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.
Sens. Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker announcing the passage of the Taylor Force Act through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August 2017. Photo: Screenshot.
The US Senate is preparing to vote on the Taylor Force Act that links US financial assistance to the Palestinians with a verifiable end to the Palestinian Authority’s policy of “martyr payments” to convicted terrorists and their families – and the final version of the bill leaves the PA with little room to maneuver if it wants to continue receiving US aid.
“Awake, awake, O Tzion! Clothe yourself in splendor; Put on your robes of majesty, Yerushalayim, holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean Shall never enter you again.” Isaiah 52:1 (The Israel Bible™)
An Iranian drone entered Israeli territory from Syria last weekend and was shot down by an IDF attack helicopter. As a result of the incursion, Israeli jets attacked a mobile command center near Damascus, where the drone originated from. However, Syrian forces responded with anti-aircraft fire at the Israeli jets, damaging one jet and forcing the pilots to eject after they crossed back into Israeli airspace
The entrance to Auschwitz
Head of Poland’s Law and Justice Party
ul. Nowogrodzka 84/86 02-018 Warsaw, Poland
Dear Mr. Kaczynski,
My heart goes out to you over your dilemma to properly identify the mass extermination camps that the Nazis established on Poland’s sacred soil.
To call the camps Polish camps would suggest that Poland established them. This is clearly not true.
The NFL players at Shiloh: Right to left: Chris Harris Jr., Avery Williamson, Geoff Schwartz, Joshua Norman, Vic Beasley, Mitchell Schwartz (Photo courtesy Westray Communications)
Barely one week after the Super Bowl, seven of the top NFL players are on a six-day tour of Israel after landing in the Jewish state on Tuesday night. Their visit has already evoked feelings of awe and wonder at the sense of spirituality and connection with God in the land of Israel.
Protest against former Israeli minister Dan Meridor at King’s College London. Photo: Screenshot.
The representative body of British Jewry said it’s “appalled” by a protest staged at King’s College London (KCL) on Monday against a lecture by a former Israeli minister, during which audience members “were barracked and intimidated in a completely unacceptable way.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews condemned some 50 protesters who targeted individuals entering and exiting a talk with Dan Meridor — a former deputy prime minister and minister of intelligence in the Israeli government — with loud chants of “shame” and “criminal,” according to video footage.
For the moment, an Israel-Iran nuclear war is logically out of the question. After all, Iran is not yet an operational nuclear power, and there is no point in presuming any possibilities for a scientific investigation. Nonetheless, in national survival matters, prudence should take innovative forms, and the July 14, 2015 Vienna Pact (JCPOA) concerning Iranian nuclear weapons will not constrain Tehran indefinitely.
In the very early nineties, the Democrats were as obsessed with cocaine as they are now are with Russia. The cocaine in question was alleged to have been bought by Vice President Dan Quayle. The 1992 election was coming up. The decades of corruption, slime, and lies by the Clintons were about to pay off.
President George H.W. Bush was enjoying high approval ratings. Bill Clinton would weasel and claw his way to the front of the line largely because the election seemed like a lot of cause for the Democrats.
“Merkel will govern…but her government will be under the heading ‘this will not be long.’ This refers to Merkel, and also to the fact that in many parts of the country there is the feeling that ‘this’ should not continue.” — Kurt Kister, Editor-in-Chief, Süddeutsche Zeitung.
“The CDU retains control of the beautiful-sounding, but in fact powerless, Ministry of Economy, the unpopular Ministry of Health, the crisis-prone Ministry of Defense and the shadowy existence of ministerial posts in the Chancellery, for education and agriculture. That is little for the strongest faction in the Bundestag.” — Editorial, Münchner Merkur.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made headlines on Jan. 2 by saying that President Donald Trump has decided to stop funding UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency until the Palestinians agree to come to the negotiating table. On Jan. 16, the president—on the advice of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—agreed to transfer $60 million for now, as opposed to slashing all of the funding overnight. But the other $65 million of this usual installment has been held in reserve. The total amount of money paid to UNRWA by American taxpayers is approximately $370 million per year.
On Wednesday night Israelis received yet another demonstration of the country’s desperate need for legal reform.
The media in Israel – like their counterparts in the US – tout themselves as democracy’s watchdogs. But on Wednesday night, we saw once again that our fiercest journalists are actually the lapdogs of our unelected legal fraternity, whose members share their hatred for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their general attachment to the ideological Left.