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The U.N's Politics of Humanitarianism


Rachel Raskin-Zrihen, Jewish World Review
30, 2004 / 18 Teves, 5764
, January 12, 2005
You're unlikely to learn this in the world's newspapers, but Israel was among the first nations to offer help to those affected by last week's terrible disaster in south Asia. It sent doctors, supplies and set aside $100,000 for each nation hit by the recent tsunamis, according to reports in the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA). This wouldn't be such a big deal, except that reports of nations offering help released by the United Nations and printed in newspapers worldwide, don't include it. They do, however, include the donations several other countries whose contribution were as much or less. One report lists donations of personnel and material separately. Israel, which sent four top doctors from its Hadassah Hospital (including its head of general surgery and trauma, its chief of pediatrics and two anesthesiologists,) to Sri Lanka, the JTA reports, was not mentioned.

You may not know that the American Jewish World Service expected to send its first shipment of medicine Tuesday to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and India. The JTA reports the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is working with its office in Bombay and elsewhere to coordinate efforts to provide food, water, clothing and shelter to affected countries. B'nai B'rith is accepting donations to help victims, and an Orthodox outreach group in Thailand also responded to the crisis.

It dispatched a rabbi to Phuket to aid rescue efforts, and turned three of their Thailand outposts into crisis centers where survivors can call home, have a free meal or receive funds for new clothing and medical help.

You also might not learn, unless you searched the information out like I did, that there were perhaps 200 Jewish victims of the disaster still missing as of Tuesday, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry, which told the JTA that at least 33 Israelis are receiving treatment in hospitals in the region. I've read about the terrible losses suffered in this disaster by citizens of many other nations, but not a word about these people, which include a Belgian Jewish couple whose 11 month old son was reportedly ripped from their arms and drowned.

In the same issue Tuesday, the JTA reported about a couple of Israeli scientists making a breakthrough in the treatment of AIDS, which follows closely on the heals of the two Israeli scientists recently awarded the Nobel Prize for their breakthrough in cancer treatment. But that's another story you're not likely to read much of in the mainstream press. Maybe I'm paranoid, but I can't think of an innocent explanation for the omission of Israel's contributions to this and other humanitarian efforts worldwide by the UN and the world's main media outlets. I can't help feeling it's a not-so-subtle attempt to isolate Israel and the Jewish people from the world community, at least in print and therefore in public opinion, even while Israel and many Jews go about the business of behaving like human beings.

Not that they're doing what they do for recognition, but it's enormously frustrating that this keeps happening. For instance, did you know that Israel was the first country in the world, even before the United States, to conduct a national moment of silence for the 9/11 victims? This was done even as many Palestinians shouted, danced and handed out candy. Maybe you didn't know about that, either. The UN should just admit it despises the Jewish state and the Jewish people, has no intention of ever recognizing anything positive either ever does, and dispense with the pretense of fairness once and for all. But dispelling the myth that Israel in particular and Jews in general are the world's bad guys is imperative not just to combat growing worldwide anti-Semitism, but also for Jews who might, if they rely on the mainstream media for information, be starting to question themselves. Not to worry , though, the humanity of the people the former head of Malaysia recently accused of "inventing" human rights remains intact, no matter what you read or don't read in the paper.