This post was originally published yesterday, and has been made “sticky” so that it stays at the top. Scroll down for last night’s news feed and a newer post about the Swedish Prime Minister’s punishment for Swedish racists.
“Please remember us when the chips are down.”
The southern Israeli city of Sderot is a city of stress and trauma. If you’re a resident of Sderot, you can leave off the “post” in “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” — PTSD stands for “Present Tense Stress Disorder”:
The city’s name, meaning “boulevard,” refers to its placement in a network of avenues of trees planted in the Negev to fight desertification and beautify the arid landscape, evoking Ben Gurion’s efforts to “make the desert bloom,” a central tenant in Zionist ideology. Sderot was founded in 1951 as a transit camp for Mizrahi immigrants fleeing as part of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries. They lived in the desert, housed in tents and shacks, until the government began constructing small apartments for the residents in 1954. Throughout the following decades, different immigrant groups flowed in from Romania, Ethiopia, Bucharia, and the Ukraine, culminating in the Russian aliyah in the 1990s, during which the city absorbed so many new immigrants that Sderot doubled its population. The diversity of immigrants absorbed means that Sderot is not without its social and economic problems. Sderot is a city of many different immigrant communities, complicating social cohesion, but it is also one that is deeply economically depressed. Despite government efforts to create housing and factories, the city holds one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Before the intifada, residents of Sderot and Gaza traveled freely back and forth, exchanging goods and services, and crossing borders for employment opportunities and socializing. This lasted until the Oslo Accords, when peace became an empty word in Israel and only made things worse.
The past twenty-four hours have seen a new wave of rocket attacks on Sderot. The rockets are being launched into Israel from the Gaza Strip, and are thought to be the work of Hamas. As of this writing, there have been more than a hundred.
The following article grew out of an email conversation between Dymphna and our Israeli correspondent MC. Their initial exchange occurred a couple of months ago, and concerned the BBC reporting of an event in Gaza, which implied that the Israeli arms blockade was causing starvation in the strip. Dymphna pointed out that his asides were a story in themselves, and invited him to indulge in some Beeb-bashing.
MC sent us this report not long afterwards:
I live in Sderot, a small city in Israel about three miles from Gaza, there, my wife and I are volunteers at a charity that supplies supplemental food to poor and unemployed families in the city and surrounding area.
We hand out the food in supermarket bags which have to be packed the day before. Somehow it is usually doing these sessions that one hears “Sever Adom” on the loudspeaker system that covers the whole city. The internal alarm also triggers, and one’s blood pressure peaks. At this point we officially have fifteen seconds to get under cover. Often, however, it is more like four seconds.
S rushes to the lavatory at this point and locks herself in, I, her husband, go outside to see if there is anything to see. The rest of us stay out and wait for the bang. There is not enough time to get to a shelter (all the bus stops are bomb shelters),and being caught out in the open is not healthy.
Y knows this; he is permanently crippled from the one that exploded about a yard away from him. There was a brick wall in between, and he still carries some of it around with him, too deeply embedded to be removed safely.
Sderot was built in the 1950s when Jews had to flee from North Africa in the aftermath of the 1948 war. It started as a tent city on the periphery of the Negev desert. Later, rows of prefab housing were erected; they can still be seen.
S, the lady of the loo, was from North Africa, as a three-year-old she was doused in petrol and set alight. She survived, but grew up carrying the scars.
Bible scholars will remember that the Amalekites attacked the tail end of the Israelite column as they were leaving Egypt. In this rear part were the families, the old and the infirm. These are the soft targets, and there is little risk but great terror potential in attacking babies. Several hundred years later King Saul was commanded to wipe out the Amalekites, lock, stock etc. But the barrels proved too tempting and he failed so the problem of Amalekite hatred of the children of Israel continues to this day.
As the first missiles fell on Sderot some dozen or so years ago, those who could afford it moved out, along with the factories that provided the jobs. Notable exceptions being Nestlé’s, Amdocs and the Israeli food company Osem. With the resulting unemployment came poverty and exploitation.
E, one of the volunteers is a Sabra, a native Israeli. She speaks Hebrew, English and French, and works for a cleaning company at minimum wage. They require her to work 20 hours a week, but only pay her for 12. If she works more than 12 hours she loses her welfare payment, but jobs are so scarce that that E has to do the 20 hours.
G is in debt to the bank. His unemployment cheque is also paid into the bank (he has no say in this), so he sees very little of this money, and we feed him and his children.
K was badly crippled by a Qassam missile, and cannot now do any physical work. His wife left him soon after the injury happened, taking his two daughters with her. The state pays most of his benefit as child support, so K is left to live on a pittance. He needed an operation a few weeks ago, to remove shrapnel, but the hospital would not operate until someone put up a bond in case the insurance would not pay (it was a war injury). We were able to find the money for that.
The rain of missiles is from our peace-loving ‘cousins’ in Gaza. Each warhead is lovingly filled with nails and rat poison (promotes bleeding) and they are cynically aimed at our children when they are going to school or coming home.
Gaza has some of the finest beaches in the Mediterranean, an area famous for its beaches. It could be a major tourist destination, but no: the spirit of the Amalekite is with us, so killing and maiming Jews is more important.
The BBC article in question uses a seventies lefty trick that I recognise from my student union days:
Some 80% of families in the Palestinian territory are said to receive some sort of food aid from UN agencies and other international organisations.
Although there have been some previous incidents of Gazans setting fire to themselves because of hardship, this is thought to be the first fatality.
The UN has been highly critical of the blockade on Gaza which Israel and Egypt tightened when Islamist group Hamas seized power in 2007, the BBC’s Jon Donnison reports.
You will note the non-sequitur insertion of the UN sentence. This is designed to link in our minds the otherwise unconnected ideas of hunger, unemployment and blockade. The BBC is telling us a lie whilst telling us the truth.
I would disagree with the Beeb. Hamas and Islamic fundamentalism are the prime cause of the dire problems in Gaza, and also have painful consequences for the innocent people of Sderot who just want to get on with life. But the BBC obviously do not care for truth. They are, after all, a propaganda organisation, paid for by the people of the UK, but representing whom? We don’t know; maybe those that would want to rule for a thousand years.
Today’s rocket attacks from Gaza prompted MC to send this new report:
News from Front-Line Sderot
It’s Sunday morning and I am just a bit on edge. I was woken up this morning to a chorus of “Sever Adom” echoing across the town. Our culture was about to be enhanced once more.
Last night there was a condition red, but nothing happened. This morning the explosions were too close for comfort. The house shook, the windows rattled, the town went silent — just the natural noises of the wind.
The “life-enhancing” qualities of Islam will be at work today while the emergency teams at Magen David Adom get to work on the inevitable victims, trying to save life and limb, but nobody can save mind and demeanour.
As usual it is school time, the children are on their way; and vulnerable. The shelters are about a hundred yards apart, twelve seconds for a six-year-old fifty yards from the shelter.
Me, I am crippled, so I cannot move fast. I stay put — if Yehovah wants to bring me home, then so be it, but I would rather not be maimed anymore. Abba, all I ask is make it fast.
This is a mind battle. We work for a small humanitarian aid organisation called “Hope for Sderot”. We mainly give out food to the now poor families in the area — our local cultural enhancement experts in Gaza have driven out many of the employers, and with them go the jobs and the wealth. The battle is to keep Sderot alive. The enemy wants to make life so uncomfortable that the town is abandoned and they have won. We work in the front line, doing what we can to make life in Sderot workable.
As we say goodbye to the jobs, so we say hello to debt crisis management. No job means that the mortgage does not get paid, the loans cannot be serviced, the gas, electricity and water have to be juggled; get it wrong and the children get their food cold.
To qualify for aid, our clients have to do a means test. This is a heart-rending process, made worse by bank and government inflexibility. Many clients see what little money they receive eaten up by compulsory repayments; clothing and equipping the children for school becomes a matter of scrounging what you can. We keep supplies of nappies (diapers) and unused children’s underwear so that if we see a need, we can fill it.
But it all costs money. When I flew in from Vienna a few months ago, girls’ knickers had been at half price in the local supermarket so I got a hundred euros’ worth. My bag was opened at the airport security, and there on top were all these packets of pants. The official gave me a very strange look!
Added to all the local cultural enhancement, The Joshua Fund (Christian) has just removed our $10,000 monthly grant after four years, we are too “Jewish” for them, they want our (Jewish) boss to go to church in Beersheva (forty kilometres away) on Saturday instead of keeping (Jewish) Sabbath. We thank the Joshua Fund for their past support, and we are slowly breaching the huge gap that their decision has left, but it is difficult not to be angry at the pettiness of it all.
If I might put in a ‘bleg’ here: you can contribute at our website. All money goes to counter the Jihad being waged directly against us.
We have enough supplies to keep distributing food into January, but our ability to ease the financial burdens is now severely restricted. We have to rely on contributions from our supporters, mainly in the USA with some local assistance. This income has dropped off by about 30% this year (excluding the above).
But above all we must trust in Yehovah to provide, He has His ways of overcoming the stupidity of mankind, and to support that which He deems to be GOOD.
In this we are very little different from our cousins over in Gaza about five kilometres away, but we do not need to defend Yehovah with our swords, and we do not expect everybody to love our Abba as we do. We love Him by looking after His Creation, not by destroying it. Islam is a religion of the desert, and desert is land that has been destroyed. Mark Twain described this land as:
“… A desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds… a silent mournful expanse… a desolation… we never saw a human being on the whole route… hardly a tree or shrub anywhere. Even the olive tree and the cactus, those fast friends of a worthless soil, had almost deserted the country.” (The Innocents Abroad, p. 361-362)
Another ‘sever Adom’ with accompanying whiz-bangs as I sit here writing this.
It is now productive, and even given the limitations and bias of Mr Twain, It has come alive only in the last hundred years or so.
Israel is the front line, and although it is not perfect, it is here as a bastion against Islamic encroachment. There is mounting resentment against Israel, from those same sources of cultural enrichment as we are all used to. I would only ask that the world remembers this as one by one, the nations of the world fall victim to Islamisation and begin to vilify Jews and Israel. Holocaust-denial has become rife, and yes, the Holocaust has been overplayed in some quarters, but my relatives, left behind in Lithuania and Russia all those years ago, have yet to turn up and make contact, so I can only assume that they all died before anyone could let us know what was happening. It is certainly unusual for a whole family of about twenty people to die in the course of a few years, and our family is by no means unique.
It is still eerily quiet outside. The schoolchildren are not singing and playing; they are behind the concrete and steel-reinforced structures that pass for school buildings here. Four civilians casualties are so far reported. I am sure there are more to come.
Here we go again, condition red, we had about four seconds warning of that one.
I think it is time to put the kettle on and resort to Mr Folger (very hard to get here, we have to ask visitors to bring us supplies).
Please remember us when the chips are down.