On November 18th at 6:00 PM, Noam Bedein was hosted at the University of Florida. Noam is a photojournalist and the founder and director of the Sderot Media Center. This event served as a debriefing for Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, with the goal of educating students about the realities faced by Israelis living in Southern Israel, Sderot in particular. In addition, this event sought to provide context for why it was imperative that Israel take military action to prevent attacks from Gaza on its civilian population. The event was successful in educating students who were not previously informed about the suffering of Southern Israel’s population due to Hamas’s incessant rocket attacks.
In order to publicize the event, professors in the Middle Eastern Studies department were contacted and asked to spread the word. Many of the attendees expressed shock at discovering what life is like for residents of Southern Israel. Audience members were engaged and asked questions about specific individuals that Noam mentioned during the course of the event, as well as about the overall peace process and how Israel’s retreat from Gaza and the subsequent rocket attacks in Sderot led to a political shift in Israel to the right. All of the students who attended the event were added to the group’s list serve and will be informed of future events.
The most effective aspects of the event were the videos that Noam showed of children of Sderot running to the rocket shelter. The weakest aspect of the event was the fact that there was not enough time reserved for questions at the end.
The University of Florida’s Emet for Israel group, Zionist Gators, will continue to bring speakers similar to Noam Bedein in order to educate the student body about the current situation in Israel.
This piece was contributed by former University of Florida CAMERA Fellow Naor Amir.