Eye on the Middle East Jul/Aug 2014
It doesn’t matter what you’re doing––bathing your 2-year-old, fixing dinner, or sleeping. You have only 11 seconds to run for safety from an incoming rocket when the siren sounds in Israel. Most people run into giant sewer pipes placed on the streets for shelter because there is nowhere else to go.
In March, Hamas fired more than 40 rockets in a single day from Gaza. In November 2012, it launched more than 1,400 rockets. So The Friends of Israel (FOI) set up the Israel Relief Fund on its website (foi.org), allowing people to make a difference with a donation. And the result is far better than a sewer pipe.
Donations were used to purchase two portable bomb shelters from Operation Lifeshield (operationlifeshield.org) for Netivot, a town within easy range of Hamas rockets. A shelter door weighs 500 pounds but is designed so a child can easily open and close it. To watch a brief video of a shelter being lowered into place in Netivot, go to foi.org/israel-relief-fund.
Other organizations that receive money from the Israel Relief Fund because they make a difference in the lives of Israelis are these:
Herzog Hospital. Fifteen percent of the patients at Herzog (herzoghospital.org) are Arab Muslims or Christians. A special Children Chronic Respiratory Care Department treats children ages three months to 18 years. Another department treats victims of terror and violence.
Boys Town. Boys Town is a private, 850-resident, 18-acre campus in Jerusalem. Founded in 1948, it takes boys ages 12 to 20 from troubled homes (single parents, troubled parents, or no parents) and provides housing, three meals a day, and one of the finest educations in the world. The organization (boystownjerusalem.org) gives these boys a protected, educated path to adulthood, with a network of lifelong relationships and a thorough knowledge of mathematics, engineering, and computer technology.
Magen David Adom. Taking Leviticus 17:11 literally––“The life of the flesh is in the blood”––Magen David Adom (mdais.com) provides 97 percent of Israel’s blood supply. Its Jerusalem command center coordinates 800 ambulances servicing the entire country. It also staffs motorcycle units that can maneuver in snarled traffic to arrive at a tragedy sooner than a conventional ambulance, often making the difference between life and death.
Michael Levin Lone Soldier Center. Michael Levin’s story was featured in the March/April 2014 issue of Israel My Glory. The center (lonesoldiercenter.com) helps people who immigrate to Israel alone and serve in the Israel Defense Forces. It provides counseling to help them function in a country where they have no family; provides everyday items, such as beds, furniture, and dishes; and creates a sense of community for them by providing a Sabbath meal at least once a month.
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. This organization (fidf.org) provides counseling, refreshments, and recreational items soldiers can use off hours. FOI’s money bought a recreational table for a Border Patrol command center located less than a mile from Palestinian Authority headquarters in Ramallah. The Patrol oversees 60 kilometers of security fence that protects Jerusalem from terrorist attacks. (Interesting note: Some areas of the fence are at odd angles, providing for an Arab man who asked that his home be on the Israeli side, rather than the Palestinian side.) The deputy battalion commander of the Border Patrol is Druze; his driver is Muslim; and an Armenian Christian is among the staff that provides safety for all Israelis––Jewish, Christian, and Arab.
Aviv Center. Dov Bikas, a Russian-Jewish believer and former drug addict, directs the Aviv Center (avivministry.com), a Christian ministry that preaches to and lives the gospel before drug addicts and prostitutes in the inner city of Tel Aviv. Along with a message of hope, the center offers a hot shower and a hot meal.
Israel is often portrayed as an apartheid, colonial, heartless obstacle to peace. These organizations tell the true story. All Israelis––Jewish, Christian, and Muslim––are beneficiaries of these services. What a privilege it is for The Friends of Israel to bless Israel and take a stand with the apple of God’s eye.