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Mar 5, 2012

Gaza and Sderot


In Sunday’s speech to AIPAC, the main Israeli lobbying organization, President Obama said:

I have visited with families who’ve known the terror of [Palestinian] rocket fire in Sderot. That’s why, as President, I have provided critical funding to deploy the Iron Dome system that has intercepted rockets that might have hit homes, hospitals, and schools in that town and others. Now our assistance is expanding Israel’s defensive capabilities, so that more Israelis can live free from the fear of rockets and ballistic missiles.  Because no family, no citizen, should live in fear.

It is worth knowing something of Sderot’s history. Does Obama know this? From Wikipedia:

Sderot [less than a mile from Gaza] was founded in 1951 as a transit camp for Kurdish, Morrocan [sic] and Persian Jewish immigrants who lived in tents and shacks before permanent housing was completed in 1954. It was built on semi-arid lands, that was farm land associated with the Palestinian Arab village of Najd which was located a few miles to the south of Sderot. On 13 May 1948, Najd was occupied by the Negev Brigade as part of Operation Barak, and the villagers were “driven out”. [Emphasis added. The phrase in quotes is from Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem.]

It was one of 400 Arab cities, towns, and villages destroyed in the formation of the state of Israel, what is known by Palestinians as al-Nakba, or the catastrophe. The residents likely fled to nearby Gaza, which has been blockaded by Israel since 2007 and was subject to the Israeli Defense Force’s brutal three-week Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009), which took more than 1,200 Palestinian lives, far fewer than the 32 Israeli deaths by rockets and mortar from Gaza since 2001. One should be able to understand how the residents of the Gaza concentration camp feel about the residents of Sderot.

Further reading: “500 Citizens of Sderot Contradict the Israeli Government” by Janine Roberts

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