Sderot, Israel – Sen. John McCain arrived in the Israeli city of Sderot yesterday, visiting an Israeli city that has suffered more than 900 Gaza missile attacks since the first of the year, flanked by two of his strongest supporters in the U.S. Senate – Sen. Joseph Lieberman, a veteran independent and former Democrat of Connecticut, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina.
Mr. McCain met a crowded room of reporters at the Sderot Community Center after visiting the Amar family in Sderot, whose home that had been devastated by a Kassam missile last Dec. 13. He also visited the Sderot police station, where he viewed a display of Kassam missile parts that had hit the area over the past seven years.
Mr. McCain opened up the press conference with remarks of how people in Sderot had been suffering, during which he mentioned how shocked he was that entire families – and indeed, the entire population – was living under a constant threat which required them to take cover in 15 seconds.
“That’s no way to live,” said Mr. McCain, and went on to pronounce a seeming non sequitur: that “Israel should indeed respond to these attacks, and continue the peace process.”
The Bulletin posed the lead-off question, asking Sen. McCain: “In light of what had happened in Sderot as a direct cause of Israel’s handover of territory where Israel’s enemies have transformed abandoned Israeli communities into forward attack bases from where they now launch missiles into Israel, do you maintain your support of further Israeli withdrawals?”
Mr. McCain seemed miffed at the question, and only stated that “these are issues to be worked out between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Mr. McCain went on to say that he support’s Mr. Bush’s vision for a Palestinian state.
Mr. McCain said that he accepted the idea that the Fatah leaders represent a “moderate” entity whom Israel can deal with. Mr. McCain lavished praise on PA leader Mahmoud Abbas, AKA Abu Mazen, and Salman Fiad, as men who endorses peace and reconciliation. Mr. McCain emphasized that he could make peace with these “voices of moderation.”
Mr. Lieberman and Mr. Graham were quick to ad their words of praise the current leaders of the Fatah, while both senators urged everyone to deal with these Palestinian “moderates.”
Neither Mr. McCain nor his colleagues indicated that they knew about the continuing involvement of the Fatah organization in terror and in attempted terror activities.
Anyone who expected Sen. McCain to issue a “fire and brimstone” lecture in Sderot where Mr. McCain would call for massive retaliation into Gaza was in for a disappointment.
Mr. McCain’s policies sound like the Oslo process all over again.
A Rendezvous With A Kassam-Hit Family
After the press conference with Mr. McCain, The Bulletin went to the home of the Amar family, who had welcomed Mr. McCain and his entourage into their bombed-out home, were a huge hole in the roof remains, overlooking the Amar’s dining room.
Aliza Amar, as a wheelchair-bound stroke victim, simply did not make it to a more protected part of the house, and therefore suffered wounds in her leg from the shrapnel.
Mr. McCain asked Israel Minister of Defense Barak as to why the Amar home had not been repaired after three months. Mr. Barak mentioned that “we are having problems with the government at this time,” speaking as if he were not part of the government.
Mr. McCain, however, kept repeating the question as to why the asking the government of Israel was not doing enough to help its citizens with whose homes have been hit.
The Bulletin asked Pinchas and Aliza Amar along with Shula Sasson, their neighbor, as to what it was like having an American presidential candidate in their midst. Their response was that they “respected Sen. McCain’s desire to o see the human effect of what was happening.”
In the words of Shula Sasson, “it is one thing to read about this in the papers and another thing to see it with your own eyes.”
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008