Posted by: israelembassysa | July 22, 2010

Punching Above Our Weight

Punching Above Our Weight

by Rolene Marks

The State of Israel is tiny. In fact we could fit this country, barely noticeable on a map, comfortably into the borders of the Kruger National Park. Astonishing when you consider that for a mere slip of a state, Israel certainly punches above its weight.

 The Talmud states that to save one life is to save a world entire. This Jewish tenet is the basis that has spurred Israel into becoming one of the world’s leading experts in rescue and recovery in the event of any kind of disaster. One only has to look at Israel’s response to the horrific earthquake that virtually flattened the small island nation of Haiti, to see that this tiny country of just 7 million citizens makes an impact that defies explanation at times.

 During Israel’s defensive incursion into Gaza in the winter of 2009, the word disproportionate was bandied about in media circles and was the favoured stick to publicly flog Israel for her response to the incessant lobbing of rockets and mortars into her southern towns. So the irony is not lost on us when we note how Israel has come to the aid not just of Haiti but for many other nations, some of which Israel has no diplomatic ties to.

 Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, the Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Mexico, Turkey and countless others. For a country that is only 7 million strong, Israel is at a moments notice, able to scramble enough people to provide a plethora of services a stricken area could need. An astounding feat when you consider that Israel dispatched over 220 IDF Medical Corps personnel (all in uniform, proudly serving their country!) doctors, nurses and engineers. The first to land in Port-au-Prince, within hours a field hospital had been erected, sporting some of the most advanced medical equipment in the world and a satellite communication statemenmt that allowed doctors in Israel to communicate with their contemporaries in the field. In a rare show of enthusiasm for Israel, more than a few media outlets gave coverage to the Israeli team and former US President, Bill Clinton remarked on the great work Israel was doing.

 What can account for Israel’s superior state of preparedness?

 Unfortunately, sixty years of war and terror campaigns have created a necessity for Israel to be able to respond at a moments notice. Many are familiar with the site of the yarmulka clad men of Zaka who apart from recovery and medical assistance, are known to clean up the detritus from carnage perpetrated by suicide bomb attacks that plagued Israel during the second intifada. Years of continuous threat of attack have enabled the IDF to be in the position to scramble units at a moments notice. It is not just manpower that Israel sends but also technology. Now Israel is famous for its technological prowess but in environments where a functioning splint is considered advanced one can understand the challenges facing rescue workers so when Israel is able to provide medical professionals with satellite communication stations, x-ray equipment and other supplies.

 As much as the world has marvelled at Israel’s performance in Haiti, for the 220 IDF medical corps, Zaka rescue teams, Israel Flying Aid and medical professionals it was simply business as usual.


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