There is no doubt that Israeli rescue teams have done us proud in Haiti. See for example Israeli aid to Haiti. Israeli disaster missions and humanitarian aid are always given without strings, and the people who do it do not do it in anticipation of cheap "PR" that will improve Israel's "image." Such disaster aid missions have been sent to numerous countries, in addition to ongoing projects that provide cardiologists and opthalmologists to needy patients in developing countries. It is what we do, because that is who we are.
There is no doubt that we want people to see who we are and what we do, but when Haitians were yelling "bravo Israel" Major Zohar Moshe insisted, "It is not about that, it is about saving lives." About 200,000 people are estimated to have perished in the Haiti earthquake. This is a huge catastrophe. To put it in perspective, it is nearly ten times as many fatalities as Israel has suffered in all of our wars in our entire history, and about 70 times the number of fatalities caused by the Jihadist terror attacks of 9-11-01 in the United States.
Regrettably, there are cynical, tasteless and obsessed people do not understand that it is inappropriate to play politics with a disaster of this magnitude. Those who insisted on pointing out that Arab countries did not give aid to Haiti might be disappointed to see a Reuters/IRIN item about Arab aid to Haiti, including a Jordanian field hospital send January 14. This is a world class disaster and everyone should be, and is, pitching in. .
On the other hand, any time is the right time to dump on Israel for some people, and anything we do can be held against us. A CBS blog trumpeted " Pennies for Haiti, Billions for Israel, Egypt, as if US aid to Israel is at fault for the miserable condition of the Haitian economy and society. At least two Israeli Op-eds used Israeli aid to Haiti as an excuse and springboard for discussing what they wanted to discuss, which was totally unrelated. Gershon Baskin whined shamelessly:
But what about the humanitarian disaster in our own backyard caused in a large part by our own doing? What about Gaza? More than 1.5 million people are living in total poverty, without sanitary drinking water, under an economic and physical siege, locked in what could easily be called the world's largest prison. While we ask to see in all of the gory details, all of the destruction including hundreds of corpses on the streets of Port-au-Prince, we wish to see none of the human suffering of our Palestinian neighbors in Gaza where we literally hold the keys to the end of their suffering.
Not only don't we see their suffering, we simply don't care. Doesn't the concept of tikkun olam extend to our enemies? (Not all of Gaza's 1.5 million people are enemies; many of them, perhaps even most of them would like to live in peace with us.)
What has all this to do with Haiti? Absolutely nothing. The only connection is one made by a perverse mind. And what has Gaza poverty to do with Israel? Not as much as you might think. Gaza was not a bustling and advanced part of the world before 1948 or before the arrival of the evil Zionists. The standard of living in Gaza was not better a hundred years ago, and the infant mortality rate was not lower. It was about 300 out of a thousand infants, many times higher than today. Gaza under Egyptian rule was certainly no better than it is today. Tikkun olam does extend to our enemies. IDF set up a field hospital to treat Palestinian victims during Operation Cast Lead (aka "Gaza War of 2008") and Israeli hospitals have been treating Palestinian patients from Gaza even in the worst of times. One of them, as Baskin might remember, tried to use Israeli generosity to blow up Soroka hospital. It really isn't Israel's fault that Palestinians voted for Hamas or that Hamas chose to launch rockets and mortars at our towns. Baskin claims that "we" don't care. Perhaps he speaks for himself. Perhaps he is telling us that he doesn't care either about the suffering of the Palestinians or the dead people in Haiti. To an observer, it looks like he is just using suffering as a device to advance a political agenda - a good "issue."
Yoel Marcus's effort in this direction was less perverse, but it was nonetheless artificial exploitation of a "hot news item" as a springboard for discussing what he wants to discuss.
Every time disaster strikes anywhere in the world, I am filled anew with admiration at how ready and willing we are to assist, and how speedy, effective, organized and wholehearted that assistance is.
We did not rush aid to Haiti because there is a Jewish community there. We went there for humanitarian reasons. As a nation that has experienced disasters and bereavement for generations, other nations' disasters do not leave us indifferent...
It is easier for us to organize rescue operations outside Israel than do all that is necessary to advance peace inside it and thus prevent deadly attacks on our home front..
Well yes. It is also easier to organize rescue operations outside Israel than to fix the road safety problem or the problem of Israeli homeless or any other problem that needs fixing, so the deaths of 200,000 Haitians and the Israeli relief effort can be used as a platform for discussing just about anything you like.
The Hamas got into the act too, forgetting their complaint (Gershon Baskin take note) that Gazans are all starving in the Israeli siege, and launching their own relief effort for Haiti, alleging that the Israeli attack on Gaza was similar to the earthquake in Haiti. Not even Judge Goldstone, imagined that Israel killed 200,000 people in Gaza.
Nothing can top that of course, but no doubt something will.
Labels: Anti-Zionism, Haiti Relief, IDF, Zionism