Sderot teens hold a rocket launched by Hamas into the city. (Courtesy Meir Panim)
Israel’s southern city of Sderot, located just one mile from the contentious Gaza strip, has been battered by nearly 10,000 Qassam rockets since the beginning of the Second Intifada in October 2000. These rockets have caused deaths, injuries, significant damage to homes and property, profound disruption to daily life and severe psychological distress. Yet today, Sderot is not only rebuilding its infrastructure, but also developing the future leadership of Israel.
“Meir Panim works with Sderot’s at-risk youth,” explained Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim, to Breaking Israel News. “We were amazed to discover that these traumatized youth actually have tremendous leadership abilities. Therefore, we are doing all that we can to nourish the future leaders of Israel.”
A child is tutored at the Sderot youth center. (Courtesy Meir Panim)
Last summer, Meir Panim inaugurated its first official after-school youth club in Sderot. The event was attended by city dignitaries, community and municipality workers, IDF soldiers who serve as volunteers at the club, parents and their children.
“With proper intervention, we will not only transform young adult lives but also build a cadre of young leaders that will choose to continue living in Sderot and contribute to its future stability and hence, by doing so, create a more secure and stronger Israel,” Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi said at the event.
The Sderot Youth Club is inaugurated. (Courtesy Meir Panim)
Just one year later, the success of this club is clear to all. As a result, Mayor Davidi and the municipality, along with Meir Panim, will be partnering to open two more youth clubs in the area.
“The youth club provides high-level educational programs, latest technological and computer education, therapies, cultural and recreational activities to Sderot’s youth, and even adults in need,” continued Sternbuch. “Meir Panim is proud to partner with the municipality and expand this excellent and crucial program so that many more of the city’s residents can benefit.”
The municipality has already appropriated a large public bomb shelter to house the next youth club. “Converting a bomb shelter into a youth club is rather symbolic,” noted Sternbuch to Breaking Israel News. “It demonstrates how, despite the difficulty of living under the daily threat of attack, the spirit of Sderot’s residents is alive and well. Even a place like a bomb shelter, which is associated with fear and terror, can be turned into a lively place which provides hope and solace.”
Meir Panim is actively raising funds to transform this bomb shelter into a fully furnished and outfitted home-away-from-home with kitchen, lounge, computer, media, and play areas. Showers are being installed as, when needed, the shelter can accommodate up to 200 people seeking a safe place from rocket fire.
A Qassam rocket is fired on Sderot from militants in Gaza. (Courtesy Meir Panim
Fifty percent of Sderot’s residents are immigrants from Ethiopia and the FSU with low socioeconomic and educational backgrounds. Approximately 75 percent of the city’s population suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and 80 percent of its citizens earn a minimum wage. Yet thanks to programs like Meir Panim’s youth clubs, the city is experiencing a revival and showing signs of true leadership.
Social workers note that many of Sderot’s disadvantaged youth do not consider getting a higher education or joining the Israeli army, both of which are crucial to a productive future. In contrast, those youth who participate in Meir Panim’s youth club, which instills in them the importance of a strong education and hard work and provides skills to acclimate to Israeli life, consistently express their desire to be Israel’s future leaders and success stories.
“We asked a fourteen-year-old boy what he wanted to be when he grew up,” smiled Sternbuch. “He said ‘Israel’s Prime Minister’. When we asked what he would want to be if he wasn’t Prime Minister, he answered with determination, ‘That is what I want to be, Prime Minister of Israel’. Now, that’s an accomplishment.”
Sderot kids and IDF soldiers celebrate opening of Sderot Youth Club. (Courtesy Meir Panim)
The Sderot municipality, with the help of Meir Panim’s initiatives, are making a real change to the “bomb shelter capital of the world”. Although the combination of living in a potentially dangerous area and the cultural challenges common for immigrant children creates a particularly risky situation for teenagers, the hope to help these youth break free of the cycle of poverty, distress, and isolation is high. Meir Panim’s after-school youth program not only provides the next generation a chance for a better future but just also might give Israel its future Prime Minister.
An antisemitic flyer found on the University of Houston campus on Tuesday. Photo: Michael Leone / Facebook
Dozens of flyers and stickers promoting neo-Nazi propaganda were found at the University of Houston (UH) this week, the latest incident associated with an increase in white supremacist activity on campuses nationwide.
The flyers, found on bulletin boards, walls, trash bins, and lamp posts at the university’s main campus on Tuesday, included phrases such as, “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” according to a statement shared online by UH’s chapter of the Young Communist League (YCL).
IDF soldiers make a blessing on the traditional Jewish custom of apple and honey to welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) said they will provide $1.5 million in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.
The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100.
The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement Wednesday.
Gaza-based terror group says it will agree to Palestinian Authority conditions on forming joint government and holding elections
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, center, and spokesman Fawzi Barhoum attend a protest in Gaza City on July 22, 2017, against new Israeli security measures implemented at the holy site, which include metal detectors and cameras, following an attack that killed two Israeli policemen the previous week. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
For the past week or so, Iranian official media and social networks have been abuzz with anecdotes woven around a football match in Tehran between Iran and Syria and the light it might shed on a complicated relationship.
According to most accounts, a group of Syrians flown in by special charter to cheer their national squad in its bid for a place in the World Cup in Moscow staged an anti-Iran demonstration in the stadium. The Syrian contingent included young ladies who refused to wear the Iranian-style hijab.
Their presence in the stadium highlighted the fact that no Iranian woman is allowed to attend a football match after a fatwa by the “Supreme Guide” that women watching young men running around with bare legs might cause “undue excitement”
An Orthodox man passes a British guard in London, UK. (drserg / Shutterstock.com)
A new in-depth survey conducted by the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found that around 30 percent of the British public hold at least one anti-Semitic viewpoint.
The report noted, however, that most of the 30 percent polled also held some positive views about Jews.
Further, around 15 percent of the British public indicated they agreed with two or more anti-Semitic views presented to them, while two percent of British adults polled were found to be “hard-core” anti-Semites.
The survey was conducted by JPR senior research fellow Dr. Daniel Staetsky using face-to-face interviews and online polls.
That’s followed by the sounds of the terrorists assaulting a passenger.
“Please don’t hurt me,” he pleads. “Oh God.”
As the passengers rush the cabin, a Muslim terrorist proclaims, “In the name of Allah.”
As New York firefighters struggle up the South Tower with 100 pounds of equipment on their backs trying to save lives until the very last moment, the Flight 93 passengers push toward the cockpit. The Islamic hijackers call out, “Allahu Akbar.”.
The autumn of 2015 was unusual in almost every way on the north Aegean Greek island of Lesbos from which I am writing. There were tens of thousands of illegal migrants on the island, the native population of which was scarcely 100,000. New refugees arrived every day by the thousands.
One evening, the blue-gray sky grumbled shortly after sunset. The thick clouds blackened and rain poured down over the city with a roar. As I ran across the slippery pavement into a friend’s bar, I heard a group of five poor souls speaking Persian with a Turkic accent and running amok, seeking shelter under the eaves of a building.
While the criminal investigation is closing in on one associate after another, one advisor after another, in one of the most serious affairs in the State of Israel’s history, and perhaps the most serious affair, I find it hard to believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was driven by greed when he advanced the submarine deal.
There are doubts. There are associates being questioned one after the other. There are state’s witnesses. Nevertheless, Netanyahu likely wasn’t a partner in crime. He didn’t make decisions on the submarines in a bid to make a profit for himself or for his associates. It’s impossible, just impossible.
Regarding the question that forms the title of this article, I truly believe that the answer is “yes.” It is my belief that Christian Zionism is as obvious a sign of the beginning of the redemption of Israel as are the ingathering of millions of Jews to the land of Israel and the existence of the State of Israel itself. But there are many people who don’t share this perspective.
In the Jewish community, there are still many who are wary of Christian friendship and support. Many Jews are suspicious of an ulterior motive to convert Jews to Christianity that they fear underlies this political partnership.
Last weekend, the world experienced a petrifying “wake up call” when Pyongyang test launched a hydrogen bomb. According to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Sunday’s test represents “a new dimension to the threat.” Added Amano, “I think the North Korean threat is a global one now.
In the past, people thought it was a regional one, but that is no longer the case.”
Since 1994, when North Korea decided to pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), there has been a huge history of attempts to chain the North Korean nuclear beast, including efforts for military cooperation, sanctions and, of course, negotiations.