Not Evil All the Time

Last week, Ethan Bronner of the NYTimes wrote a very interesting piece about the mixed feeling Israelis have about the country’s aid to Haiti. No one was against the aid itself, but rather the discussion revolved around how the aid portrayed Israel in the world, and how it stands in stark contrast to the aid – or absence of aid – given to Palestinians just miles away. As usual in Israel, the divide was between right and left. Take a look, I think this is a real important read (and it’s not too long…).
Here’s a small excerpt:
But on the same page, another commentator, Larry Derfner, argued that while Israel’s field hospital in Haiti is a reflection of something deep in the nation’s character, “so is everything that’s summed up in the name of ‘Gaza.’ ” He wrote: “It’s the Haiti side of Israel that makes the Gaza side so inexpressibly tragic. And more and more, the Haiti part of the national character has been dwarfed by the Gaza part.”
But, I have a problem with this discussion and with my leftist brethren on this topic. I think the aid to Haiti should be looked at just the way it is: Simply as aid – nothing more. Israel should be proud of its rescue team, of the quality of its field hospitals and that they got to Port Au Prince way before the bigger and closer countries did.
The immediate comparison and/or linkage of this assistance to the conflict with the Palestinians is, in my eyes,  tiresome. Come on, give us a break lefties (me included!) – our guys were saving lives over there! And risking their own while doing it! These are apples and oranges. There’s just no need to connect EVERYTHING to the conflict.
Having said that, I do have a problem with the way Israeli media blew the whole Israeli rescue team story out of proportion. Almost as if they were a bigger story than the quake and the survivors themselves.
To give you a better idea of how things are seen over here, I decided to subtitle a skit from Israel’s most popular satire show “Eretz Nehederet” (A Wonderful Land) that kind of sums up how the media coverage was ridiculous, and it also touches on the need for so many Israelis to simply have someone pat them on their back and tell us: “See? We’re not always evil”.
I’ve always thought satire shows are a great way to understand how the locals see things. So, just to get you up to speed, this particular skit is with Roni Daniel, the military correspondent for Channel 2. Daniel is known for his right wing views and that he can never say anything bad about the army. They’re always right. In fact, he often urges them on television to do more, to be more ruthless towards the “enemy”. He was sent last week to Haiti with Israeli rescue team.
Enjoy 🙂

11 Responses to “Not Evil All the Time”

  1. January 26, 2010 at 12:11

    just wanted to share with you my experience: as you might know, i am Monocle magazine’s correspondent in Israel, and last week i received an urgent phone call from London. we’d like to send a photographer to Israel, they told me, to shoot people from the rescue unit for our cover, because we were so impressed. and indeed they sent a guy from Germany in. i wrote for them the cover story (due February 15th or so) and helped the German guy while he was here. some of the media people (rightists, leftists, whatever) had very “smart” things to say. but i discovered that the rescue guys were basically interested in saving lives. the people i met are volunteers most of the year any way, without any connection to their military role (they all do it as reserve). many of them work in Magen David Adom and other medical and healing types of jobs and were just waiting to be called to help.

    i guess that’s the way it is: some people really do things, others have plenty of time to write about it…

  2. January 26, 2010 at 16:19

    This clip was hilarious!!! Eretz Nehederet should always be subtitled and broadcast abroad – that would do better to change the world’s opinion about Israel than any Roni Daniel or IDF twitter account…

    And speaking of Ethan Bronner, did you hear about the new story he’s in the middle of – with his son enrolling for the IDF? Any thoughts on that?

    • 4 Ami Kaufman
      January 26, 2010 at 19:43

      I haven’t heard about it. But I have heard some concerns about Bronner being objective or not, which is what I presume you’re talking about.
      We could talk for hours about this, but first let me say that I believe there’s no such thing as objective journalism.
      I had the pleasure of working with Amira Hass in Haaretz. As we all know, she’s as left as they come. And we would see that in her op-eds. No problem with that. But when she had to write a hard news piece, with all the five “WH” questions, and just give the facts – she did it like any other reporter. You couldn’t tell from her news items if they were written by a leftist or a rightist. She just kept to the facts.
      If Bronner does the same with his hard news, I don’t have a problem with him.

  3. January 26, 2010 at 20:52

    If ever there was a case of “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”! Did I miss something? Were there any reports about how the United States sent aid to Haiti while people here are unemployed or living in poverty? What has one got to do with the other. Should ever country live with a “we have our own problems” mentality. And what is so aweful about Israel getting a little good press? What is so horrible about something positive being said about the country and the people that live in it?

  4. 6 Shelly
    January 26, 2010 at 23:06

    Jodie, you beat me to the punch re: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I forwarded the CNN clip about the Israeli team in Haiti to practically everyone I know. One friend wrote back that there were rumors circulating about the Israeli team harvesting organs from dead Haitians. So you see, even when we are behaving admirably, there are those who taint us with evil thoughts.
    Ya’ can’t win. Or, as Ephraim Kishon once wrote, “so sorry we won.” (This time.)

  5. January 27, 2010 at 17:51

    that was great and funny
    i agree comedy should and could be something to bring better days. as i guess and hope any art would do..

  6. 8 Aunt Frannie
    January 28, 2010 at 04:09

    Maybe when the people in Gaza and their terrorist friends in the greater Arab world stop trying to drive the Jews into the sea, they might receive the same aid as the Haitians. To this “merican” The Israeli Rescue Team in Haiti represents what could be given happen to the Arab world as well if there was peace.

    PS Any aid from the Arab world to Haiti?

    Uncle Chuck

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January 2010

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