The Maneater

Israeli photojournalist speaks at MU campus about Gaza Conflict

Noam Bedein provides his take on the complex and heated Gaza debate.

Noah Bedein, an Israeli photojournalist, came to MU to speak on behalf of the Gaza conflict. Courtesy of Sderot Media Center

Noam Bedein, an Israeli photojournalist and director of the Sderot Media Center, spoke to a full crowd at Mumford Hall on Oct. 3.

Chabad at Mizzou arranged his talk to shed light on the underrepresented Israeli victims of terrorism attacks on the Gaza border, Daniel Swindell, a volunteer for Chabad at Mizzou, said. Bedein specifically focused on the Israeli town of Sderot, known as the bomb shelter capital of the world.

“Hamas has attached rags to kites and they are flying the kites into Israel,” Swindell said. “Those kites have burned about 10,000 acres and keep in mind that israel is a small country — it’s about the size of New Jersey.”

Palestinians launched these kites in response to Israeli’s dealings with the Gaza protests, where 180 palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Al-Jazeera. Bedein works on media campaigns to show the damage caused by the flying kites. During the presentation, Bedein said it’ll take 40 years for damaged areas to regrow.

Bedein also focused on Sderot being a major target for rockets.

“The intentions and causes are completely black and white, there’s no excuse or reason in the world that can be given for firing rockets on a civilian population,” Bedein said. “My experience with this town, when I first moved in, was waking up to a siren every morning.”

He said he realizes that there are many gray areas of the conflict, but civilian casualties always remain black and white.

Sderot, because of its proximity to the Gaza-Israel border, is highly susceptible to air-born attacks from Hamas, a militant Palestinian organization recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and a number of other westernized countries.

“Go compare PTSD to physical damages, injuries or blood. It doesn't get across. It’s hard to show psychologically,” Bedein said.

Bedein acknowledges the suffering of the Gaza Strip civilians, but wants to publicize the suffering of Israeli people. The post-traumatic stress disorder experienced by the people, including the children, is another issue, Bedein said.

After the presentation, some audience members disagreed with Bedein’s description of the issue as “black and white,” and many said he was misrepresenting Palestinians and their suffering in the presentation.

Swindell had his own experience in Sderot, seeing the damage caused by the rockets.

“I actually met Noam on a tour of Sderot, he gave me a tour six years ago, and something that stayed with me tremendously is that I saw a school building, and it had a large black mark right in front of the doors, and I asked him, ‘What is that, is that for real?’ and he said, ‘Yeah that’s where a rocket hit,’” Swindell said. “Right in front of the doors. It hit the top of the building.”

As for relevance towards American college students, Bedein said the conflict is important for understanding both sides of any debate.

“Our conflict specifically has a huge impact in college campuses in the United States. Students think they know it all,” Bedein said. “They get emotionally attached to one side of the story without knowing the other side of the story, without understanding it, without getting an accurate understanding. Because a lot of the emotions involved with this conflict, people get very hysterical about it, they become very loud.”

It’s hard for American students to comprehend the whole situation, he said, which is why he has spoken to over 200 college campuses about his experience in Israel.

Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | crosen@themaneater.com

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