Ahead of visit, Sderot residents say Obama has the power to change the world

By Mijal Grinberg
July 23, 2008

The corridors of the Sderot town hall were empty yesterday. Mayor Eli Moyal did not report to work and many of the top officials’ offices were locked.

In the streets, election posters for the mayoral candidates were evident but there were few signs of activity. All of these were symbols of the locals’ need for leadership.

Judging by conversations with residents on the eve of Barack Obama’s visit to the town, it seems that the only leadership that might be able to affect the fate of Sderot is the United States’ presidency.

Obama is scheduled to visit the home of the Amar family, which is being renovated after a Qassam strike, and the Sderot police station. Sasson Sara, a mayoral candidate who operates a kiosk in the town, plans on “ambushing” Obama and giving him a letter with a request to change Iraqi law so that his family’s assets, left behind when they immigrated to Israel, can be restored to them.

Sasson is serious. He has a detailed list of the assets. “This way, [Obama] will have to take a stand on Iraq,” he explains. His daughter, meanwhile, asks whether the profits from sales of the family’s property in Iraq will suffice to buy a house in Caesarea.

Sasson is not the only one in Sderot who seems to think that Obama has the power to change the world. Koby Avital, sitting at the Tnuvaleh restaurant, explains. “I wanted Clinton, but maybe someone who came from behind is better able to think in both directions. Maybe if he’s close to Islam he can connect the both sides, to do something that hasn’t been done before.”

Sderot Police Chief Shimon Nahmani agrees with Avital. “Obama, because he’s black, could have fallen into the trap of saying things to please the Jewish majority,” Nahmani explains. He says he’s happy Obama avoided the pitfall; despite the temptation to talk about war in order to gain votes, he speaks about peace in the Middle East. Nahmani is slated to brief Obama on the security situation in Sderot today.

Pini Amar is happy the senator will be his family’s guest. “The fact that a presidential candidate is coming to the people to see the situation from up close is very impressive,” Amar said.

URL: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1004494.html


~ by J. F. Brenner on July 23, 2008.

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