After the mega-quake in Nepal that has claimed more than 6,000 lives, many nations got busy bringing relief to the devastated cities and towns.
One of the first countries to respond to Nepal’s humanitarian needs was Israel. Israel has a great reputation for bringing relief directly after disaster hits. It was one of the first to build a medical facility after the Haitian earthquake in 2010; in 2011 Israel responded to the Fukushima nuclear disaster after the tsunami that hit the coast of Japan; and in 2013 Israel sent a humanitarian relief team to aid the Philippines after a massive typhoon practically swallowed up coastal towns. And as I’m talking to you now, Israel is active in providing aid to those in Nepal.
It’s really astonishing how quickly this little country acts in providing aid to countries that are thousands of miles away.
Yet, in a recent article published by Haaretz, Asher Schechter came out questioning Israel’s moral equivalency in providing humanitarian relief for countries all around the world, but neglecting the needs of those Gazans next door. Schechter writes, “For a country of Israel’s size and limited military presence around the world, this kind of mobilization is extraordinary. Israel’s effectiveness and empathy wins it new fans from all quarters. But not if the disaster strikes 70 kilometers down the coast from Tel Aviv, and if Israel is its direct cause.”
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So is it true, is Israel’s compassion limited, or as Schechter says, does Israel’s compassion begin––and end––thousands of miles away in far away countries?
I don’t think so.
To begin with, since Israel left Gaza in 2005 they have seen more than 11,000 rockets shower down on nearby towns and, in some instances, close to major cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem almost every month. Yet, in almost 10 years time Israel has only responded with force three times: That in and of itself is compassion. I don’t think any country would allow terrorists to fire rockets on its towns for months, even years, without any military response.
During wartime Israel phoned and dropped Arab-language leaflets warning the Palestinians in Gaza to leave certain areas because that area was about to see military action, quite possibly the most humane act of war ever recorded in human history. Who does that? Who phones a potential terrorist to tell him he has a chance to save his own life by leaving the premises? That sounds extremely humane.
As Israel was at war with Hamas in Gaza, Egypt closed its border crossing, preventing humanitarian aid to flow into Gaza. Israel on the other hand, during war, kept the Kerem Shalom crossing open for humanitarian aid into the Gaza to provide water, food, and medical supplies during wartime. Almost 1,000 tons of medical supplies and medicine, plus 5,000 trucks of goods were able to go through the Kerem Shalom crossing during Operation Protective Edge. Does that not count as compassion and mercy for the people who attack you?
Israel also opened an Israeli army field hospital near the border of Gaza to provide medical assistance to wounded Palestinians, and to alleviate the stress of the hospitals in Gaza. Yet somehow, that isn’t considered compassionate.
Israel, even during wartime, demonstrates acts of compassion for its enemies. So is it really any surprise that Israel shows compassion to those who are in desperate need elsewhere?