Recently, as part of my trip to Israel, I got the chance to go visit the city of Sderot – an absolutely amazing city with a vibrant population in Southern Israel. Having been built on the western Negev desert, the mere establishment of the city is a statement in itself.
However, what is far more amazing than the city’s foundation has been its citizens’ resiliency. Since 2000, Israel has been under a constant barrage of rocket fire totaling more than 12,000 at this point. Sderot, being less than a mile away from the source of the rockets – The Gaza Strip – , has been a primary target of this assault. These rockets have killed people in Sderot ranging from 2 year old babies to 57 year old grandparents. Furthermore, Hamas leaders have been continuing to threaten to drive the Jews out of the small city, and they have said that once they are done with Sderot they will drive the Jews out of neighboring cities. Needless to say, the existence of a strong Jewish presence continues to be a vivid reminder of the failure of Hamas to rid the region of Jews.
With that, while visiting this brave city, a few friends and I went to go have lunch in a tiny, family owned, kiosk. After sitting down, I immediately noticed that the mother and son working in the kitchen were very pleasantly surprised at the sudden influx of business we provided them, and I also noticed that we peaked their curiosity with our foreign tongue. This is because, as you might imagine, Sderot, being a city that is always in the shadow of Qassam rockets really does not fit the bill as a major tourist attraction.
Therefore, while putting pieces of Kebab on a skewer, one of the owners asked us, with a polite yet heavy Israeli accent, – “what are you doing here?” To which my friend responded that “we want to see with our own eyes what it’s like to be in a city that is designed in such a way that people should hopefully be able to reach a concrete reinforced shelter within 15 seconds regardless of where they are in town”. He (my friend) then went on to ask a question that took the entire kiosk by surprise “Why are you here?”. The man responded, without hesitation, “If I won’t live here, than the ones shooting rockets at me will… and nothing will hurt more than getting attacked from here (Sderot)”. Throughout my entire upbringing in Israel, I have encountered very few things more powerful than this plea of an ordinary citizen. It was not a plea for help, yet a plea to not force him or his Jewish brethren in Judea and Samaria out of their homes, because he knows that if the rhetoric of Palestinian leadership is any indication of their will, those homes will likely turn into launch pads for deadly rockets.
What upsets me most of all is that the international community seems to not even consider the very real threat that giving sovereignty to Palestinians has on people such as those I met in Sderot. It has become an accepted idea that now is the time for a sovereign Palestinian state on lands currently controlled by Israel. This past March, Obama said the Palestinians “deserve an independent state of their own” while condemning Hamas’ rocket fire into Israel.
The irony of these declarations baffles me. Whereas I am not sure what exactly constitutes “deserving” a state, the notion that world leaders can claim that a people who fire thousands of rockets are somehow deserving of a state is utterly ridiculous, and would be laughable in all cases- except when dealing with Israel!
Now, I have heard people that tried to claim that once a Palestinian state is established than somehow all the harsh rhetoric and rocket fire would stop flying towards Israel. But if one would stop to listen to any of the rhetoric of the Palestinian leadership they would understand that neither Hamas nor the slightly more moderate Fatah are willing to accept peace until there is no Jewish presence in “Palestine” (both organizations state so in their charters).It absolutely astonishes me the ease with which people are willing to bargain with people’s homes while fully knowing this unfortunate reality.
The bottom line is this: for as long as a Palestinian leadership makes it a mission to destroy the state of Israel and the Jewish people- no one, much less a world leader should claim that the Palestinians are somehow deserving of a state at this junction of history.