Friday, November 29, 2013

Why Isn’t the World More Thankful to Israel?


Israel is a world leader in humanitarian aid yet it is rarely recognized for this great quality.
LI_FeaturedImage_11282013_Flickr_11063038594_215da1efdc_z_Philippines The Israeli delegation has just returned from the Philippines after nearly two weeks of providing emergency care to the island nation’s survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. According to the Jerusalem Post the first baby delivered by the Israeli medical teams was named “Israel.”
In fact Israel – the IDF particularly – has been one of the world’s great first responders in recent years, helping countries across the globe deal with the results of man made and natural disasters. The IDF has a map on its blog, with links to many of its notable accomplishments.

View #IDFWithoutBorders in a larger map
Japan, 2011, Earthquake/Tsunami
According to the IDF:
The majority of the medical equipment taken to Japan by the IDF, including x-ray machinery and lab equipment, will remain in Japan in order to benefit the physicians and local authorities providing care to the community of Minamisanriku and its vicinity. …

The IDF Aid Delegation departed for the disaster-struck zone two weeks ago, and included a team of medical specialists from the Medical Corps, Home Front Command Search and Rescue experts, as well as logistics and communications personnel.
During their stay, IDF Medical Corps physicians treated 220 patients.
Haiti, 2010, Earthquake
First baby Delivered in Haiti
According to the IDF:
The IDF Medical and Rescue team, including personnel and equipment for setting up a field hospital and a small rescue team, left for Haiti 11 days ago, on January 15th 2010, and had a significant role in providing aid to survivors of the earthquake.
During their stay in Haiti, the delegation treated more than 960 patients, conducted 294 successful surgeries, delivered 16 births including three in caesarian sections and saved many from within the ruins.
Some Israeli teams actually stayed on longer after other international aid groups had left, occasioning this commentary from Frida Ghitis:
While the harshest critics of Israel’s morality, the countries that have done their best to smear Israel, did not lift a finger to help Haiti. Israel, a land smaller than New Hampshire, sent hundreds of emergency workers, one of the largest contingents. When other countries started packing, Israeli said they will stay there at least another month.
Israel’s demonizers will concoct sinister reasons for Israel’s good deeds. You can count on that. Israel’s response to Haiti’s plight shows the country’s true face — a face its enemies don’t want you to see.
Southeast Asia, 2004-5, Tsunami
According to Israel 21c:
Jerusalem was asked – and agreed – to send trauma experts to help survivors of Sri Lanka cope with the tragedy, while Thailand’s government turned to Israel’s forensic experts for help in identification of thousands of victims.
Israel is currently providing aid to some countries with which it does not have diplomatic relations, such as Sri Lanka and Indonesia.
This week, an El Al plane carrying 60 tons of aid landed in Indonesia – a country which has the largest Moslem population in the world, and no ties with Israel.
India, 2001, Earthquake
According to the IDF:
On January 26, 2001, an earthquake hit the the city of Gujarat, India. The earthquake reached 7.7 on the Richter Scale, killing approximately 20,000 people, and injuring another 167,000. It also destroyed nearly 400,000 homes, leaving 600,000 people homeless.
The IDF delegation of search and rescue soldiers created a field hospital (in close proximity to the disaster site) with 100 beds. The delegation treated up to 1,300 injured, performed 52 surgeries and delivered 12 babies.
As in the Philippines and Turkey (see below), a child born in one of the field hospitals was named Yisraela. (The online source for this story is no longer available.)
Turkey, 1999, Earthquake
The New York Times reported:
Eight babies have been born here since the quake. One boy was named Israel, and one girl is called Ziona. Their names are symbols of how firmly the earthquake has sealed the alliance between Israel and Turkey.
”God bless the Israelis,” said one new mother, Serap Balcioglu, whose child was born blue and seemingly lifeless but was revived by an emergency team at the hospital. ”They’re taking beautiful care of me. What would we do without them?”
In 2011, after initially rebuffing an Israeli offer of aid following an earthquake, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan requested temporary housing from Israel. But his initial refusal to request aid prompted a survivor to complain:
“The prime minister runs for help when it’s Palestine or Somalia, sends ships to Palestine, almost goes into war with Israel for the sake of Palestinians, but he doesn’t move a muscle when it comes to his own people…”
Kenya, 1998, Terrorism
According to the IDF:
On August 7th 1998, a car bomb exploded near the US embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Prime Minister of Israel sent an IDF aid delegation. The task force consisted of approximately 170 people, including search and rescue teams and medical experts. The task force personnel rescued three survivors and recovered 95 bodies. The Israeli team was the first foreign mission to reach the site and began working immediately.
The LA Times reported:
They honed their skills after earthquakes in Mexico and Armenia, bombs in Argentina and Scud missile attacks at home in Israel. Now world experts at rescuing the living from rubble and recovering the dead, Israeli soldiers are running a round-the-clock effort to dig Kenyans out of the ruins left by a terrorist bomb.
“You are heroes,” a Red Cross volunteer shouted at the Israelis on Sunday.
“We are not heroes. We are only working,” Maj. Ofer Pomeranz answered with a modest shrug.
Argentina, 1994, Terrorism
AIMA Bombing
According to the IDF:
On July 18, 1994 terrorists committed a massive attack on the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association building in Buenos Aires. The terrorist attack killed 85 and injured hundreds. It was Argentina’s deadliest bombing ever. Argentina has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.
On the 19th of July a team of search and rescue and other military staff landed in Buenos Aires. The team began working immediately after their arrival to Argentina and developed a new system into which the Argentinians adapted. The system of search and rescue was so advanced that the teams were able to complete more in the first two hours upon their arrival than was previously accomplished in the two days prior.
This is only a sampling of Israel’s many humanitarian missions over the years. There have been more including sending a team to Cameroon in 1986 after a poison cloud emerged from a lake killing hundreds of villagers and a group of medical professionals to Central America in the aftermath of the devastating Hurricane Mitch. I could also mention that while the world fiddles around with Syria, over 100 Syrians have temporarily escaped the ravages of war there and gotten treatment in Israel. In recent weeks two Syrian babies were born in Israel too.
There are number of ironies with these missions.
Irony #1
Two weeks ago the Palestinian media reported that Ismail Haniyeh’s granddaughter had been transferred to an Israeli hospital. The Algemeiner noted at the end of its report:
There was no word on who would cover the cost of treatment, but in most cases Israel foots the bill for Palestinians seeking treatment in the country.
The irony here is astounding. The granddaughter of a man whose career goal is the destruction of Israel was cared for by an Israeli hospital at Israel’s expense!
Irony #2
Last week the world hailed a nuclear agreement between the P5 + 1 countries and the new “moderate” regime in Iran. This regime includes a justice minister called the “minister of murder” for his involvement in the summary executions of thousands of prisoners in the late 1980′s and a defense minister who was instrumental in establishing Hezbollah as an international terror organization and was responsible for the marine barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983. It is a regime that represses its own people and is fully behind the murderous regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. This is also the nation that allowed its citizens to die rather than accept help from the “Zionist regime.”
The true face of Israel is one that aids anyone regardless of skin color, religion or even friendship. The true face of Israel’s enemies is pathological enmity that can never be erased.
Given its record, why isn’t Israel viewed as a generous, even progressive nation? And why doesn’t the world thank Israel for all it does instead of endlessly condemning it?
[Photo Credits: Israel Defense Forces / Flickr ]

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