Haim Divon, the former Israeli ambassador to Canada, was recently in Toronto to speak to alumni of Hebrew University and others about Israel’s long and storied record, since the very early days of the state, of finding meaningful, efficient and creative ways of reaching out to help developing countries in the world.
From 2005 to 2011, Divon was the head of Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Co-operation, an arm of the Foreign Ministry.
The program began in 1957 when Israel was itself labouring under severe financial conditions, struggling to provide housing for the hundreds of thousands of immigrants who had found their way to the nascent state and trying to build a sound fiscal, commercial, industrial and agricultural infrastructure for its still uncertain economy.
The essence, brilliance and deep humanity of the program is in the nature of the aid dispatched by the young country: Israel has sent hundreds of experts to advise, build and otherwise assist as and where needed, in the developing world. In addition, it has invited and continues to invite many hundreds more of overseas students from those same developing countries to study and train in Israel in the various disciplines of science, medicine and agriculture that are so vital for the building of a society.
As reported in The CJN, since its inception Mashav has sent thousands of experts, from agronomists to physicians to African, Asian and Latin American nations and invited more than 200,000 individuals from the same countries to study in Israel.
“We were sharing with others. We worked with agents of change to improve societies. It was a basic Zionist notion,” Divon told The CJN. According to Guy Sleemann, director for Israel’s development mission to Haiti, Israel today has humanitarian development teams, such as the one still providing medical and agricultural aid in Haiti, in some 110 countries around the world.
It is this starkly irrefutable background of innovative, vibrant, caring Israeli humanitarianism that exposes the disgustingly false notions about the Jewish state spread, for example, by members of the Free Gaza Movement, whose rabid rantings and risible ravings about Israel consist of boycott, divestment and sanctions.
One of the movement’s co-founders, Greta Berlin, is currently on a speaking tour in Canada. That she recently inadvertently shone a light on her own vile belief that “Zionists ran the Holocaust and the concentration camps” we hope will be inconvenient for the success of her tour.
If the leaders of Gaza would finally adopt the Zionist notion that it is more important to build (Gaza) rather than to destroy (Israel), the Jewish state would help them improve Gazan society too. What a great notion for the Free Gaza Movement to embrace. That would bring true freedom to Gaza and its people.