Life and love in Sderot, Southern Israel

December 15, 2008

It’s not all bad, Qassams notwithstanding, according to film-maker Laura Bialis, who found love in this most unlikely of places.

Sderot has been targeted by thousands of rockets and mortar shells since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza three years ago – to the world’s vast indifference, and also, sadly, Israel’s.

There seems little doubt that the Israeli government has abandoned Sderot to its fate for fear of offending international opinion by defending its people and territory from incessant attack. Just what the government thinks it can gain by this is far from clear, but whatever it is, it doesn’t seem to be working – least of all for the residents of the besieged and beleaguered city.

Bialis writes:

As all of this was happening, I fell in love with one of the subjects of my film – Avi Vaknin. First with his music, then with his lyrics – poignant and full of protest – and then with him. I will never forget the reaction of a colleague I was meeting in Tel Aviv. “Wow! You think of Sderot as a place where people are suffering through a war. It’s amazing to think that meanwhile, people are living their lives, people are even falling in love,” she marveled.

We decided to have our wedding here in Sderot, in our garden. That was strange for two reasons—most Israelis have huge weddings held in event halls, and secondly, nobody has events in Sderot. In fact, for five years, weddings, bar mitzvahs, brits…. have all been held outside of the city. Nobody wants to risk their event if there is a qassam that morning. What if people are afraid to come? What if you hire a caterer and then you’ve wasted all your money?

I found that very moving. But then, like Dolworth in The Professionals – my favourite Western – “I’m a born sucker for love”.

Hat tip: Rick Richman at Contentions (a daily must-read).


One comment

  1. Avi Hi. I have talked to u for 7 yrs. and U never told me of this.
    Of course there is a chance that u are not the man i have been talking to. But some of the facts sound familiar. I wish u well and lots of love. I am not your enemy dont forget me.

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