Israel a Leader in Humanitarian Relief

November 3, 2008 at 5:49 pm | Posted in Economics, Peace Process | 1 Comment

Democratic governments tend to take on the characteristics of their citizens. Israel is no exception. Israelis wake up every morning and strive to better the world around them. This is probably why Israel is one of today’s global leaders for technological innovation. Israeli scientists, inventors, and researchers have created new medical treatments, developed ecologically sustainable ways to harness the Earth’s scarce resources, and produced new methods of communication to better connect the peoples of world.

The Israeli government takes pride in the accomplishments of its people, and for years has echoed their selfless example by taking a global lead in delivering humanitarian aid and relief. For the last 60 years the freest country in the Middle East has traveled the world to alleviate human suffering. Israel is home to the Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV), a part of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs founded in 1958. The organization trains local medical teams, provides aid, and builds advanced facilities around the globe.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has shared its knowledge and trained over 250,000 local health care providers, scientists, engineers, and aid workers. Israel’s support and resources have been sent to over 130 countries. Following the May, 2008 earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province, Israel shipped well over $1.5 million in relief equipment to those affected by the disaster. The shipments included blankets, sleeping bags, medial equipment, and water purification systems. Our country is also working with China to establish a water supply and purification plant in the area.

In Africa, Israel has expanded its medical centers and efforts to combat blindness and aid amputees. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked closely with the United Nations and the World Health Organization to treat refuges from Darfur and other war torn regions on the continent. In the last year alone more than ten African countries have received Israeli aid, including Kenya, the Ivory Cost, Eritrea, and the Central African Republic, among others.

Israel is also working to combat Africa’s high infant mortality rate. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is currently setting up two advanced neonatology units in Ghana. One of the units has already come online and Israeli doctors and medical experts are working hard to train Ghana’s health professionals to save the lives of countless children.

Israel has also supported its close friend and ally, the United States. In 1996, Israeli relief workers were some of the first on the scene of the U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. Israeli workers helped clear the rubble and treat the wounded. Israel was there when Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, sending over eight tons of medical equipment, food, water, and other supplies to those hit hardest by the storm.

Israel even extends a helping hand to those who attack her. In the face of repeated homicide bombings and rocket attacks from the terrorists of Hamas, this past year saw over 28,000 Israeli trucks carrying almost 655,000 tons of medical supplies, food, and aid cross into Gaza. Israeli fuel stations have remained open, despite repeated attacks on their workers, to deliver well over 4 million liters of fuel per week.

Our country has also opened its borders with Gaza to those in medical need. Since the beginning of 2008, over 10,000 Gazans have received medical treatment in Israel. These Gazans pay no Israeli taxes and are not part of any Israeli treatment plan, and yet the receive care without any hesitation. Hamas terrorists have attempted to use Israel’s humanitarian efforts against her, disguising homicide bombers as patients ordered to blow themselves up at check point, in ambulances, and in hospitals. Despite this, Israel continues to accept those in need and it is not uncommon after an attack to find one of these Hamas terrorists receiving treatment in the same hospital as their victims.

I have seen Israel’s commitment to humanity first hand. As Israel’s Ambassador to Ecuador I saw hundreds of Ecuadorian professionals who used MASHAV programs to improve the lives of their families and communities. They were trained in Israel and came back with cutting edge know how, shared with them by their Israeli colleagues. I have seen one person return from such training and change the life of his entire village in the Amazon rain forest. I also headed humanitarian relief missions after natural disasters, including volcano eruptions. Our missions, staffed by Israeli trained Ecuadorian doctors, went into remote villages bringing help and hope.

In the 21st century every country must understand that poverty and disease know no borders. In our global society, every member is only as strong as the weakest. Israel has a growing first world economy and a strong and open democracy. As such, our country is called to aid all those who suffer around the world. We understand our responsibilities. For the last 60 years our country has met the call and served the global community.

Article appeared in the Atlanta Jewish Times on September 26, 2008

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  1. I am proud when I read of the way Israel continues to have a heart for others in the world, and a real sense of being a contributing member of those who bring life and do good, despite being harassed on most sides. Kol Ha Kavod!!! When we lived in Jerusalem in 1992-5, I heard first hand of terrorists still being treated in the hospital, and of the countless Gazan children with heart defects and in need of surgery being brought in to be operated on free of charge. It makes me proud to be Jewish!On a personal note, I want to commend you for being a clear-voiced encourager of “good news” and for having a positive attitude. i really have noticed a difference since you became the Israeli consul here in Atlanta. You represent Israel consistently and in a good way. We are fortunate to have you here. May God prosper your way! Mrs. Bull


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