Friday, January 25, 2008

Uncommon Look at Sderot

On Wednesday the news was full of reports of the hole knocked into the wall between Gaza and Egypt and the fact that Palestinians were pouring through the wall to buy essentials (which, depending on the reports you listened to, included a brand new washing machine that one man attempted to tow by donkey cart and lots of cigarettes along with food and medicine). Almost all of the coverage either alluded to or flat out stated that the people in Gaza were in a blockade because Israel had decided to retaliate against some "home-made missiles" being lobbed at "Israeli border towns" (as though because they're home-made they're less destructive and because they can only reach border towns, we shouldn't consider them too serious). A few mentioned that the civil war between Hamas and Fatah had a bit to do with all this as well, but most implied that Israel was cutting off all supplies - including electricity, which is blatantly untrue yet bandied about by many of the media outlets.

Anyway, after hearing this coverage of the story all day, including on my very favorite show Marketplace which normally steers clear of one-sided reporting but yesterday interviewed economist Youssef Dauod in the West Bank about what the Palestinians need most - including "the hospitals will need the energy for people not to die," I was pleased to finally hear coverage of the flip side of the issue - what's happening to all those people living in the "border towns".

Linda Gradstein interviewed a few of the residents of Sderot, one of the main towns that's been the target of Kassam rocket attacks because it's so close to the Gaza border. When people say there are rockets, you have to understand that this means 200 rockets fired in the last week, each accompanied by alarms that go off when a rocket is incoming. I can't how someone would handle living in that situation (thank goodness my family lives far enough North that the current generation of missiles can't reach them). Ms. Gradstein did a sensitive interview with a mother who's been traumatized, needing medication to stay calm but clearly suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, only not really post-trauma because she's still right in the middle of it. She also interviewed a hairdresser who deals with the terror by designing a Kassam rocket hairdo, and a seller in the fruit market who blamed the Israeli government for being too kind to Gaza – giving them electricity, gas, and food. All in all, it was nice to see some attention given to the other victims of this horrible situation. I don't doubt that conditions in Gaza are terrible, and I wish that there could be peace there once and for all, but the only way we'll get there is if both sides are given equal, fair exposure so they can appreciate each other's challenges and hopes. For once I can say at least one show on NPR did a good job with that.

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