Haiti field hospital demonstrates Israel’s humanitarianism, technical skills
By Rabbi Leonard Rosenthal
SAN DIEGO — Considering all of the bad press Israel receives, I was thrilled to see the NBC Nightly News positive coverage of the field hospital set up by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) following the earthquake in Haiti. If you did not see the NBC broadcast last Tuesday, you can watch the clip on YouTube by clicking here.
You can also read an article about Israel’s response to the disaster in the Haaretz newspaper by clicking here.
Even before the scope of the disaster was known, Israel flew in two 747’s loaded with medical equipment and personnel and set up a complete field hospital near the airport. The hospital included advanced medical diagnostic equipment and a well-trained staff. The Israelis immediately began treating earthquake victims with expertise and compassion. As IDF Colonel Dr. Ariel Bar, interviewed in the NBC video said, “When we save the life of one person we feel that we have saved the world, so we saved the world several times in this mission.”
I could not help but reflect on the attitudes of those individuals who do not think Israel has the right to exist. Without Israel, not only would the survivors in Haiti endure greater suffering, but so would the millions of people who benefit from Israel’s technological, agricultural, biological, and medical advances (yes, I do mean millions!).
Even the Egyptian Pharaoh at the time of the Exodus understood the value of the contribution of the Israelites to his country. One of the reasons Pharaoh did not want to let the Israelites go was philosophical: Pharaoh thought he was a god and refused to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over him and his land. But the second reason was practical: Pharaoh knew that the Israelite slaves had contributed a great deal to the infrastructure of his country. They had built his store houses and completed other projects. Without the Israelite slaves’ construction, Egypt would come to a near standstill. His country had greatly benefitted from their servitude.
Pharaoh even acknowledges their contribution explicitly after he finally allows the Israelites to leave. As they approach the Red Sea, Pharaoh has a change of heart and says: “What is this we have done, releasing Israel from our service?” (Ex. 14:5) We know what happens next when he chases them and pursues them through the divided sea.
The Israelis serving in Haiti should be a reminder to the world of all the good that this tiny country does. Her enemies should consider what they personally would lose before they renew their calls for the decedents of the ancient Israelites to be cast into the sea.
Rabbi Rosenthal is spiritual leader of Tifereth Israel Synagogue in San Diego