sderot exactly one year ago, and I can tell you, the journalists were no where to be found. 

(Look at the little 
village they had overlooking Gaza)

Unfortunately for Israel, it took eight years for the international community to understand that innocent civilians in a western democracy live daily under the current threat of rocket fire. During this time, the range of the threat expanded from a tens of thousands to over one million innocent Jewish and Muslim Israeli citizens.

In these eight years, has the UN Security Council ever condemned nearly a decade of rocket fire on innocent civilians of one of its member
states, Hamas’ use of human shields, and its use of schools, hospitals, and Mosques to store and launch rockets at Israel?

Are you laughing at me for even thinking to ask such a question? Well you should be, because 
why would anyone assume the international community to be, um, sensible?

Maybe they could be just a little rational? Nah, that’s just too silly!

Furthermore, has any news organization mentioned the fact Israel is the only western democracy in the entire world that has a significant – let alone any – part of its population
living under the threat of daily
rocket fire?

“Oh it’s just Israel, who cares right?” “They can take it?” Or rather, “Maybe they deserve it, right?”  

Well you know what I have to say that...


I’d also like to thank the international media for providing ZERO context for the humanitarian issues of the Palestinian people.

Let me describe to you a little bit of Israel’s commitment to helping the Palestinians suffering from the wrath of their authoritarian, fanatical terrorist rulers, Hamas.

From the beginning of Operation Cast Lead, December 27, 2008, until January 12, 2009:

- 926 truckloads (22,046 tons) of humanitarian aid were delivered to Gaza

- 449 dual nationals were evacuated from Gaza

- 3000 units of blood were donated by Jordan and transferred into Gaza

- 5 ambulances were donated by Turkey and transferred into Gaza

- 5 ambulances were transferred from the West Bank to Gaza on behalf of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society

- 34 people were evacuated to Israel for medical needs

On Jan. 7, 2009, the IDF decided it would ceasefire for three hours each day in order to let humanitarian aid reach civilians in the Gaza Strip.

I love when this gets mentioned, and they say three hours is simply not enough. So, Israel should stop defending its civilians all together, fully commit itself to giving aid to the other side, and allow terrorists to fire rockets at it and threaten one million of its population?

Do you find it a tad bit odd that Israel is forced not only to defend its own citizens, but those of its enemies as well? Well I don’t…I mean, isn’t every western democracy supposed to do that during wars? Duh!

I got a question for you Mr. and Mrs. International Media.

Israel is the bad guy? Are you kidding me!

What does Hamas do for Israeli civilians? Oh yeah, they’ve been terrorizing them with rockets for the last eight years!

What other country, when immersed in a full scale war, commits itself to providing humanitarian aid to their enemy? Oh yeah, Russia!

Did you know Hamas is also really nice to their innocent women and children? Yes you did, because that’s what you would assume from watching the news over the last few weeks. 

However, a Palestinian child from Gaza describes how Hamas use children for combat support missions:

We the children, in small groups and in civilian clothes, are fulfilling missions of support for the [Hamas] Resistance fighters, by transmitting messages about the movements of the enemy forces, or by bringing them ammunition and food. We ourselves are not aware of the movements of the Resistance fighters. We see them in one place, they suddenly disappear, and then reappear somewhere else. They are like ghosts, it is very hard to find them (Palestinian Media Watch Communique, Jan. 13, 2009).

So Hamas terrorists hide behind children. Hmm, headline story anyone?

I got an even better quote for you – this coming from a high up British dude in the U.K Military.

Colonel Richard Kemp CBE, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, on the current situation in Gaza.

Despite Israel’s extraordinary measures a tragically high number of innocent civilians have been killed and wounded. That is the inevitability of Hamas’ way of fighting. Avoiding civilian casualties when fighting among the people is always difficult. When combating an enemy that uses human shields it is impossible (BICOM briefing: "Gaza Situation Update," Jan. 10, 2009).

Thank you Colonel. Only if the BBC would listen to their fellow compatriot…If they only understood that Hamas attacks Israeli civilians with lethal - not home made - rockets (with a range of over 25 KM) shipped from Iran.  If they only reported that Hamas fighters hide behind children and women, and use schools and mosques as launching points to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.  If they provided the proper analysis, they would explain that when Israel does not respond to Hamas rocket fire, the terrorists succeed in making it nearly impossible for
one million Muslims and Jewish Israeli civilians,or nearly 1/7 of Israel’s population, to live with any sense of normalcy. They would also point out that if Israel responds than Hamas also wins because it launches rockets from civilian areas, and its fighters wear civilian clothing and place themselves within towns and villages, thus putting at risk thousands of innocent Palestinians, of which Israel is blamed for any harm done to them, and the international community therefore condemns Israel and pressures her to stop its defense of its own innocent population. 

As a result, whether Israel responds or does not respond to terrorist rocket fire, it is a win-win situation for Hamas.

Unfortunately, as Alan Dershowitz succinctly puts it, "Until the world recognizes that Hamas is committing three war crimes - targeting Israeli civilians, using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and seeking the destruction of a member-state of the UN - and that Israel is acting in self-defense and out of military necessity, the conflict will continue" (Alan Dershowitz, "An Honorouble Warrior," The Australian,,25197,24866318-7583,00.html). 

Do you think the International Community or Media will ever understand the true roots of the conflict between Israel and Hamas?Do you think they will ever get the fact that its Hamas' use of human shields, their targeting of Israeli, and even their own civilians, and their commitment to destroying Israel that is the main impediment to peace in Gaza today? Well, as Borat would so articulately  proclaim... 


In short, my return to Sderot this past week proved to me that people still don’t get it. For some reason Israel is the bad guy, and the dudes firing rockets and endangering the lives of one million innocent Muslims and Jewish Israeli civilians are the victims.

Go figure…

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bye Sderot

My flight to England (where I'm going to study this upcoming semester) boards in 10 minutes. I've officially left Sderot for now (much to my parent's happiness), but there's no doubt in my mind, I will be back.

I dreamt last night of Qassams; thought I heard a boom as I woke up. The alerts in the airport as you wait for security sound like the alert before the "Tzevah Adom" sounds. I wonder how long it will take for me to forget the daily booms and alerts that were apart of my life for the last month. I wonder, will I ever?

Sderot will always be with me in my heart, and it should be for you too. My plight to help the people down there has only begun, for now I'm ready to engage the world, to spread the word of the constant horror and terror of life in Sderot.

In the coming week, I'm starting a blog with a Palestinian student at George Mason University (20 minutes from GW, my university in the states) workings as a freelance journalist in Nablus and Tehran for the next six months. We will discuss our opinions regarding our opinions of current events in the Middle East. Should be feisty, should be interesting, wouldn't you say.

I'll update you when the time comes.

That's all for now. Got to get to my flight.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hip-Hop Superstar

Today I went to the hip-hop dance class for 10-12 year olds in Sderot. Not only was I the only high school graduate in the class (besides the teacher), I was the only boy.

As many of my good friends at home - including my wonderful 18 year-old sister, Gaby - are hip-hop stars, I was pretty familiar with the dance moves. See below – I’m rocking out (focus on the last 15 seconds, really see the extent of my skills).

The dance studio looks like it could be from L.A. Mirrors, rails on the side of the room (for ballet?), hardwood floors, a sweet stereo – it’s got it all. I could see Britney in the 90’s using this facitily to practice her moves before the Oopps I Did it Again music video.

In the studio, an alarm goes off when “Tzevah Adom” occurs, and the class runs to the shelter near by. That withstanding, dance class seems to be the greatest escape from the constant sound of “Tzevah Adom” and the daily landing of Qassam rockets into the city. You’re completely isolated from the terrifying reality that is daily life in Sderot.

The teacher, Maytal Siani, studies hip-hop in a major studio in Tel Aviv. She, however, lives with her family in Sderot, where she grew up to love dance, and is currently giving back to the current generation of kids growing up who don’t know life without Qassams.

For one hour a day, twice a week, these girls come to learn the basics of hip-hop dance. In Sderot, young girls are learning to dance to the sound of Beyonce, Justin, 50 Cent and all the other greatest musical artists of our time.

I wonder if Hamas permits hip-hop classes to dance to American hip-hop…actually, I don’t think hip-hop’s made it to Gaza yet – now that’s a humanitarian crisis if you ask me. But what do I know? I was just on CNN (laugh with me).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Regards from Gaza!

Today I met Nicol Alchazov, a Russian immigrant to Sderot over 13 years ago. She was in the firefighters unit in the army, and upon her withdrawal, was admitted to be tested to be the first firewoman in Israel (that year Israel decided women could be firefighters). According to Nicol, two of the four women had what they call in Israel - "protexia" (connections) - so she didn't get the job.

A few years after the army, she became a manager in a textiles factory in Sderot. One of the owners of the factory is Palestinian and the other is Jewish. Before the disengagement, seven of the workers there were Palestinian. Nicol made friends with the Palestinian workers and still keeps in touch with one today.

Here's what's really interesting:

The Palestinian owner's brother - who lives in Gaza - calls Nicol to see how she's doing on days when lots of Qassams land in Sderot.

How crazy is that? Someone from Gaza calls a friend in Sderot to see how she's doing from the rockets fired a few villages from him...insane!

I asked Nicol to call her friend in Gaza to see if it's okay with him if I give him a call to see what's up. Wouldn't that be cool - talk to someone in Gaza. No, I haven't become a crazy lefty. I just think it would be pretty sweet to make a friend in Gaza, wouldn't you?

Monday, December 31, 2007

The Kassam Hair Style

Shimon Bouskila, also known as Shupan, grew up in Sderot and has been a hairstylist for twenty-three years. Five years ago, a Kassam rocket landed right in front of his barbershop, breaking the glass windows and causing damage to his shop. He was the first person to see the Kassam and as soon as he laid eyes on the rocket, the idea came to him –the “Kassam hair-due”.

Free of charge, anyone can get Shupan’s specialty. He said besides the time he did the hair-due for a local model, one person asked him to give him “the Kassam” for a costume in celebration of the Jewish holiday Purim (customary to dress up for this holiday).

Shupan doesn’t stop with the Kassams. He can also fashion your hair into a Menorah and a Shofar, the trumpet-like biblical instrument made form a ram’s horn. Shupan also did a promotional hair-due for the German based hair product company, Wella. The Sderot hairstylist uses Israeli supermodels to show off his specialties, with Miri Boadana pictured with the Menorah.

Shupan is also the personal barber of former Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz. Every three to four weeks, Shupan gives Mr. Peretz a hair cut at the Knesset member’s home. Amir Peretz’s daughter is also featured in a picture of nine girls with hair shaped like candles, standing in a formation forming a Menorah.

In 1995, Shupan won an international hairstylist tournament in Europe, the last year of such a competition. Shupan is the father of two teenage daughters and one son, who works in New York as a hairstylist and aspires to open a barbershop just like his father.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

David Beckham in Sderot

After the presentation with the WUJS (talked about it in prior entry), I saw some kids outside the cinema playing soccer (futbol). I've never really enjoyed the sport, you know, it's for Europeans. That withstanding, I still joined on in and played a little.

I got in the action, starting kicking the ball around. Then I proposed an idea to the kids. Let's play a game. And of course the 11 year olds were like, hell ya we want to play a game.

This was the game.

I was the goalie. Each player (11 year old kid) got three penalty shots on me in goal. Whoever made the most - obviously - would be the winner.

In 3rd grade, I was the best goalie in the Macabee League (Jewish league in L.A.) - or so I like to think. So I brought my "A" game - 110 percent baby.

I shut Shaked (one of the kids) down - 0 for 3 - sorry buddy. But the other two kids, they got one goal on me. I was just being nice though.

After the game, we just played with the ball for a while. Then I told em' I had to go. The kids asked me, "So are you coming back tomorrow?" I responded, "Same time?" In some rambled Hebrew I didn't really understand, I think they said - "Alright, your on!"

So during the presentation before I played soccer with the kids, people were arguing on what should be done to help Sderot. Many simply blamed the Israeli Government for not stopping the rocket fire, not protecting the city and calling on the government to act now to fix everything - not really offering any real solutions to what we, as caring students, could do to help.

To me, it's simple - what we as human beings, not just Israelis and diaspora Jewry, need to do.

First, spread awareness about what's going on in Sderot.

Second, just come here and hang out with the people, play with the kids. Show them we care.

So tomorrow at 5 PM, I got a soccer play date outside the Cinema.

Blue Label's on Me

Today the Sderot Media Center did a presentation for 120 students from around the world on a trip to Israel with thel World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) - great networking opportunity if you know what I mean.

We started at the police station and ended up at the Sderot Cinema to watch important videos and hear from important speakers on the situation in Sderot. We heard from Tal, one resturaunt-bar owner in the town.

She retold the story of when a Qassam landed thirty feet outside of her eatery, while she and her cook were preparing the grub an hour before opening. Someone in the audience asked:

"So what did you do right after the Qassam fell?"
Tal responded, "Drank a cup of Whiskey - relaxed - and then opened the resturaunt on time - with the broken windows and all".

Someone else asked why she opened a resturaunt-bar in Sderot. The eatery owner said people here in Sderot also have lives; they like to eat, drink, go out on dates, do things you guys do.

It's true. Why shouldn't Sderot have a bar? If the people here can go out and have a drink an hour after a Qassam lands just thirty feet from the bar, they deserve unlimited alchohol. Blue Label is on me - go ahead Sderot, drink away.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

I'm a Mensch!

Check this article out. Mentioned by the editor of the Jewish Journal - top ten mensch in L.A! Pretty sweet honor right?

Click Here:

Brave + mensch = ?

By Rob Eshman, Editor-in-Chief

Three years ago, we were sitting around our offices dreaming up an end-of-the-year issue, inundated with examples from other magazines: The Ten Best Movies, The Ten Richest Angelenos, The Ten Most Powerful Hollywood Players, The Ten Top Restaurants, The Ten Hottest Bars and et cetera.

Since these lists are both celebration and statement, we decided we wanted to promote something a little different. What if a list championed a Jewish value, not people, things or bars (not that there's anything wrong with them....)?

Thus was born The Mensch List -- a roster that, humans being human, is far more difficult to crack than one tabulating power or wealth or even cool.

But this year, after we made the list, I -- in the spirit of some holiday -- checked it twice. And there are four people missing.

These are people I've come across in 2007 who didn't make this list but who deserve some special notice of their own. That's because they are not only mensches, they are also remarkably courageous.

Funny that the Yiddish adjectives that mean "strong" and "brave" never made the jump into the modern Jewish vernacular. Somehow, schnorrer and shmendrick and ferklempt remained near and dear to our tongues, but mutik and bahartst are no more a part of our lives than Benny Leonard or Kingfish Levinsky. When great Jewish prizefighters like these went down for the count, so did the words their fans used to praise them. That leaves shtarker. But shtarker has baggage that mensch doesn't begin to carry.

I'm no Yiddishist, but to my ears, the word has always been said with a wink, the speaker already knowing that strength and health, no matter how abundant, are fleeting. To this day, when I drop my son off at a teen party, my last words aren't "Be a shtarker!" but "Be a mensch."

So I don't know what neologism will suffice for someone who is both extraordinarily brave and a mensch to boot. What word describes those Jews and non-Jews who risk their lives to stand up for the things we all believe in? This year, I found four, and I suppose their names will suffice:

Benji Davis and David Landau

These two young men packed up this year and left their comfortable lives in Los Angeles and moved to Sderot, the beleaguered Israeli town under near-constant bombardment by Qassam rockets launched by Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

Davis is a college student from Beverly Hills volunteering at an elementary school in Sderot -- there is a charmingly awkward YouTube video of him trying to folkdance with his young charges -- and at the Sderot Media Center, which tries to raise awareness of what Israelis within the Green Line are faced with every day.

"Sderot's residents deserve protection," Davis writes on his blog, "Sderot's children deserve some sense of normalcy. Sderot deserves our help.

"We can protect Sderot from the terrorists -- it's up to you."

Landau is 19. When I asked his father, Fred, why his son moved -- of all places -- to within two miles of Gaza, he said, very matter-of-factly, without a hint of boastfulness, "Because he's a Zionist." Many of Sderot's own residents have moved away, the Israeli government has for a year now struggled to come up with a response to the Qassams, Jews from Tel Aviv to Tarzana have gone about their normal lives, but Davis and Landau have chosen to risk their lives to remind us that, no, not all is milk and honey.

They're on my list.

--The article continues with some other menches...but that's good enough.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Important Presentation on Sderot

The 9th Day of Channuka

Here are pictures from the house hit by a Qassam rocket two weeks ago. All of the pictures show different Jewish Symbols, that in some miraculous way, survived the attack.

Here is an excerpt of Noam Bedein's, director of the Sderot Media Center, report of the attack.

When the Chabad Rabbi of Sderot, Chaim Pizen, viewed the damage on Mount Sinai Street in Sderot the day after the eight day holiday of Chanukah finished, he remarked, “The Miracles that we are seeing in Sderot have revealed themselves more clearly than the miracles we witnessed on Mount Sinai itself”...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

O' Canada!

Yesterday, I went to Cherna Rosenberg's house for lunch and stuff. Cherna, who lived in Israel from 1964-1984, returned from Canada to Israel in January 2006, to Sderot of all places. Yes, Cherna made Aliyah to a town safer than any gated community in the San Fernando Valley.

Cherna's grub was phenominal - I'm still stuffed! The conversation, however, was even better.

She delighted me with her candor, humor and passion. Cherna did move to Sderot so, umm, the new immigrant's got a little personality to say the least. Cherna, in her sixties, is my kind of lady- she says what's on her mind, always.

Even being the crazy Zionist that she is, her second husband of thirty years comes from the Druze population in Israel. To most people, that might seem odd, but to Cherna - it was an obvious choice. The dude loved Israel and served in the IDF - a zionist at heart- perfect match.

Her house, like many others in Sderot, is not protected from Qassam rockets. If you don't have protection, they say you should go to a room without windows to protect yourself from the shrapnal. But all of the rooms in Cherna's cute house have windows. Uh-oh.

Cherna moved to Sderot to lives two doors down from her daughter and grandkids. She made it seem so matter of fact she moved to Sderot - to her, if given the opportunity, wouldn't anyone pick up and move to be neighbors with their child and grandchildren?

For most people, it would probably depend on whether rockets were falling from the sky on a daily basis. That being the status quo in Sderot, I'd say it's not the norm to retire in Sderot. But when you got the passion and belief of Cherna Rosenberg, it's a no brainer.

Video of Qassam attack taken on my camera

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Stop Rocketing the Beer Factories, Idiots!

Yesterday was my first day back in Sderot since the Qassam attack on Thursday. I convinced my good friend David Lawrence Abraham to come down with me; I wanted to give him a tour – my first one!

As soon as we arrived into town, we headed directly to the police station. There we met these two young guys from New York (still a few years older than me), who just so happened to stop in Sderot (of all places) on their way to enjoying stuff, foreign to the western Negev, in Eilat.

I gave em’ a quick run down on Qassam rockets: what the different colors mean, their impact, how many are launched – all the good stuff. We go outside, and they ask me “so where should we go in Sderot, seems like a happening town” (it went something like that, they were pretty funny), and I’m like, “Yo, I’ll take you around, got a car?”

Knowing I needed to pick up my laundry and get a ride for David and I to Kibbutz Saad (where we were going for the afternoon), it was the perfect situation. Ari and Adam, the guys from New York, got a sick tour from the best tour guide in the Middle East, and David and I got hooked up with a ride.

After the police station, we headed over to the house severely damaged by a Qassam rocket nearly two weeks ago. It was really cool to see their reaction to what’s going on in Sderot; it showed there are people who care about this place.

But seriously, who stops in Sderot on their way to Eilat? Are you trying to ruin your day? It was awesome though, come back guys – beers are on me.

Something to note, one of the first things Ari and Adam said was, “Didn’t the terrorists hit the Carlesberg factory with a rocket – seriously, what the hell is wrong with them?” True that.

We then went to an outpost overlooking northern Gaza. Ari took his shirt off to prove to his friends he got “some rays” while in Israel, and I proceeded to explain them what’s going on in the happiest place on earth.

Where we were, you could see Beit Hanoun – the village from where the majority of Qassam rockets are launched on Israel – the Jebaliyeh refugee camp – a hotbed of pretty intense terrorist activity – and the home of the greatest economic center in the world – Gaza City!

If we went at a good time – between 6:30 and 9:00 AM – we may have seen one of those cute little terrorists launch a Qassam rocket. How sweet would have that been? Better than being on the news? Hmm, maybe I would have been on the news again (I got to get over myself).

I also showed them that there is a white, Israeli blimp flying over Gaza taking pictures of the area making sure no fishy activities are going down. Well – just things that are fishier than terrorists launching rockets on civilian populations, that’s not that bad. Here's a picture of Beit Hanoun - rockets are launched from here daily, yikes!

After doing the Gaza Strip, Ari, Adam, my boy D. Abraham and I went to Kibbutz Saad for lunch. Yesterday really rocked. Here's a picture of Ari, Adam and I with the Gaza Strip in the background.

Even after this past crazy week of CNN and “Hi Benji, I think I saw you on the news”, taking Ari, Adam and David around made me feel I’ve accomplished some good things over the last month. Showing these guys what’s going on in Sderot, and that more people need to know about this place, was one of the better things I’ve done while being in Sderot.

So I hope I run into some more people at the police station, but next time, maybe some cute girls instead. Seems like the best place to socialize in Sderot because if conversation ever gets awkward, you can just say, “Yo, don’t you like the coloring of the green and red rocket as opposed to yellow and red ones?” Those comments never get old…

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Spreading the Word About Sderot

The video taken on my camera of the Qassam attack has circulated all over the world the last few days. Numerous people wrote on my facebook wall, "I was just sitting around and then, wow, Benji Davis, you're on CNN". Yah, that was pretty cool.

But in all honesty, it's not important that I was on CNN, as long as my message was clear - there's a big problem in Sderot needing fixing.

The segment of my video of the Qassam attack was headlined on national Israeli news on Channel Two at six, eight and twelve o'clock. Here's the piece.

Also, at 9: 30 of the night of the attack, Channel Two called me and asked to come in for an interview during the 7:00 morning news. So, I didn't sleep that night, and took a 5:30 cab from Jerusalem (where I was at the time) to Herzliyeh (where the studios are). Yes, the interview was all in Hebrew - the billions of dollars my parents spent on my Jewish education did go somewhere after all.

Here's the link of my interview on Channel Two morning news. Click here(My interview starts at 7: 07 you'll figure it out). FYI - apple users might have trouble, good luck.

My video of the Qassam Attack is also featured on the Israel Foreign Ministry web site - click here - and by Newsblaze, a wire service for journalists across the globe - click here for Newzblaze story.

I'm telling you all this to show you the power of one raw video. This one-minute clip exemplifies the terror and trauma suffered by the people of Sderot on a daily basis. Please share it with your friends, family, everyone you know, so they can understand that the Jewish people are under siege in Sderot. It'll only take a minute.