Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Anav Silverman, the International Correspondent at Sderot Media Center in Sderot, Israel.
FP: Anav Silverman, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Silverman: Thank you for having me here again.
FP: Can you tell us about the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) trauma that Israeli Sderot residents are still suffering from after 8 years of Gaza rocket fire?
Silverman: Yes, although there have been relatively fewer rockets since Operation Cast Lead ended, residents in Sderot and the western Negev are still reeling from the shock and trauma of thousands of Gaza rockets that have exploded in the region. There have been over 250 rockets fired at Sderot and southern Israel since the ceasefire began on January 18, 2009. However each time the Tzeva Adom (Color Red) siren is set off by a rocket–even if it is only once a week—it still sends residents into shock and disrupts any sense of normalcy. We know that Hamas is gearing up for the next rocket escalation. Israeli intelligence sources report that Hamas is working on establishing bigger and more accurate rockets to fire into Israel. At the same time, Sderot families are also preparing for the future rocket attacks–government mandated bomb-shelters can be seen being constructed for homes across the city.
At this time, there is no post yet to the trauma here in Sderot, not when sporadic rockets fired from northern Gaza and Sderot mothers are still taking medication to calm their nerves. Sderot children began the first day of school in September expecting rocket attacks, because that’s how the school year usually opened in previous years. The fear and uncertainty that the Iranian-backed Hamas has instilled into the civilian residents of southern Israel– through the rocket warfare– is a violation of international humanitarian law that continues to this day.
FP: And so the situation we have is that, despite this violence, Gaza’s militants receive hundreds of million of dollars in international aid. Your thoughts?
Silverman: It is a shame and a crime that hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid in large part does not go to the people who need it most in Gaza. There is little monitoring of where the funds are transferred and exactly who in the Gaza Strip benefits from all this global generosity. Hamas, the radical Islamic regime that rules Gaza, spends millions of dollars each year inculcating the next generation of Palestinian children to hate and seek the destruction of Israel, through summer camps, media, and religious indoctrination in schools and mosques. Even more alarming, are the pro-Hamas agencies like UNRWA that are given the international funds to transfer in Gaza. UNRWA has publicly acknowledged in the past that Hamas members may very well make up their staff.
The fact remains that as long as Hamas is in power, the Gaza rocket infrastructure will continue to expand while the Hamas regime finds better and more improved ways to terrorize Israelis with the financial backing of Iran.
FP: And while Hamas murderers get funding, the Sderot Trauma facilities that provide vital therapy services to the Sderot community are on the verge of shutting down due to financial government cutbacks. What exactly does this say about the international community and the U.S. administration?
Silverman: It is a pretty ironic situation that as the Sderot Trauma Facilities are on the verge of closing down, while Gaza receives millions of dollars worth of humanitarian aid from the international community. Sderot residents may soon be left to cope with the trauma of rocket attacks on their own, as trucks laden with humanitarian goods pass through the Israel-Gaza border every day. Where is the humanitarian crisis?
During his 2008 campaign visit to Sderot, President Barack Obama stated that “The first job of any nation state is to protect its citizens. If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that. And I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” Why the US Administration continues to push for a peace agenda between Israel and the Palestinians, when the current Hamas government of Gaza is not a believer of peace with Israel–but a supporter of war–is difficult to fathom here in Sderot.
FP: So tell us your thoughts on this clear hypocrisy that we now see in the international community and the American administration when it comes to its indifference to terror crimes being committed against Israelis.
Silverman: I believe that this hypocrisy is the easier and more comfortable route for those who choose to view the Middle East conflict exclusively as the fault of Israel. There is obviously a much wider context to this conflict that many international leaders and government administrations refuse to acknowledge–the fact that Iran and Syria continue to provide financial and military backing to Islamic radical terror groups like Hamas and Hezbullah is one factor. Even more significant, is the hate-education of Israel and the west that much of the Muslim youth– both in Hamas-run Gaza and much of the Middle East– receive throughout their childhood as well as into adulthood, in schools, summer camps and mosques.
While much of the world remained silent during the nine years of Gaza rockets strikes on the population of 19,000 Israeli civilians living in the city of Sderot and thousands of other Israeli residents living near Gaza-border communities, the three-week Operation Cast Lead generated immediate international response against Israel. Operation Cast Lead, which was carried out to deter and stop Palestinian rocket launchers from targeting up to one million Israelis living in the south, became the opportune moment for Israel’s critics and haters to blast the Jewish state and delegitimize Israel’s democratic right to defend her citizens– in media, protests, campus events and other venues. If one rocket was fired from Mexico into a populated city in California, how would the United States respond?
FP: What can average people who read this interview do if they want to help Sderot residents and come to the aid of Israelis in general?
Silverman: One way to truly help change the Sderot situation is to get the voices of Sderot residents–their experiences and stories living under fundamental Islamists’ rocket terror– out to the rest of the world. Sderot Media Center is the only social media-advocacy organization in Sderot that advocates on behalf of Sderot residents both in Israeli and international media and political forums across the world, from Capitol Hill to the United Nations in Geneva.
Sderot Media Center launched the Sderot Community Treatment Theater one a year ago to provide drama therapy sessions to traumatized Sderot high school school girls. The treatment theater has now launched Children of Qassam Avenue, a theaterical production based on the real-life rocket stories of the Sderot high school girls, who have performed the play before audiences in Jerusalem and Sderot. The eventual plan is to bring the production to the Israeli Knesset and to Europe, the United States, and Canada.
To do this and continue with the operation of the theatre project, Sderot Media Center needs help and support. Anyone who is interested in helping us out, contact the media center at this e-mail: [email protected]. Also, Sderot Media Center’s US Tax Deductible Account is: JNF, Albert S. Golbert, 601 W 5th St800, Los Angeles, CA, 90071-2094, *Earmarked: Sderot Media Center Project.
Thank you Jamie.
FP: Thank you for joining us Anav Silverman, we wish you the best.
[To get the whole story on the Left’s aiding and abetting of the enemies of Israel, read Jamie Glazov’s new book, United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.]