From Bill Sutter’s Desk Jul/Aug 2010
The world is a strange place. What it needs the most is often what it hates the most. Of all the countries in the world, Israel is probably the most hated. People call it racist, try to impose sanctions against it, don’t want to trade with it, and don’t want to let it defend itself. Yet almost no nation does more to help its fellow man than Israel.
In fact, Israel Today reported in April that Israeli doctors operated on and saved the life of the three-year-old daughter of a top Hamas official and then allowed a Jordanian helicopter to transport her to Amman. To no one’s surprise, however, the father thanked Jordan, never mentioning Israel. And few news services carried the story.
Israel is always providing life-saving aid and relief to those struck by disaster. People around the world expressed shock when news of Haiti’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake began to flow from the island nation earlier this year. But Israel went into action. Within three days, Israel had established round-the-clock relief operations and set up the first on-the-scene hospital in a soccer field near the Port-Au-Prince airport. It immediately treated hundreds of victims, performed 104 life-saving operations, and delivered seven babies. One grateful mother named her newborn Israel to honor the country that helped her with his birth.
Israel’s field hospital staffed 40 doctors, 25 nurses, several paramedics, a pharmacy, children’s ward, radiology department, intensive-care unit, emergency room, two operating rooms, a surgical department, internal medicine department, and a maternity ward. CBS news reported that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hospital was the “Rolls Royce of medicine in Haiti.”
According to Daniel Biran, Israel’s ambassador of Administrative Affairs who served as Israel’s chief administrator in the Haiti relief operation, “In less than three weeks of the first patient being treated, 230 doctors, nurses, and rescue workers from the Israeli Army and the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs worked day and night to assist more than 1,200 cases. Life-saving operations were performed on 370 patients.” Israeli doctors helped 19 mothers give birth and gave new hope to Haiti. “We did everything according to the Jewish and Israeli spirit,” he said.
Two search and rescue teams, including the IDF’s Canine Unit, conducted rescue missions with people from other countries and local authorities. A rescue team of ultra-Orthodox men worked 38 continuous hours with others to pull eight students from the rubble of a collapsed eight-story university building. Amid the debris, they recited Shabbat prayers. Many Haitians sat quietly in the rubble, staring at the men wrapped in prayer shawls as they prayed facing Jerusalem. Then they crowded around the Israelis and kissed their prayer shawls.
The IDF’s National Search and Rescue Unit, founded in 1983, is a well-trained, highly skilled force of IDF regulars and reservists who are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Israel’s search and rescue personnel include doctors, engineers, heavy-equipment operators, and rescue-dog teams. They are deployed 24 hours a day, even to countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, whenever there is a disaster, such as an earthquake or tsunami or terrorist attack.
State-of-the-art, specialized equipment is used, including Israeli-developed devices for locating trapped victims by detecting the seismic and acoustic emissions they give off.
Israel’s worldwide humanitarian efforts have included assistance to earthquake victims in Mexico (1985), Armenia (1988), Turkey (1999), Greece (1999), and India (2001). Israel responded to terrorist bombings in Buenos Aires, Argentina (1984), and Nairobi, Kenya (1998). Israel also provided humanitarian aid to refugees of the Rwandan Civil War (1994) and the Kosovo conflict (1999). And when the catastrophic Hurricane Katrina hit the southern coastal areas of the United States in 2005, Israel rushed 80 tons of food, beds, blankets, generators, and medical equipment to the disaster site.
Isn’t it ironic that the country much of the world loves to hate responds to the world’s needs with a volume of disaster relief and humanitarian aid far in excess of its size and population? While Israel’s enemies direct hatred and violence against the Jewish state, the heart and soul of the people of Israel are reflected in actions that bring blessing to the world—friends and foes alike.
We shouldn’t be surprised by Israel’s disproportionately compassionate responses to the world’s humanitarian needs. The Bible provides the prophetic framework as God’s covenant with Abraham is confirmed to Jacob through Isaac in Genesis 28:14: “And in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”