Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In the Line of Verbal Fire

by Anav Silverman
Av 7, 5769, 28 July 09

Anav Silverman works in Sderot for the Sderot Media Center. She made aliyah from Maine, USA in 2004.

I knew this was not going to be an easy tour.

I recently had my second opportunity in Sderot to host a group from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI is a program supported and funded by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches, a major supporter of the anti-Israel divestment campaign.

According to NGO Monitor, EAPPI policies reflect a radically pro-Palestinian agenda, presenting a biased Palestinian narrative and failing to make any mention of Palestinian terror or the human rights of Israelis. In fact, the principal agenda of EAPPI includes the Ecumenical Campaign to End the Illegal Occupation of Palestine.
Since the EAPPI program was launched in August 2002, 198 activists have participated from more than 30 churches and ecumenical partners in 12 countries. According to NGO Monitor, most of these activists, upon returning to their home countries, become active in anti-Israel campaigns.

In other words, this was not going to be an easy tour. Usually, visitors to Sderot express sympathy, sometimes horror, at the plight of Sderot residents living under the terror of rocket fire for almost a decade. But left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups who previously visited with Sderot Media Center have always surprised me with their almost indifferent reactions to the suffering of Israelis in Sderot, and opinionated comments on why Sderot residents are targeted by rockets.
Therefore, the verbal line of fire that would follow from this EAPPI group did not catch me by surprise. In fact, I expected no less from this nice group of people, mostly Europeans, which included college students, journalists and senior citizens, all gathered together on a sweltering Tuesday afternoon to impart some of their wisdom to me.

The tour began at the Sderot police station, where hundreds of rockets are on display, including the May 19 rocket that struck in the heart of a Sderot residential neighborhood. That one damaged two homes, injured two people and sent eight others into shock.

The first question that was asked of me and repeated throughout the tour was: What percentage of Sderot residents were in favor of the war in Gaza?
Each time the question was asked, those in the group carrying pens and notebooks were poised to write down the answer. Other questions also followed: Do Sderot residents understand why they are in the line of fire? How do the people of Sderot feel about the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza? Do you feel the war was successful? And so on.

Keep in mind that these questions were asked as we were surrounded by visible signs of a city preparing for future rocket strikes. As we passed by Sderot homes with newly built bomb-shelters outside, and stood in Sderot's 'rocket-proof' playground, complete with concrete caterpillars that children run into when the siren blares, the aggressive questioning continued.
(For full story)

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