Telling the Truth About Humanitarian Israel

In Frontlines, Thought by Judith Bergman

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In December 2015, the British Daily Mail reported that Israel had saved more than 2,000 Syrians since 2013, at a cost of 50 million shekels ($13 million). Many of those saved were Islamic militants and sworn enemies of Israel, while only around 20 percent were civilians, according to the report.

These humanitarian rescue missions are very controversial. Why should Israel risk its soldiers and spend money to rescue Salafists who have a burning wish to destroy Israel? But it does, and this attests yet again to the under-reporting of facts about Israel in the international media. Compared to Israel’s size and the magnitude of Israel’s own security issues in the region, it is remarkable how Israel manages to be there for so many people in need around the world. When detractors whine about Israel not carrying its share of humanitarian outreach in the region, they are of course conveniently overlooking the fact that Israel is carrying infinitely more than what should be expected of a nation of Israel’s size, especially when that nation is actually treating and caring for its own enemies.

In just one development, Israel saved a 5-year old girl after she was seriously wounded in a firefight between rival militias in Syria. But that was not all. Israel is now also saving her from the cancer Israeli doctors discovered she was suffering while she was hospitalized in Haifa’s Rambam Hospital.

The story reads like something out of a thriller that could only take place in Israel: The hospital refused to release the girl after doctors discovered that she had cancer and security officials agreed. A bone marrow donor had to be found, and was — a relative living in an unnamed country that is an enemy of Israel’s, rendering it impossible for the relative to travel openly to Israel. Instead, a secret operation by Israel’s security services was launched to smuggle the relative out of that country and into Israel. The relative arrived on Monday and is now quarantined at the hospital with the girl, awaiting for the first round of treatment.

All the characteristics of the typical Israeli approach to life make up the ingredients of this story: the feeling of extreme responsibility of the doctors, refusing to let the girl go after saving her life once, and the almost unbelievable willingness of the security forces to risk their own soldiers to save her. This is Israel at its best and it is not a rare occurrence in this country, even if this particular example is of course extraordinary.

This is the ethos of Judaism and it is the ethos of Israel. But the world will never acknowledge this, because it refuses to see and hear the truth about Israel with a savage stubbornness that is reserved only for Israel. Appreciating that Israel values life above all else — all life, not just Jewish life — would make the anti-Israeli hatred, the anti-Jewish tropes and caricatures, the howls of “apartheid” and “injustice” melt away in an instant.

In an age where facts have long ceased to matter, however, all that the haters, especially those in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, have to do is ignore those facts. The world is overflowing with naked emperors prancing about, peddling their lies and delusions to uncritical and impressionable audiences, who are much too willing to subscribe to them.

Thankfully, however, those lies and delusions are not having much of an impact on Israel itself. They are, however, having a detrimental effect on especially Diaspora Jewry around the world, notably on young Jewish students on college and university campuses in the West, where the anti-Israeli narratives are strong and thriving, not only in the BDS movement, but even among college and university staff to whom these narratives are almost as natural as breathing.

It is only persistence and proud stubbornness that will ultimately make the truth about Israel prevail in those dark corners, where the prejudiced hatred against Israel is allowed to fester. It is a supreme irony, of course, that Western universities have become feeding grounds for this hatred, considering that they are the rightful inheritors of the tradition of Enlightenment. This irony, however, is lost on most college students today, but it ought not to be lost on those who still believe in the value of truth and getting that truth out there. The story of Israel’s rescue of Syrians would be a good place to start.

(Originally published on Israel Hayom)


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