Senator John McCain arrived in the Israeli city of Sderot on Wednesday. Visiting an Israeli city that has suffered more than 900 missile attacks from Gaza since the first of the year, and flanked by two of his strongest supporters in the US Senate – Senator Joseph Lieberman, a veteran independent and former Democrat of Connecticut, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina, McCain saw for himself what Israelis are going through.

McCain met a crowded room of reporters at the Sderot Community Center after visiting the Amar family whose home was devastated by a Kassam missile on December 13th last year. He then visited the Sderot police station, where he viewed a display of Kassam missile parts, the same missiles that have hit the area on a regular basis over the past seven years.

McCain opened up the press conference with remarks about how people in Sderot have been suffering, and wimentioned how shocked he was that entire families,and indeed, the entire population, was living under a constant threat which gave them only fifteen seconds to seek shelter. “That’s no way to live,” said McCain, who went on to pronounce a non-sequitor that “Israel should indeed respond to these attacks, and continue the peace process.”

This reporter had the lead-off question and I asked Senator McCain, “In light of what has happened in Sderot as a direct cause of Israel’s handover of Gaza territory where Israel’s enemies transformed abandoned Israeli communities into forward attack bases from where they now launch missiles into Israel, do you still maintain your support of further Israeli withdrawals?”

McCain seemed miffed at the question, and only stated that “these are issues to be worked out between Israelis and Palestinians”.

McCain went on to say that he supports Bush’s vision for a Palestinian state.

McCain said that he accepted the idea that Fatah leaders represent a “moderate” entity that Israel can deal with and he lavished praise on PA leader Machmud Abbas, a.k.a. Abu Mazen, and Salman Fiad, PA Prime Minister. McCain said that both were men who endorse peace and reconciliation. McCain emphasized that he could make peace with these “voices of moderation”.

Lieberman and Graham were quick to add their own words of praise for the current leaders of the Fatah, both Senators urging everyone to deal with these Palestinian “moderates.”

Neither McCain nor his colleagues indicated that they knew about the continuing involvement of the Fatah organization in terror and in attempted terror activities, or the praise of same by thier leadership.

Anyone who expected Senator McCain to issue a “fire and brimstone” lecture in Sderot where McCain would call for massive retaliation into Gaza that day wasin for a disappointment

McCain’s policies sounded like the Oslo process all over again.

A REDEZVOUS WITH A KASSAM-HIT FAMILY

After the press conference with McCain, a tour was given of the home of the Amar family, who had welcomed McCain and his entourage into their bombed-out home, where a huge hole in the roof remains overlooking the Amar family’s dining room.

Aliza Amar, an elderly wheelchair-bound stroke victim, simply did not make it to a more protected part of the house within the fifteen seconds, and suffered wounds in her leg from the shrapnel

McCain asked Israel’s Minister of Defense Ehud Barak why the Amar home had not been repaired after three months. Barak replied that “we are having problems with the government at this time,” speaking as if he were not part of the government.

McCain, however, kept repeating the question why the government of Israel was not doing enough to help its citizens whose homes have been hit.

Pinchas and Aliza Amar, along with Shula Sasson, their neighbor, when asked what it was like having an American presidential candidate in their midst, responded that they “respected Senator 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.” At least one presidential candidate took the initiative to see it.

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.