Saturday, January 01, 2005

Israel Sends Doctors, Supplies To Aid Tsunami Victims

From the UJA web site...

Israel Sends Doctors, Supplies To Aid Tsunami Victims:
By Leora Eren Frucht
December 29, 2004

Israeli doctors were among the first foreign medical personnel to reach Sri Lanka in the aftermath of Sunday's devastating tsunami that left thousands dead in that country alone.

'We got a phone call that we were needed, and three hours later we were at the airport,' said Prof. Avi Rivkind, head of both the Department of Surgery and Trauma Unit at Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem in Jerusalem. Rivkind flew to the battered country on Sunday night, along with three other Hadassah physicians, who specialize in rescue operations, trauma and pediatrics.

Israel had also mobilized some 150 army doctors and rescue and relief teams who were planning to set up a field hospital in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government, however, declined that offer of help, leading Israel to reduce the scope of its planned humanitarian mission.

Instead the government sent a small number of Israel Defense Forces personnel to accompany an 82-ton planeload of relief supplies, including medicine, water, food, blankets, tents, nylon sheeting and electric generators. A plane that left overnight Tuesday to Sri Lanka contained 10,000 blankets, 3,680 liters of mineral water, 12 tons of food, 17.5 tons of baby food and over nine tons of medicine."

Follow the link for more detail.

Israeli Aid in Tsunami

Israeli Aid, Unreported: "Israeli Aid, Unreported
All major media outlets ignore Israel's massive humanitarian aid to South Asia - an indication of a national ethos of caring.

When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Israelis can be counted on to help. So it's no surprise that within hours of the devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the following humanitarian missions all departed from the tiny Jewish state:

  • The Israeli organization Latet ('To Give') filled a jumbo jet with 18 tons of supplies.
  • A medical team headed by four doctors from Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday night (Dec. 27), carrying medicine and baby food. The doctors specialize in rescue operations, trauma and pediatrics.
  • An IDF rescue team is now on its way to Sri Lanka with 80 tons of aid material, including 10,000 blankets, tents, nylon sheeting and water containers, all contributed by the IDF.
  • A ZAKA rescue-and-recovery team arrived in the disaster areas Monday night, armed with its specialized equipment for identifying bodies.
  • A Health Ministry contingent left for Thailand on Monday night to aid in rescue efforts. The group includes doctors, nurses and four members of the IDF.
  • Israel has also offered its assistance to India ? a search-and-rescue team from the Home Front Command, as well as consignments of food and medicine.

Yet, with the exception of UPI (as of this writing - Tues. 4pm EST), none of the major news outlets have dedicated an article to this remarkable Israeli humanitarian effort. This, despite the fact that the IDF sent all Israel-based journalists a press release Monday evening (Dec. 27), inviting them to the airport to cover the departure of one IDF group.

This is all the more surprising given the fact that the major news agencies have entire teams of reporters in Israel, who submit at least one 'Israel-article' each day.

So what did the Associated Press send out today to its 15,000 subscribing news agencies? A dreary story about the construction of a new IDF base near Jenin. AP sarcastically remarked in this 'news' story that the base's 'elaborate color scheme and landscaping shows that the army is not planning to pull its forces out of the area anytime soon.'

The lack of media interest in this Israeli humanitarian effort means that Israeli benevolence toward other peoples is not fairly conveyed to the western world. Perhaps if it were conveyed, observers would come to understand something else ― that Israel's response to Palestinian violence is also motivated by the highest ethical concern for all human life, and is not (as the media so often portray it) driven by an oppressive, mean-spirited national ethos.

UPDATE 1/1/05: Two days after this communique was published, Associated Press released an article on the Israeli aid to tsunami victims, and followed up with another article the next day.