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September 24, 2014 / 29 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Haiti’

Abbas Wins Recognition for PA from Haiti and Grenada

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas continues a quiet and determined global campaign for recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a country and now has brought Haiti and Grenada into the growing number of countries who have established diplomatic relations.

Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki signed the protocols with his Haitian and Grenadian counterparts at United Nations headquarters in New York on Friday, according to the official Palestinian Authority WAFA   news agency,

“The protocols stated that the governments of Palestine, Haiti and Grenada wish to strengthen relationship and cooperation between them and therefore decided to establish diplomatic relations effective immediately following the signing ceremonies,” the PA stated.

“It is a new success for Palestinian diplomacy,” he added.

The Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency reported that more than 130 countries maintain diplomatic relations and recognize the Palestinian Authority as a country.

Israeli Aid Missions Providing Relief to Hurricane Sandy Victims

Friday, November 9th, 2012

An Israeli delegation of trained rescue volunteers is departing to New York today, Friday, November 9, to assist victims devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The delegation is headed by Shahar Zahavi, CEO of IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) that has facilitated aid and relief program across the world, including in Haiti, Japan, Turkey, Kenya and South Sudan.

The 12-person delegation will be offering rescue, rehabilitation, and communal resource services to New York residents of Far Rockaway and Long Beach, as well as the Atlantic City-Margate area along the Jersey Shore. They will also be identifying areas with vulnerable populations and allocating resources to older people and families with young children who have suffered significant damages to their homes and have no power.

Financing for the mission comes from young Israelis and from Israeli businesses, alongside partner companies in the United States, which are supplying the Israeli crew with water, food, gasoline, clothing, blankets and storage facilities to distribute to people who have been evacuated from their homes.

According to spokesperson Tova Hametz the IsraAid delegation’s mission is to “rehabilitate, rescue, bolster morale and bring physical resources in the most effective, organized and expedient way.” She added that Zahavi has much experience in relief work following his mission in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

According to Israel’s foreign office, a number of Israeli NGOs are working to bring relief and supplies including food, fuel and generators to both victims and emergency workers in New York and New Jersey. Among those NGOs are Israel Flying Aid and Israeli Humanitarian Aid-LATET. Those efforts have been coordinated with local police departments, the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Jewish communities in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

One of the Israeli volunteers, Joel Leyden, helped organize an aid convoy from Connecticut to Long Island, bringing food and generators to first responders, fire departments, police, and to homes. He and other Israeli volunteers also passed out Dunkin’ Donuts to people waiting at gas stations.

“We wore our blue-and-white-Israeli hats to make sure they knew this aid was coming from the people of Israel,” said Leyden, according to the foreign office website.

Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricanes and the second-costliest after Hurricane Katrina. The October hurricane killed more than 110 people in 10 states, left more than 8 million homes and businesses in the Northeast without electricity, and tens of thousands of Americans homeless.

‘The Occupation Made Me Beat My Wife’: Distorting Scholarship to Libel Israel

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Jews have been accused of harming and  murdering of non-Jews since the 12th century in England, when the Jewish convert to Catholicism Theobald of Cambridge proclaimed that European Jews ritually slaughtered Christian children each year and drank their blood during Passover season.

That medieval blood libel, largely abandoned in the contemporary West, does, however, still appear as part of the Arab world’s vilification of Jews – now transmogrified into a slander against Israel, the Jew of nations.

But in the regular chorus of defamation against Israel by a world infected with Palestinianism, a new, more odious trend has begun to show itself: the blood libel has been revivified, but, to position Israel and Zionism as demonic agents in the community of nations, its primitive superstitions are now masked with a veneer of academic scholarship and politicized scientific study.

In March, to cite the latest instance of this trend, the findings of a study conducted by the New Weapons Research Group, a team of scientists based in Italy, were announced on “the use of unconventional weapons and their mid-term effects on the population of after-war areas,” in this case Gaza after Israel’s Cast Lead operations last year.

“Many Palestinian children still living in precarious situations at ground level in Gaza after Israeli bombing,” the study found, “have unusually high concentrations of metals in the hair, indicating environmental contamination, which can cause health and growth damages due to chronic exposure,” and these high levels were the direct result of Israeli bombs.

Moreover, suggested Professor Paola Manduca, one of the investigators, the presence of metals in children’s hair “presents serious problems in the current situation in Gaza, where the construction and removal of damaged structures is difficult or impossible, and,” in case anyone does not know who to blame, “certainly represents the major responsibility of those who should remedy the damage to the civilian population under international law.”

Environmental contamination of children is certainly a critical issue to address and identify, but questions arise from this particular study due to the shabby way the controls and research were conducted.

Was it actually Israeli weaponry that contributed to high metal levels in the hair of the studied group? Are those levels significantly different in Gaza, or do they parallel other high-density cities with refineries, smelters, and other form of pollutants that arise from other, non-military sources?

Was the same group of subjects tested prior to Operation Cast Lead to see changes in the incidence of metals in hair after the incursion? Were groups in other towns, which had not been bombed, tested as well, and how do those levels compare with the test group?

In fact, in a study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences between 1998 and 2000, blood lead levels in children 2-6 years of age in Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority were studied, and, even at that time, “high levels in Gaza were all among children living near a battery factory,” suggesting that other causes may well be linked to metal levels on the children’s bodies.

 

* * * * *

Those who denounced Israel for what was characterized as its disproportionate response to Hamas rocket attacks during the Gaza offensive had other serious accusations, as well: namely, whether or not Israel used white phosphorous as a military tool (allowed by international law) or as a weapon against human targets (which is illegal).

Human rights groups and perennial Israel-haters wasted no time in suggesting that Israel was, in fact, employing the white phosphorous on hapless Gazans, a charge that seemed to be given credence by a recent article in the online journal Torture by J?rgen L. Thomsen and Martin Worm-Leonhard, complete with the misleading title of “The Detection of Phosphorus in the Tissue of Bomb Victims in Gaza.”

It happens, however, that the researchers, whose tissue samples were smuggled out of Gaza by “an acquaintance” and were transported in a most unscientific way, were unable to detect conclusively the occurrence of any white phosphorous in the studied tissue samples, despite their personal belief (and, seemingly, their desire) to have found evidence to the contrary.

 

* * * * *

When brutal military assaults and Israel’s use of weaponry cannot be blamed for causing health damage to non-Jews, Israel-haters are quick to condemn the alleged general oppression of Zionist occupation and brutality as detriments to Arab health and happiness.

In 2005, Psychologists for Social Responsibility took it upon itself to “condemn the Israeli Army’s use of psychological warfare against the Gaza population.” Israel, the group claimed, did so through the use of F-16 jet plane-generated “sonic booms” that are a “particularly pernicious form of psychological warfare.”

While they begrudgingly admit that the reason jet soirees were initiated against the Gazan population in the first place was the hundreds of rockets that had been raining down on Israeli neighborhoods in southern Israel, the psychologists’ concern never seemed to extend to Jewish children, nor did they call for an end to the terrorism that Israeli military operations were attempting to curtail.

But the sonic booms, nevertheless, were unacceptable.

That same year, as part of an unrelenting campaign to discredit Israel’s security barrier and position it as an “apartheid wall” that is emblematic of Zionism’s essential racism, the Palestinian Counseling Center concocted a “scientific” survey of the psychological effects on Palestinian mental health of what it called Israel’s “Annexation and Expansion Wall” on the residents in five villages in the Kalkilya district.

Tellingly, that same year the International Court of Justice had declared the separation barrier illegal, deciding that Israel’s right to defend its citizenry from murder could be trumped by the human rights of Palestinians who might be inconvenienced by the presence of the barrier.

Questionnaires were completed by Palestinians in three age groups: adults 19 years and older, adolescents between 13 to 18 years, and children between the ages of 6 and 12. To no one’s great surprise, the reaction to the presence of the dreaded apartheid wall (actually only a fence for approximately 80 percent of its length) had a profound negative effect on the Arabs who lived on the wrong side of it.

In fact, “the study results reflected a negative correlation between the residents’ exposure to the Wall and psychological symptoms; among the adult group (feeling lonely and somatization); among adolescents and children, positive correlation between exposure to the Wall and psychological symptoms (agitation, verbal violence, nightmares, and concentration problems).”

More ominously, the existence of the wall was blamed for “the emergence of psychological symptoms among the adults, such as feeling of loneliness and other physical symptoms such as difficulty in breathing and stomach pains.”

Instead of evaluating the Palestinian culture of death that is inculcated into children, from kindergarten until high school, in which they are taught to hate Jews and strive for martyrdom, and examining whether those bits of psychological baggage might themselves have a negative effect on emotional growth, any adverse emotional or psychological symptoms were linked to the mere presence of the wall.

The biased findings “showed proportional relation between exposure to the Wall and emergence of psychological symptoms among the adolescents and children, mainly aggressive behavior causing children to act violently toward other children and use impolite language and other mental symptoms such as nightmares.”

If the most serious end result of the wall’s existence was a surge in “impolite language” among Palestinian youth, that was probably an acceptable tradeoff for Israeli citizens, since after construction of the security barrier terrorist attacks on Jewish civilians in Israel decreased by some ninety percent.

Moreover, the very presence of the separation barrier was said to have caused the creation of something the study imaginatively classified as an “institutional ghetto” that resulted in “the ghettoization, oppression, and displacement of a people.”

Ignoring the reason the barrier was there in the first place – namely, to prevent the murder of Jewish civilians going about the business of their daily lives – the researchers determined that the building of the barrier and the ” ‘institutional ghetto’ or segregation of Palestinians has left people thinking not too highly of themselves and thus these people are unable to advance socially and psychologically. With low self-esteem, people feel humiliated and unworthy, which brings inner conflict and psychologically threatening symptoms like depression, suicide and disassociation.”

 

* * * * *

The entire “occupation” has become a target for scientists who attempt to link the general oppression of Zionism with pathologies in Palestinian society.

The author and commentator Phyllis Chesler, a frequent Jewish Press op-ed contributor, recently critiqued a particularly egregious example of politicized scholarship that appeared in Lancet, heretofore a respected British medical journal. Chesler noted that the article, with the biased title of “Association Between Exposure to Political Violence and Intimate-Partner Violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: A Cross-Sectional Study,” revealed “that Palestinian husbands are more violent toward Palestinian wives as a function of the Israeli ‘occupation’ – and that the violence increases significantly when the husbands are ‘directly’ as opposed to ‘indirectly’ exposed to political violence.”

The study, of course, never chose to examine the effect of the conflict on Israeli husbands and wives, who may well share emotional stresses similar to their Palestinian counterparts as a result of the genocidal aggression against them from various jihadist foes, and instead, as Chesler noted, attempted “to present Palestinian men as victims even when (or precisely because) those men are battering their wives,” defining “Palestinian cultural barbarism, which includes severe child abuse, as also related to the alleged Israeli occupation.”

The cultural traditions in the Middle East that enable men to totally dominate family members, treat women as property, and even commit “honor” killings when women shame male family members – all of these, of course, are not included in the emotional equation that might logically lead or contribute to spousal abuse. It is the Israeli occupation, and that alone, that causes such deleterious mental health conditions, “intimate partner violence,” in Palestinian marriages.

Other scholarly publications have been intellectually hijacked with spurious studies that have a fundamental bias to them that discredits the validity of any research.

The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, for example, ran an article titled “The Prevalence of Psychological Morbidity in West Bank Palestinian Children,” written, oddly enough, by a junior surgical resident and a microbiologist.

When members of a group of academics seeking balance in discussion of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, became aware of the bit of defective scholarship, they analyzed the paper themselves and found that it was an example of “weak science, which included the lack of evidence or references, the lack of appropriate scientific design, the choice of nonstandardized test instruments and the inaccurate citing of the psychological literature.”

What is more, the authors’ original thesis, “that ‘settlement encroachment’ was responsible for the problems of Palestinian children,” had relied on the psychiatric “expertise” of linguist Noam Chomsky, whose loathing of Israel is widely known, to help draw the study’s conclusions.

 

* * * * *

Even when Israel is engaged in what would by normal standards be considered as humanitarian aid, as it was with its immediate response to the Haiti earthquake, sending a contingent of medical teams who set up state-of-the-art medical facilities in Port au Prince, those who wish to continually defame the Jewish state were able to invent offense, even in Haiti.

The insidious claim came from peer Baroness Jenny Tonge, health spokeswoman in the House of Lords, who, while praising the IDF on the one hand, also suggested that Israeli soldiers were harvesting organs from Haitian victims. The Palestinian Telegraph, a publication of which Tonge is a patron, ran an article titled “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs” by a Boston-based blogger who seeks “justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians,” and who accused Israel of a “crime against humanity,” based, of course on absolutely no evidence or facts.

Last August, a journalist in a Swedish newspaper had made similar allegations which suggested – again without the faintest evidence – that in the 1990s Israeli soldiers kidnapped and murdered Palestinians to harvest their organs and that an investigation was warranted, based solely on the unfounded allegation. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz at the time understandably characterized it “an anti-Semitic blood libel against the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” yet another example of an effort to portray Zionism and Israel as Nazi-like in its thirst for non-Jewish blood.

Supporters of the Palestinian cause have come to accept the fact that Israel will not be defeated through the use of traditional tools of warfare. Instead, the Jewish state’s enemies in the Middle East, abetted by their supporters in the West, have begun to use different, but equally dangerous, tactics to delegitimize Israel in the hope of eventually destroying it.

By dressing up old hatreds against Jews and repackaging them as seemingly pure scholarship, Israel’s ideological foes have found an effective, but odious, way to ensure that the Jew of nations, Israel, is still accused of fostering social chaos and bringing harm to non-Jews, in the bright lights of the “perverted science” Winston Churchill feared would be unleashed by a Nazi victory in the Second World War.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., is director of Boston University’s Program in Publishing. He just finished a book about the worldwide assault on Israel taking place on college campuses, “Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews.”

Lessons I Uncovered Beneath The Haitian Rubble

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Like millions of people around the world, I had followed the tragedy in Haiti since the earthquake jolted that country just over a month ago. But while the media portrayed a great deal of the devastation visited on this poorest of Western nations, it wasn’t until I traveled to Haiti on a relief mission that I truly understood just how severe the crisis really was.

One night two weeks ago my father asked me if I wanted to join him on a visit to Haiti to donate relief supplies to an orphanage in Port-au-Prince and to generally help in writing and broadcasting about Haiti’s devastation. We would leave Sunday night and return Wednesday morning. The idea sounded preposterous. How could we possibly go to a country where all hell had broken loose? The offer sounded irrational, but I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If I thought about it, I probably would have decided against it. So I quickly agreed.

About 48 hours later I found myself sitting in the Santo Domingo airport sleep-deprived and cranky, trying to figure out if the whole thing was still a good idea. We met up with our friend Glenn Megill, founder of Rock of Africa, an organization that feeds families in Zambia and Zimbabwe, along with his daughter and a photographer named Peter.

After driving nine hours on a windy gravel road, we finally came to the border. It was there that we got our first taste of the deprivation left by the earthquake. Thousands of people were waiting in the baking sun to get into the country with supplies. It was another two hours before we reached the Haitian capital.

Advertisement Words cannot describe what we witnessed. Picture Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic detonation, or Hamburg and Dresden after the carpet-bomb raids delivered by allied forces. Picture monstrous mounds of rubble and jagged edges of half-torn buildings on every street. Only this time the picture was drawn not by conflict or war but through the sudden crush of nature alone.

Hundreds of thousands of people wandered the litter-strewn roads like zombies, their homes destroyed, many of their family members dead. Perhaps the most devastating thing was that they were so helpless. Haiti, already a poverty-stricken country, was now also in shambles. These people didn’t even have the means to get back on their feet if they wanted to.

As we drove through downtown Port-au-Prince, my heart grew heavier. I could not understand why God would allow such a calamity to take place. Why were so many innocent people lying in their graves beneath the rubble, as others stumbled over them to find their way?

The smell of death permeated the city. Relief workers informed us that dogs had been coming during the night and consuming the decaying bodies, leaving behind piles of bones in the rubble. I felt as if this God-forsaken country had been doomed for all eternity, without any hope of salvation.

But in the midst of darkness there is always a beacon of light that shines through.

My hope was restored the next day when we paid a visit to an orphanage called Child Hope, an organization run by a Christian family who left their home in California six years ago to devote their lives to rescuing suffering and abandoned children in Haiti. They have many volunteers who travel from the U.S. for months at a time to help in any way they can.

Their love and devotion are incredible. They treated the orphans as if they were their own children and gave them opportunities that they could never receive growing up on the streets as most orphans in Haiti do. I sat with some of the Haitian girls who live there, laughing and talking about school and our favorite nail polish colors. They were a pleasure and their company inspired me. Rather than wallow in self-pity they exhibited a zest for life and knowledge. They told me how they wanted to be doctors when they grow up.

We also went to the UN base where we saw hundreds of doctors from all over the world united in the common goal of healing the victims. You could hear every language spoken as doctors ran back and forth from tent to tent tending the sick. I was especially proud of all the American volunteers – military personnel as well as random individuals who felt it was their duty to assist their fellow human beings.

Israelis In Haiti See Rescue Efforts As A Mitzvah

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

The terrible disaster in Haiti has shown the world not only nature’s raw power but the power of the human heart as well. From all over the world, aid has been pouring in to rescue trapped survivors and provide medial services to the hundreds of thousands of victims.

The juggernauts of the international community, the United States especially, have provided a tremendous amount of help. What has come as a surprise to many has been the expertise shown by one of the smallest (and geographically removed) countries to make the journey to the Caribbean: Israel.

A nation of 7.5 million, Israel immediately sent more than 220 people to Haiti, even though no Israeli citizens were missing or declared dead. The delegation consists of Israel Defense Forces rescue units, Magen David Adom, Israel Police and a medical staff of more than 120.

Most of the delegation are IDF reservists called up especially for the mission. More aid and delegation members are arriving daily. Israel is sending food, water and equipment.

The help is ongoing and evolving as per the needs of the people.

As Prime Minister Netanyahu said, “Our decision to immediately dispatch a large delegation of doctors, nurses, medics, rescue forces as well as drugs and medical equipment to Haiti expresses the deep values which have characterized the Jewish people and the State of Israel throughout history.”

Search-and-rescue teams combed the area looking for survivors while an Israeli field hospital was established in Port-au-Prince.

The Israeli Home Front Command Field Hospital can handle 500 patients a day, and includes an emergency room, two surgical rooms, X-ray equipment, a maternity ward, an incubation ward, a children’s ward, a pharmacy and more. While the field hospital will largely treat trauma patients, similar to those encountered in a war, specialists in various other fields also have been sent. But this is only the beginning.

For years Israel has volunteered its experience in search-and-rescue operations around the world, from previous earthquake disasters in India and Turkey to recovery efforts in the aftermath of recent terror attacks in Kenya.

But Israel’s aid does not only come during times of worldwide attention. Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, MASHAV, has been helping countries from around the world on a variety of issues – from areas of agriculture to helping create small businesses – for more than 60 years. Before the quake shook Haiti, Israel had been working with the people there to help them establish business and better provide for their families.

The Israeli aid to Haiti will not end with the delegation. The Israeli hospital will be operating there for as long as it is needed, offering services beyond emergency care. It has social workers on the ground to deal with the trauma of the ordeal and the smallest victims of the quake’s aftermath: Haiti’s orphans.

Currently recuperating in the Israeli field hospital is a 7-month-old girl. The doctors don’t know her name; no one else from her family survived the deadly earthquake. She has no one left in the world. What will happen to her once everyone goes home?

Trying to find solutions to such issues is why the Israeli delegation will stay in Haiti.

As a prosperous nation, Israel not only has the passion but also the means to better society as a whole. Working to help the people of Haiti is just one more project MASHAV has taken on. As long as they want us, we will be there for the Haitian people.

Israel places a high value on a human life. We strongly believe in the Talmudic teaching of “Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” Our doctors and medical personnel in Haiti see this not as a job but a mitzvah.

Israeli Aid Effort In Haiti Wins Praise, Gratitude

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

The text messages started coming in to Shachar Zahavi’s cell phone in the middle of the night: “What are we going to do about Haiti?”

Zahavi, chairman of IsraAID, a coordinating organization for 17 Israeli and Jewish humanitarian groups, hadn’t even heard yet about the earthquake that had rocked Port-au-Prince, leaving untold thousands dead.

By morning, preparations already were under way to dispatch an Israeli relief team to the devastated Caribbean nation. Consisting of doctors, nurses, paramedics and logistics experts, the 15-person group arrived Saturday in Port-au-Prince and immediately set to work treating wounded Haitians at the site of a collapsed hospital near the city center.

On Monday, deep into the thick of coordinating logistics for a second aid team to replace the first, Zahavi received a heartening text message from one of his team members in Haiti: “A 6-year-old girl, Jessica Hartelin, was just pulled from the rubble by locals nearly six days after the earthquake, was rushed to our clinic and treated by the IsraAID/FIRST medical team. She was saved. She will be transferred in the next few minutes to the Israel Defense Forces field hospital for further treatment.”

It was one bright spot in a week that aid workers described as alternately heartbreaking and exhilarating.

The IsraAID team, comprised fully of volunteers, was just one component of the broad Israeli and Jewish effort to help Haiti. As soon as the magnitude of the earthquake’s destruction became apparent, humanitarian officials sprang into action.

The Israel Defense Forces was the first major Israeli team to arrive. Team members reached Haiti last Friday on a flight loaded with military and civilian medical personnel from all over Israel, rescue teams, search dogs and supplies. While Port-au-Prince’s hospitals were rendered mostly useless by the quake, the IDF team set up a field hospital near a soccer stadium to treat survivors. It was one of the only places Haitians could receive advanced medical treatment in the city.

“The Israeli field hospital is phenomenal,” Dr. Richard Besser of ABC News told “Good Morning America.”

“They were up and running on Saturday morning, way ahead of the United States hospital.”

When Besser encountered a woman in labor named Soraya in a Port-au-Prince park, he contacted the only medical facility he knew about in town: the one run by the Israelis.

“Before long, Soraya had an operating room waiting for her,” said Besser, who helped deliver the baby. “Ultrasounds, IVs, medications. Soraya was now getting better care than she could have ever imagined.”

On Saturday, Israeli doctors at the hospital delivered a baby boy whose grateful mother said she’d name the boy Israel.

Meanwhile, other civilian aid workers were having trouble getting into Haiti. Power was down in most of Port-au-Prince, complicating matters, and airplanes on the ground at the city’s airport lacked sufficient fuel to take off and make way for additional aid flights to land.

The airport in Santo Domingo, in the neighboring Dominican Republic, became an alternate staging area, and aid officials from around the world converged on the Dominican capital as a first step toward reaching the earthquake zone in Port-au-Prince.

In Israel late last week, frustrated aid workers idled as they waited for a clear route into Haiti to be established. Reached by telephone last Friday, an official from Magen David Adom, Israel’s version of the Red Cross, said the group still hadn’t received clearance to leave.

It took until Monday for the team of five Magen David Adom paramedics to get to Port-au-Prince, which they reached overland after landing in the Dominican Republic. Once in Haiti, the paramedics set up a field hospital in conjunction with the Norwegian Red Cross at the courtyard of the university hospital in Port-au-Prince. The hospital was up and running Tuesday morning.

A group from the Israeli disaster relief organization ZAKA had a team of rescue workers in Mexico assisting in recovery efforts following a helicopter crash there two days before the quake hit, so when the official Mexican aid delegation to Haiti left Mexico, Israeli rescue workers hitched a ride with them aboard a Mexican Air Force Hercules aircraft.

Whether clad in IDF uniforms, wearing the flag of Israel on their shoulders or holding Shabbat prayers during a brief break from their rescue work, the Israeli aid workers’ visible presence in Haiti is helping to promote a positive image of Israel in a world more accustomed to seeing the nation negatively.

“I am sure it is good for the Israeli image, but we’re not doing it only because of this,” said Danny Biran, ambassador of logistical and administrative affairs for Israel’s mission to the United Nations and the Americas. “We are doing it because we believe in what we are doing.”

“We always carry an Israeli flag and hang it wherever we work. We don’t do anything under the radar,” said Zahavi of IsraAID. “It’s important for us to show that we come on behalf of the Israeli people, and people should know we’re there for them.”

The IsraAID coalition is made up of aid organizations – such as the Fast Israeli Rescue and Search Team (FIRST), the Jerusalem AIDS Project and Pirchey Refua-Israeli Youth Medical Cadets – as well as funding organizations including the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International and UJA-Federation of Greater Toronto.

In an interview from Port-au-Prince, one of IsraAID’s logistics volunteers, Alan Schneider, director of the B’nai B’rith World Center in Jerusalem, said the destruction in Haiti was overwhelming.

“I’ve been to Chad, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Kenya and Georgia on IsraAID missions, and I’ve never ever seen anything of this scale,” Schnieder said by telephone as patients receiving treatment at IsraAID’s clinic could be heard screaming in the background. “It’s like a war scene.”

(JTA)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/global/israeli-aid-effort-in-haiti-wins-praise-gratitude/2010/01/20/

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