imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Another Side of Israel: The Impact of Tikkun Olam

by Avi mayer Thursday, Mar. 28, 2013 at 5:54 PM

A side of Israel we never hear about

All about Israel's commitment to humanitarianism and international development, a principle that has accompanied the country throughout its existence and is enshrined in a document no less essential than its 1948 Declaration of Independence.

On a chilly day in the middle of February, seven young Syrian men appeared near the border fence separating the Syrian and Israeli sides of the wind-swept Golan Heights. Suffering from gunshot wounds, their bodies riddled with shrapnel, they called out to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers guarding their side of the fence and asked for permission to draw near. When the IDF soldiers saw the Syrians' condition, they immediately permitted them entry, provided them with first aid, and transported them in military ambulances to Ziv Hospital in the northern Israeli town of Safed for further treatment.

"This is not the first time in the hospital's history that we have received wounded individuals from the other side of the border," hospital director Dr. Oscar Embon later said. "It is always a humanitarian activity and we concentrate on the wounded as we would on any other wounded person, focusing solely on the medical issue without going into other matters. We treat every wounded person as he is, and it does not matter where the person comes from."

A Wellspring of Innovation

Much has been written about Israel's proud status as the Start-up Nation, as Dan Senor and Saul Singer put it so aptly in their book. With more companies on the NASDAQ than Europe, China, and Japan combined, and more high-tech start-ups per capita than any other nation, Israel is a veritable wellspring of innovation. Google, Microsoft, and Intel have long had a robust presence in Israel; Apple is reportedly planning to open a third R&D center in the country. Advances in a vast range of fields—from medicine to agriculture, and from alternative energy to nanotechnology—have emerged from this tiny strip of the Mediterranean coast.

But not as much is known about Israel's commitment to humanitarianism and international development, a principle that has accompanied the country throughout its existence and is enshrined in a document no less essential than its 1948 Declaration of Independence.

Commitment to Humanitarianism

"We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness," the Declaration reads, "and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The State of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East."

This vision of international cooperation had, in fact, been laid out 52 years earlier, in the foundational text of the modern Zionist movement. In closing his seminal book, Der Judenstaat (The State of the Jews), in 1896, Theodor Herzl wrote the following: "Whatever we attempt [in the state of the Jews] for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind."

It may be argued that Israel's commitment to humanitarianism is rooted even deeper, in what the Declaration of Independence calls "the eternal Book of Books." The traditional Jewish commitment to tikkun olam ("Repairing the World") has long served as an inspiration for social action, from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel's participation in the 1965 Selma Civil Rights March alongside Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to more recent activism aimed at bringing an end to the genocide in Darfur. It would seem only natural that the reconstituted Jewish State would seek to embody such a cardinal tenet of the Jewish ethical code.

Dr. Arye Oded, a former Israeli ambassador to several African countries, traces the genesis of Israel's overseas development activities to a diplomat named David Hacohen. Writing in Jewish Political Studies Review, Oded notes that Hacohen, serving as Israel's first ambassador to Burma in 1953, arranged for Israeli experts in a variety of fields to visit the Southeast Asian country and for their Burmese counterparts to travel to Israel for training. "Hacohen's work became a model for Israeli aid," Oded writes.

Later, Elyashiv Ben-Horin, a foreign ministry official, formally proposed the establishment of "a fund to provide technical assistance to Asian and African countries. Professionally speaking, our… experience can easily compete with [that of] other countries." Teddy Kollek, then Director General of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's office and later mayor of Jerusalem, was also active in promoting aid programs for developing countries.

It is important to note that Israel, a nascent country less than a decade, was at the time contending with immense challenges, including a wave of immigration that had more than doubled the country's population, high unemployment, an austerity regime, and the constant threat of armed conflict with its neighbors. The country was still engaged in the process of building its own national institutions—Israel's first currency, the lira, only went into circulation in 1952 and the Bank of Israel, the Central Bank, was founded in 1954—and tens of thousands of immigrants still lived in tent cities known as Ma'abarot.

The Legacy of International Development

Yet the commitment to international development ran deep among the country's early leaders. As Dr. Aliza Belman-Inbal, a former MASHAV official who is currently a fellow at Tel-Aviv University, and Shachar Zahavi, director of the humanitarian nonprofit IsraAID, wrote in a 2009 report on Israel's development activities: "As Zionists, they aspired to establish Israel as a model amongst emerging states, leading the way forward for others to develop as Israel had. This deep sense of mission informed the commitment to development, in post-colonial Africa and elsewhere, of former Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir."

As it happened, Meir—then Israel's foreign minister—accepted Ben-Horin's recommendation and in 1957 MASHAV (a Hebrew acronym for "The Center for International Cooperation and Aid," but more commonly translated as "The Agency for International Development Cooperation") was born.

During its first decade, MASHAV trained more than 10,000 individuals from more than 90 countries and dispatched more than 4,000 Israeli experts across the globe. A 1960 MASHAV-sponsored conference on "the advancement of new states" drew 120 delegates from 40 countries, including President Joseph Kasa-Vubu of the Republic of the Congo, who arrived in Israel a mere five days after his own country was formed. A 1962 article about MASHAV in the British newspaper, The Guardian, noted: "Israel's policy toward Sub-Saharan Africa should perhaps be seen in wider terms, and should be recognized to be not just part of its defense line against the Arab world, but also of a genuine desire to help. Africans respond because they recognize this."

Consider the following statement by Belman-Inbal and Zahavi: "During the 1960s and 1970s, when Israel was itself still a developing country, it had a bilateral aid program comparable, relative to the size of its economy, to that of the major, developed-country donors of the time." By the late 1960s and early 1970s, MASHAV's international development activities were among the most extensive of national aid agencies. Belman-Inbal and Zahavi note that a 1975 report by the UN Development Program named Israel as the largest single contributor of expertise per capita of any nation in the world.

Since then, MASHAV's activities have only grown. In the fifty-five years since its establishment, the center has undertaken training and development projects in more than 130 countries. Some 270,000 individuals have participated in MASHAV courses, both in Israel and abroad. Today, MASHAV's activities focus on the mitigation of poverty, provision of food security, empowerment of women, and enhancement of basic health and education.

"MASHAV's philosophy is to encourage professionals from the developing world to find their own solutions to development issues and to adapt them to the reality of their countries' specific needs and potential," Ambassador Daniel Carmon, MASHAV's current director, said in 2012. "Israel, through MASHAV, is sharing its know-how in agriculture, health, energy, education, the empowerment of women, and so many other fields where the Israeli experience can make a difference."

But while Israel's aid activities in the realms of food security and agricultural innovation have improved countless lives over time, the country's lifesaving expertise is more immediately sought in times of crisis. Having endured seven wars and thousands of terror attacks over the course of its sixty-five-years, Israel has developed emergency know-how and crisis protocols that are readily shared in times of need.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, no fewer than sixteen IDF emergency aid missions have been dispatched across the globe over the past twenty-eight years. From Mexico to Kenya and from Turkey to Japan, thousands of people have been provided with medical care, and hundreds have been saved from certain death.

When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, a 220-person IDF aid mission was one of the first dispatched to the island nation. Upon the delegation's arrival, it split into two teams: the first, comprised of search and rescue specialists, immediately went to work sifting through the rubble in search of survivors; the second, a medical delegation, set up a field hospital in a Port-au-Prince soccer stadium.

During the IDF mission's time in Haiti, the medical team treated 1,100 patients, performed more than 300 lifesaving surgeries, and delivered 16 babies—one of whom, a little girl, was named Israel by her grateful

mother.

Observers marveled at what Israel was able to achieve. "I'm just amazed. I'm just amazed at what's here," said CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen as she walked past a large Star of David placed on the soccer field in a segment that aired in the earthquake's aftermath. "This is—this is like another world compared to the other hospital." "One unit has become legendary: the Israeli medical unit," said ABC's Diane Sawyer, in a segment featuring the network's medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser. "The Israelis arrived here Friday night; by Saturday morning they had set up a field hospital," Besser said. "As you walk through this campus, it has military precision. You see a pediatric ward, you see a maternity ward, a newborn intensive care unit."

Israeli nonprofit organizations remain in Haiti, continuing humanitarian work to this day in cooperation with MASHAV.

In August 2012, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit published an interview with Lt. Col. A., commander of the Israel Air Force squadron responsible for flying the aid missions around the world. He said:

As I see it, [the aid missions are] part of the Jewish identity that obliges each and every one of us to aid people in time of need, anywhere in the world. I have no doubt that whenever and wherever help will be needed, we will arrive. As an Israeli citizen and an IDF soldier, I see myself obligated to every person in need—whether he's Israeli or not. Our commitment to people in need is not a national one, but a universal one.

Neighborly Assistance

Closer to home, Israel has often extended humanitarian assistance to its neighbors, despite ongoing tensions.

According to the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Defense Ministry department responsible for implementing government policy vis-à-vis the West Bank and Gaza Strip, 210,469 Palestinians in need of medical care were admitted into Israel to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals in 2012. A report by the World Health Organization found that 91.5% of applications to enter Israel for medical purposes were approved in 2012, while a further 7.2% were awaiting approval, pending security clearance.

Israeli nongovernmental organizations play an important role as well. One NGO, Save a Child's Heart (SACH), works with Israeli government agencies and medical centers to provide lifesaving medical treatment to children from 44 developing countries, including some that do not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel. Approximately half of the 3,000 children treated through the program have been Palestinians, 70% of whom have come from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Though Iraq has been at a state of war with Israel since 1948, dozens of Iraqi children have received medical care in the Jewish state. SACH is the largest organization of its kind in the world and all medical staff involved in the program work voluntarily.

These activities continue even during hostilities. Writing in The Jewish Week one week after the November 2012 clashes between Hamas and Israel, Lt. Nira Lee described her work as a COGAT liaison officer on the Gaza-Israel border:

Had you told me four years ago that there were IDF officers who stayed up all night under a hail of rockets, brainstorming ways to import medical supplies and food to the people of Gaza, I am not sure I would have believed you. But I can tell you it is true because I did it every night.

What amazed me the most was the singular sense of purpose that drove everyone from the base commander to the lowest ranking soldier. We were all focused completely on our mission: to help our forces accomplish their goals without causing unnecessary harm to civilian lives or infrastructure. Maybe stories such as these make for less exciting headlines, but if they received more attention there would perhaps be more moral clarity, and thus more peace in the Middle East.

A Light Among Nations

The seven Syrian men who staggered toward their country's border with Israel in February knew that their supposed enemy to the southwest would come to their aid when they needed it most. Indeed, Israel's commitment to helping those in need is embedded in the country's national DNA. It has manifested itself throughout Israel's existence and continues to do so in a myriad of ways, both close to home and at the furthest reaches of the globe.

Perhaps, as Lt. Lee notes, if Israel's national dedication to tikkun olam were better known among both its friends and its foes, we might be one step further toward repairing our fractured world.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 6 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
the most amoral write about morals what a load! Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013 at 3:29 AM
Jewish Agency official Avi Mayer blames Israel’s social media ineptness on "lying" Palesti crazy_inventor Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013 at 5:38 AM
oh Free Palestine Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013 at 7:40 AM
the point is to show Avi Mayer crazy_inventor Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013 at 10:43 AM
is there any difference? Prime1 Tuesday, Apr. 02, 2013 at 10:51 AM
side stepping falls short time after time PrionPartyy Friday, Apr. 05, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy