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Saving Lives Isn’t About How Large the Distance, It’s About How Far You’re Willing to Go

Brazil Ziv Gala 21 march 2019

Authored by Rabbi Moshe Pitchon, brought to print by Nurit Greenger

Israel’s Humanitarianism

Daniel Gordis, the rabbi and prolific author, noted some time ago that “Israeli humanitarian aid is unique in that it invariably evokes cynicism.”

Gordis was probably commenting on what Ken Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director said. It was after Israel deployed a 260-IDF member delegation to Kathmandu, Nepal, where they provided search and rescue and medical services, after a massive earthquake struck the region, killing more than 2,000 and injuring more than 4,700 people.

Roth tweeted:

Easier to address a far-away humanitarian disaster than the nearby one of Israel’s making in Gaza. End the blockade!”

I had found Steven Cook’s reaction, in Newsweek, very sobering: “Let’s review why it is easier for the Israelis to provide relief in Nepal than in Gaza: Since 2005, about 15,000 rockets have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. The Nepalese have not fired a single rocket at Israel.”

But, it was The Times of Israel’s senior analyst Haviv Rettig Gur who touched the core reason why Israel went to help the Nepalese.

The IDF doesn’t go to Nepal to avoid the Palestinian issue. It goes because Israelis have honed emergency medicine into an art form, and because the IDF has never quite shed its founding culture of adventurousness, and, above all, because there are people out there who desperately need help.”

As my organization, Friends of Ziv Medical Center, is working on an initiative to bring doctors, medicines and vaccines to support the health system of countries bordering Venezuela, overwhelmed by the demand of Venezuelan refugees for medical assistance, I was following with admiration the work of the Israeli team that just went to Brazil to help with search and rescue operations.

Ziv for Venezuelan Refugees

You will recall that on Friday, January 25th, 2019, a dam at an iron-ore mine collapsed in Southern Brazil, killing at least 121 people and flooding the area with mine dump.

Following 12 hours of discussions between Israeli and Brazilian officials, in order to assess the needs, the 136-strong Israeli team left Israel and brought along with the human help 16 tons of sophisticated equipment. It included a sonar device recently purchased by ZAKA Emergency Services to assist in similar missions; radar, underwater sonar, voice/echo detectors systems and drones.

After a 14 hour flight, late Sunday night, February 3rd, 2019, the Israelis landed in Brazil.

The IDF tweeted:

Saving lives isn’t about how large the distance is, it’s about how far you’re willing to go.”

And then, cartoonist Carlos Latuff, released this drawing in which President Bolsonaro welcomes an Israeli military unit whose hands are stained with blood.

cartoonist Carlos Latuff cartoon

They say, “Sorry for the delay! We were busy killing Palestinians.”

Marcos L Susskind who lives in Israel posted this comment on Facebook:

Mr. Carlos Latuff:

Your caricature lives up to the group you defend.

Your total and absolute lack of humanity, as expressed in this disgusting caricature show disdain for life.

Buried in the mud, there might be some who can still be saved and dozens or hundreds who deserve a dignified burial and a last moment with the family.

But your fanaticism, your moral breakdown, your rooted anti-Semitism cannot see goodness anywhere.

Your only concern is the destruction of faith, of goodness, of empathy.

If your Palestinian friends arrived here, they would not come to save anyone or to bring humanitarian action.

There is no historical record of aid provided by Palestinians since the goal they seem to defend is destruction, murder, explosion in subway cars and nightclubs, death, pain and nothing else.

This group of Israeli Soldiers that has just arrived in Brazil is considered the best rescue force in the world. They worked in the Philippines and Thailand, Haiti and Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, always bringing life, unlike your Palestinian “friends” who are only remembered by the massacres in Paris and Brussels, London and Madrid, in Nice and Tel Aviv, Chexenia and India.”

Leandro Spett, a Jewish cartoonist, also posted a drawing in response to Latuff:

As Brazilian and Israeli rescuers struggle to reach a survivor’s hand sticking out of the mud, a Palestinian cartoonist watches the scene.

Leandro Spett,cartoon

The Brazilian shouts, “You stay there and don’t do anything? Go get help! Go!

The smiling cartoonist continues to depict the scene and writes: “Israeli kills a survivor.

Facing this kind of criticism, many Jews are repudiating their Jewish identity, which expresses in being for others; they are advocating instead a “being for ourselves” and “don’t waste time with the others.”

Professor Elhanan Bar-On, now the Director of The Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response, commented after Israel went to Haiti to help with the aftermath of the earthquake.

In Haiti, Israeli doctors treated 1,111 patients out of the half-million who needed assistance.

Every person we treated, we changed his life, and beyond that, we gave thousands of people a feeling of hope, at a moment when they thought the whole world abandoned them. In a place of complete darkness, even one candle makes a lot of light.”

It was Theodore Herzl who prophetically said:

Whatever we attempt in the state of the Jews for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind.”

Life & Hope Gala

Today Israeli doctors, live science technicians and entrepreneurs and many in other professions are at the forefront of humanitarian aid in the world.

As we prepare to honor them, on March 21st, 2019, with the “Life & Hope Medical Humanitarian Awards” in Miami Beach, Florida, we understand that


Hope to see you on March 21st, 2019.

Rabbi Moshe Pitchon, President

Chair ‘Life & Hope’ Gala

Friends of Ziv Medical Center

During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the “Accidental Reporter” felt compelled to become an activist. Being an ‘out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a “one-woman Hasbarah army” for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

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