An Open Letter to the Australian Community
Dear Australian Community,
I would like to extend an enormous thank you to Geoff Weinberg for allowing me to have the privilege of traveling to Australia and sharing the human side of the story from Sderot, Israel.
Noam Bedein speaking at a church in Australia.
At Macquarie University in Sydney I met and intensely debated in his office Dr. Gennaro Gervasio. While he used the regular terms of apartheid, occupation, war crimes and compared Israel to Nazi Germany, I managed to speak to his students’ hearts for 15 minutes and present a different viewpoint that the students do not get to hear.
When leaving his classroom Dr. Gervasion called out to me, "Don't be surprised if the Jewish communities here feel pressured or threatened the way Israel is treating the Palestinians."
It was from this experience I understood the importance of the Sderot Media Center in becoming an international source of information for the Israel-Gaza conflict.
The two weeks of presentations were primarily organized by the Australian Union of Jewish Students, AUJS, that took me to high-schools and campuses in Melbourne and Sydney. I also had the pleasure of participating in the yearly political seminar at the Australian Parliament house, where I presented to the students the importance of understanding the basics of the Israel-Gaza conflict; teaching the next generation to use the story of Sderot as the main talking points in presenting the Israeli prospective.
I also managed to meet with Australian Parliamentarians, some of whom I personally hosted in Sderot a few weeks prior including the Hon. Bruce Billson, Hon. Julie Bishop, Senator Scott Ryan. Also, I met for the first time the Hon. Malcom Turnbull, Hon. George Brandis, and Senator Marise Payne.
The 'Gaza War' has affected the entire world, with the multi-million dollar media campaigns and PR invested in portraying the scenes in Gaza. Almost every Jewish community in the world was exposed to the massive demonstrations against Israel during and after Operation Cast Lead, feeling a direct hostility for the first time in many years. Which I was able to see was felt as well in Australia.
From this trip I was able to gather greater understanding of the imbalance of information/media coverage in Israel has its direct affect around the world, all the way in Australia.
Noam Bedein speaking in the Australian Parliament House.
This imbalance of media coverage naturally gives more legitimacy for Hamas, which has become almost a ‘household’ word. Giving this sort of legitimacy for terrorism and their terrorist leaders is opening dark elements in the entire world, which essentially is the real threat to peace in the region.
Today, the challenge that we have at the Sderot Media Center is to balance understanding with the powerful human story of Sderot, with influencing world public opinion as the ultimate goal. This challenge is increasing everyday, as the Israeli prospective has to compete or compare with the images emanating from the Gaza Strip.
Sderot Media Center is sharing the reality of the only region in the world, where rockets and missiles are being fired and threatening a civilian population. We are exposing this human side of the story of what became normal in having 15 seconds to run for your life, the moral dilemmas families have to work through, and all this resulting in the severe psychological impact of the next generation of Israel’s children.
We wish and pray for this new year, to have peace and security in our home towns, and by sharing information first to our own people, and not just to "preach to the choir" but "make the choir sing" as Geoff Weinberg says is the first goal.
The Sderot Media Center vision for this coming year is to become a role model in Israel and world wide in the ways to deal with and educate about psychological warfare. SMC provides self expressing media tools for the traumatized population while exposing the human side of story. In doing so, we give real hope for the future of the region. We are undermining what became acceptable and demanding the de-legitimization of terrorist leaders using their own civilians as a population of human shields.
Shana tova v’metuka/ Happy and sweet new year,
Sderot Media Center