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Monday, January 25, 2010

Our national pride over what's going on in Haiti

As you might imagine, there's a lot of pride here over what's going on in Haiti. This is JPost editor-in-chief David Horovitz writing in the weekend edition.
OUR "LIGHT unto the nations" Haitian relief effort encapsulated much of what is best about our country - and encapsulated certain other aspects of our familiar reality, too.

It demonstrated our heartfelt desire to come to the assistance of others in the time of their greatest need, with no desire or expectation of reward. Crowds of Haitians cheering "Good job, Israel," over and over, as an Israeli team brought a survivor safely out of the wreckage of a Port-au-Prince building earlier in the week; the joyous, impulsive decision of Gubilande Jean Michel to name her new-born son "Israel" after doctors at the field hospital had ensured a healthy delivery - these were all the thanks the rescuers could have wished for. That, and the kind of simple, heartwarming "Shalom"s that our reporter in the disaster zone, E.B. Solomont, received whenever she mentioned that she was working for The Jerusalem Post. Shalom. Hello. Peace. One more Hebrew word than Haitians might have been expected to know.

The Israeli mission to Haiti also underlined our capacity to think and act fast and effectively - to pull together and surmount obstacles at a time of crisis. American TV stations reported that the US initially sent medical staff with no instruments. More than two dozen countries ultimately got involved in the relief effort, but most spent the most precious first hours and days working on plans to help, or running into all kinds of logistical difficulties - including finding the means to physically land their rescue planes in the post-quake chaos at the airport. Meanwhile, the Israeli teams, quietly, efficiently, and with a minimum of fuss, collected their personnel, their equipment and all their other essentials, somehow circumvented or cleared all the obstacles, and went to work.

As this week continued, the prospect of finding survivors diminished. But even when local Haitians called out to an IDF crew at one locale on Monday that "they are all dead," the rescue teams insistently maintained their search. A senior Israeli medical official had acknowledged early in the week that finding survivors as long as five days after such a disaster was just about possible, and after six days almost impossible. But day six came and went, and still the teams criss-crossed the capital. And they were vindicated, with survivors still pulled from the wreckage on day seven.

The US and others will doubtless contribute a great deal more than Israel can to the long-term process of rebuilding Haiti, but the Israeli medical efforts will also continue long after the international media spotlight has moved on. For while the hunt for survivors may be drawing to a close, the medical needs are far from fully addressed. As of mid-week, well over 2,000 people had found their way to the field hospital. IsraAID/FIRST and Magen David Adom teams were also overwhelmed at the scale of the requirements, with the IsraAID team treating 700 injured Haitians in the first four days of its work. Many Israeli medical personnel expect to be on the ground in Haiti for weeks more.


We can argue endlessly, and do, about the policies we adopt when grappling with the Palestinians. But there is one thing that our Haiti rescue outreach made emphatically clear, and that the Palestinians might want to ponder: If you're in trouble and you're not trying to kill us, there's no one like the Israelis to help you out.
Read the whole thing.

Here's Jonathan HaLevi, the Director General of Shaarei Zedek Hospital here in Jerusalem. The field of emergency medicine was invented at Shaare Zedek by Dr. David Appelbaum HY"D (may God avenge his blood - as I have discussed here many times, he and his daughter were murdered in a terror attack the night before the daughter's wedding was to have taken place).
THE REASON we're not surprised is because we know that we've been training for years for just these types of scenarios. We can also appreciate that Israel sees part of its mandate as a military and medical leader to make sure that expertise and know-how will benefit the international community should the opportunity present itself.

And so, as much as our enemies desire to paint the IDF solely as a hawkish, war-seeking powerhouse, this mission shows just the opposite to be true.

Admittedly, our adeptness in launching these types of operations stems from a history of confronting hostilities and being prepared to address every possible threat. I personally recall from my days as commander of a field hospital in the First Lebanon War that we set up such a field medical facility within hours and that "real-life" training was just one of many invaluable tests that would benefit the IDF Medical Corps in the future.

Over the years, the brave men and women of our army have recalled those lessons on all too many occasions, both here and just as often in ports of call in other parts of the world.

So when the news came across the wires last week that Haiti had been rocked by a devastating earthquake, the question was never if Israel would be there to respond, but only how soon.

Those of us involved in emergency management and disaster response know all too well that Israel has a unique advantage over most, if not all, nations in this discipline. Rarely does a week go by where somewhere in the country a major drill is not held in one of our hospitals in this specific area. Our protocols and emergency departments have become models for hospitals all around the world.

Despite our relatively small size and urban landscapes that pale in comparison to most of the West, our Home Front Command has made it a principal training objective to remain ever-ready for all types of disasters.
And finally, I wonder how Diane Sawyer will treat Israel in future reports after watching her awestruck in this one.

Let's go to the videotape.

Proud of this country's reaction to what's going on in Haiti? You'd better believe we are. Surprised? No, not at all.


At 8:55 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

Yes, we are a light to nations but I hold true to what I posted in the thread before this one.

As for Ms. Sawyer, believe me our pride in what we did in Haiti will be forgotten the moment she or anyone passes their usual hypocritical judgments. The only one that will remember will be ourselves.

A side note. The reason medical aid has been snarled in Haiti is because of the UN and the so-called Haitian government. Israel got in there before Haiti and the UN took command. Of course Sawyer was rather quick to assume it was the fault of the U.S., and heaven forbid one person open their mouths and say anything negative about the impotent UN.

A great article from Hudson institute:
The Rest of the World Can Learn a Lot From the Israeli Formula for Growth

Of course we control the world, don't we?


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