The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a topic of interest to many students at Sussex, while others couldn’t care less. It’s also a topic consisting of an endless debate which will never amount to anything more than unwanted tension on our campus. However, the interview featured in last weeks The Badger (‘Existence is resistance’ 24/11/08) with students that visited the West Bank in Israel earlier this term, painted an elaborate picture of what life is like for some Palestinians living there.

The interview gave insight into the aggravations that some Palestinians face on a day to day basis. Though the group were evidently looking to find out more about people caught up in the conflict, they chose to ignore that there are also places where some Israelis are living in dire circumstances.

To find out more about the humanitarian situation in Israel, it would also have made sense for the delegation to visit Sderot, a town on the edge of the Gaza strip that on a daily basis has Quassam rockets fired at it from inside Gaza. Between the takeover of the Gaza strip by Hamas in mid-June 2007 until mid February 2008, 771 rockets and 857 mortar bombs have been fired at Sderot and the western Negev which brings the current total up to over 7000 rockets that have been fired into the region from Gaza.

Almost every day in Sderot and areas of the western Negev when Quassams are fired (and continue to be fired during the recent ceasefire that is due to end on December 19th), the rocket siren ‘Red Alert’ is sounded. People then have 15 seconds to run to a bomb shelter. The alarm is triggered by sensors and cameras that can detect from where the rocket is fired to where it will fall.

For this reason, bomb shelters in the playgrounds of Sderot kindergartens are commonplace and there is no child under the age of 7 years old in Sderot that has lived without knowing what the Red Alert alarm is, or gone less than a week without hearing it. Because of this, over 74 percent of children aged 7 – 12 in Sderot are suffering from either anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder according to a recent study by Natal, the Israel Trauma Centre for Victims of Terror and War. The delegation from Brighton missed seeing all this during their visit.

It is important for us here to recognise that in this horrible conflict, there are two sides to both the political and civilian stories. Recently, the Amnesty International Society at the University of Nottingham held a ‘Save Sderot’ stall with information and petitions, recognising that there are also Israelis who face human rights violations.

I therefore offer a suggestion to the delegation for their next visit. Take a look around and see how much you have blinded yourself to.

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7 Comments

  • This is a very biased and sniping commentary. How on earth can you tell what the interviewees think about life for Israeli citizens on the basis of their interview?

    This article appears to be a highly insulting, underhanded propaganda in favour of the War on Terror, denigrating people interested in human rights for no reason other than a kind of strange, general support for nuclear armament and land grabbing. Everyone knows that Israelis get killed by Arabs. Just because the delegation have not immediately published the fact on their return does not mean that they are ‘blinded’ to anything, necessarily.

    Must Try Harder.

  • Judith Flacks has been on this tip before, she seems to need cheering up if all she can do with her spare time is mock people about their involvement in learning about cultural oppression of Arabs.

    May I recommend Ian Dury & The Blockheads?

  • When I was on a delegation, I met Israeli citizens who were clearly having a hard time of it, but certainly didn’t meet any Israelis who were squatting in a tent surrounded by concrete and twisted metal, courtesy of the IDF. If anyone reading this feels the need to explain why this kind of treatment in the West Bank is likely to help people being fired on in Sderot, please go right ahead.

  • “Everyone knows that Israelis get killed by Arabs. ” Do they? how do they know? Either by going there, or by reading what a journalist has written. Jude is just saying someone needs to write it. There are two sides to every story.

    “When I was on a delegation, I met Israeli citizens who were clearly having a hard time of it, but certainly didn’t meet any Israelis who were squatting in a tent surrounded by concrete and twisted metal, courtesy of the IDF.” Was that the only situation that you thought deserved reporting?

    “Judith Flacks has been on this tip before, she seems to need cheering up if all she can do with her spare time is mock people about their involvement in learning about cultural oppression of Arabs.” – Hang on…you’re the one who’s just written three comments basically accusing Judith of being a propaganda machine out to brainwash the masses into…what exactly? Disliking terrorism? Thinking wars are complicated? She doesn’t seem to have issue with what you did report on, more on what you didn’t, which is a fair point.

  • Judith’s article could be summed up with her quote, as her article is “recognising that there are also Israelis who face human rights violations.”

    How this could be considered a “a highly insulting, underhanded propaganda in favour of the War on Terror” is beyond me.

  • No it’s because the article is telling a delegation that they are blinding themselves to something when there is no indication that this is the case.

    It’s like when the BBC will report on Afghanistan and say, “ooh look some Muslims have thrown battery acid in a girl’s face for going to school” but when it comes to large groups of civilians getting killed by ‘our side’ that isn’t considered news. Does that mean that if someone kicks off about civilian death in the Middle East, payed for with taxpayers’ money, and claims that this is a more pressing issue than someone getting battery acid thrown at them (at least they are still alive), does this mean that that person is not paying attention? I beg to differ.

  • I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. The fact remains that this commentary has, simply and plainly, accused a bunch of people of being biased. This is in itself, as I have said, biased. And this bias manifests in the form of a diss, which is as follows:

    “Take a look around and see how much you have blinded yourself to”.

    I seriously doubt that the author of the article is on particularly good terms with any of the people who stand accused of not seeing stuff. An article which could have been a perfectly valid and informative piece manages to sabotage itself into a turgid invective – if you really want to slag someone off, at least make a better go of it than this. Or, go and listen to some Northern Soul instead and just don’t bother.