Moyal – 'I'm not demanding Olmert's resignation '
Photo: Niv Calderon
Rabbi Pendel - 'Yeshiva boys part of every aspect of town life'
Photo: Jonathan Zur

Sderot protests fueled by right-wing agenda?

As the bright orange so identified with Israel's nationalist Right gradually grows more dominant at Sderot rallies, can we ask if the resurgence in efforts to garner support for Sderot's struggle is being carried on politically-motivated shoulders?

Has the Right seized control of Sderot's cause? The resurrection of Sderot's struggle to raise public awareness for the plight of their rocket-battered town is being led by four key figures. Mayor Eli Moyal of the Likud, Chairman of the Committee for a Secure Sderot Alon Davidi who is a member of the National

Union, Batya Katar of Arcadi Gaydamak's 'Social Justice' movement and Rabbi David Pendel – head of the hesder yeshiva in Sderot.


Over the past week hundreds have marched, blocked main traffic routes and set up protest tents in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in demonstration against Israel's inability to put an end to the Qassam attacks plaguing the country's southern communities.


But the sea of protestors clad in red - a color which has long since become a symbol of Sderot's outcry – seems to be increasingly dotted by orange, the instantly recognizable color of the Right's campaign against the disengagement from Gaza in 2005.


'Though we stand out, we're only a part of this'

For some time now the local hesder yeshiva can be found taking the lead in numerous town projects, including social initiatives and the many town protests. Some 500 young men attend the yeshiva and while most are not residents of Sderot, a great many of the institution's married graduates have chosen to move to the Qassam-stricken town with their families.


The students attend nearly all of the town's functions and volunteer to help residents during rocket barrages. The yeshiva also operates a fund which hands out provisions to underprivileged residents every weekend.


"I am a resident of Sderot and a father of seven," Rabbi Pendel told Ynet, "and we are raising yeshiva students here who are part of the town, who live here and suffer from the rockets just like everybody else."


As for the growing prominence of orange at rallies, Pendel said "I think that its simply very difficult for Joe Citizen to spur the protest, they're caught up in the already overburdening troubles of the day-to-day and our boys make an enormous contribution.


"Not only to the demonstrations but in every aspect of town life. So to say this is an 'orange' protest or a protest of any particular political stripe is absolutely wrong. While it is true that we stand out, we are only a part of the effort."


Mayor Moyal said he views all protesters first and foremost as residents of Sderot. "I don't care if Alon Davidi identifies with Effie Eitam or Batya Katar with Gaydamak. We are all here together because we are residents of this town and what we have in common is our struggle against the Qassams. So long as these demonstrations are held in accordance with the law, I support them and I will take part of them.


"My message is not to call on (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert to resign or to criticize any one minister, we

are just asking to live in peace. I believe that this simple and subdued protest will be much more powerful."


Moyal, who has moved his office to Jerusalem and is holding meetings in the protest tent erected outside the Knesset, said the public's response has been overwhelming. "Citizens from all over the country have come to join us," he said. 


פרסום ראשון: 02.12.08, 20:54
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