The return to campus this month means that supporters of Israel must once again be ready to respond to the aggressive, offensive vilification of the Jewish state and even of Jews by the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) crowd and a sordid array of like-minded others.
Ordinarily, truth is the best weapon to dissipate lies and falsehoods. Truth, however, is only effective when the other person is interested in genuine discussion or discourse. But as we have seen over the years, most haters of Israel have shown themselves utterly uninterested in hearing the truth about Israel or, even worse, allowing others to hear it.
That’s why from time to time this space is used to bring little-publicized but important facts about Israel to readers’ attention. Along with countless other stories unreported in local media, they inform individuals who are sincere in wanting to see Israel’s larger picture. These stories also comprise a rather significant but inconvenient truth about the deeply ingrained ethic of goodness and caring that courses through Israeli society.
Israel21c reported about four recent Israeli efforts in four different countries to bring aid to the needy. (Not surprisingly, these stories rile BDS proponents.)
• Germany: Five experts from the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) were to have flown to Berlin on Sept. 11 to provide five days of training to clinicians, caregivers and volunteers working with Mideast refugees in two temporary shelters.
ITC director Tali Levanon was invited to Germany by two refugee shelters in Berlin – one in a hospital, the other in a town hall, each housing about 350 men, women and children awaiting permanent placement elsewhere in Germany.
The Israelis were to focus on giving the shelters’ staff the basic tools to provide emotional first aid to the refugees and actually help the staff to better develop their own internal strengthening mechanisms to lessen the risk of fatigue and burnout. The refugees are all Syrian. It is hard not to acknowledge the irony of the situation.
“We will strengthen every part of the team there,” Levanon said ahead of the trip. “They are under a lot of stress from the stories of the refugees around them. A social worker told me she doesn’t sleep at night imagining what they have been through. We want to give them tools to work better and to strengthen themselves.”
• Italy: In the immediate aftermath of the 6.2 Richter earthquake that struck central Italy on Aug. 24, IsraAid, the much-lauded and much-travelled non-profit humanitarian organization, sent a 20-person team there that included search-and-rescuers, relief workers and trauma specialists. Four days after the quake, IsraAid was the only foreign group of its kind on the spot amid the rubble.
The Israelis built temporary shelter camps for some of the thousands displaced by the devastation, distributed food and non-food items to the homeless, and provided counselling to grieving families and Italian rescue teams suffering from acute stress.
• United States: Last month, eight IsraAid relief workers and psychosocial professionals went to Louisiana to assist victims of the massive flooding there. The Israelis helped people return to their homes and salvage whatever personal belongings they could.
• Canada: Yes, Canada! In May, seven
IsraAid volunteers came to Alberta to assist in the aftermath of the Fort McMurray wildfires. They helped clear the ubiquitous debris, sift through toxic ashes and, where they could, offered professional psychosocial support.
It was the first time an IsraAid team had provided assistance in Canada. As of last month, the Israeli volunteers were “continuing to provide specialized psychosocial training to several local agencies that give direct services to those most affected by the fire,” Israel21c reported.
These are only the most recent examples of Israelis travelling across the globe to provide emergency assistance to people in need. To be sure, haters of Israel will not want to hear about them.
That’s precisely why we need to let people know.