The event title at the UC Berkley Campus was “Noam Bedein from Sderot Media Center”, and the event took place on November 6th. The event title at the UC Irvine campus was “Southern Israel Experience”, and took place on November 7th.
Alana of UC Berkley says that her target audience members were Berkeley students who support Israel or students who do not know enough information to take a stance. The majority of attendees were freshmen who had never been involved with Tikvah: Students for Israel, which means that there may be great opportunities ahead to get more students involved!
As Alana says, “the focus of the event was on the rockets which hit cities like Sderot and what effect they have on the people of Israel and their ability to live their lives.” The fact is, the at-times daily barrage of rockets from Gaza on Southern Israel, including the city of Sderot, hardly attracts media attention, and so it is the mission of Noam and CAMERA fellows to expose the truth and to give it as much critical attention as possible. No one should live under the threat of rocket attacks from a terrorist organization. The psychological and physical trauma endured by the people of Sderot, Ashdod and other Southern Israel cities must not be ignored.
Alana says that she was pleased with the trunout for the event. “I hoped that people who have never heard of Sderot could be educated and begin to really understand what it means to grow up with terror and fear,” says Alana.
Alana also says that Noam was an excellent speaker and presenter, and that he certainly connected with the audience. He was well versed on all the facts, and explained the situation clearly and passionately. Noam not only spoke but he also showed short video clips, some of which offered actual footage of rockets falling into civilian areas. Alana notes that she thinks that “people felt kind of shocked when seeing actual videos of rockets being fired into playgrounds, but it is important that they have now been exposed to it.”
Members of the audience asked a few questions. One such question was, “If Sderot has all these rocket attacks, why are you advertising that we should come and visit?” Noam’s reply was that it is critical to know what is happening on the ground in Sderot–to see it with your own eyes. He wants students to meet the strong people of Sderot who live in a place where one has 15 seconds to run to a shelter. A note to mention is that many areas in Sderot are fortified against rockets, and that if one were to visit Sderot, maximum precautions would be taken to ensure their safety. Many CAMERA fellows have already visited Sderot, and have had very positive experiences there.
The day after Noam’s event at UC Berkley, Noam came to speak at UC Irvine. CAMERA fellow Daniel Narvy says the purpose of the event was “to raise awareness on what life is like in Sderot under constant rocket fire.” Daniel went on to say poignantly that “Our campus talks about the disproportional response of Israel, so the purpose was to show that Israelis live in constant fear of rocket attack; this story does not make the news.”
Daniel reports that the event itself went smoothly, and that several organizations (Act for America, Leaders After God’s Heart) expressed interest in advertising for AFI’s upcoming events. AFI–Anteaters for Israel–is the pro-Israel group on the UC Irvine campus. This was the first strictly political AFI event since 2011. He also says that AFI recruited a new members who is looking forward to getting active.
Many audience members expressed concern for the people of Sderot, and asked Noam questions about the demographics of Sderot, among other questions. Daniel says that Noam was “incredibly well informed on topic, and gave very informative answers; the audience was very happy with speaker.” The fact is, as Daniel says, “the story of Sderot has a very strong personal element, so people who attended felt personally connected and inspired.” One of the students who attended the event felt very intimately connected to what Noam was discussing since she has family in Ashdod. AFI is hoping to see her join the executive board so that she may be more involved.
Overall, Alana of UC Berkely and Daniel of UC Irvine received positive feedback for the event. They both successfully raised awareness on the issue of Sderot, and will continue their critical work of educating their fellow students on the facts on the ground in Israel, and to show the human face of Israel to fellow students.