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.