What assumptions do you make about your country?
This past week I caught myself making a dramatic assumption about my country, Israel.
I was watching the news about Hurricane Matthew with Tal, Lenny’s eldest son (18 years old). We saw images from the US, mostly of flooding. Pity for the people whose homes were damaged welled up inside me. As difficult as that situation was, it was the images from Haiti that took my breath away, giving new meaning to the word “devastation”. It looked like the winds had peeled the homes from the ground, spun them around in the air and flung the pieces in every direction.
Quietly Tal asked, “We sent them aid, right?”
“We must have” I answered. “If we haven’t done so yet, we’ll send help soon.”
What an assumption! We both recognized people in desperate need and automatically assumed that our country, tiny Israel, would send Haiti help from halfway around the world.
It doesn’t matter that we are far away.
It doesn’t matter that the people of Haiti aren’t Jewish. Our nation doesn’t have much of a connection to theirs. It’s not a location Israelis tend to frequent. Israel doesn’t even have a resident embassy in Haiti.
It doesn’t matter that other countries are bigger and richer than we are and would find it easier to cope with the unexpected expense.
Or that we have too many of our own problems: threats on our borders, threats of terrorism, diplomatic terrorism (like that of the recent UNESCO resolution denying the connection between the Temple Mount and the Jewish people) and all of the internal social issues Israel struggles with every day. The issues Israel must handle would overwhelm most nations but that doesn’t matter.
The people of Haiti are in worse condition than we are and they need help.
Tal and I knew that Israel went to help the people of Haiti in 2010, following the earthquake that reduced much of their country to rubble.
For us, it was automatic to assume Israel would go again. It is the right thing to do. That’s what we always do. Of course, that is what would happen.
Following the news in the next few days, I didn’t hear anything about Israel sending aid. There was nothing on tv, I didn’t hear anything on the radio. The lack of news seemed so strange, I decided to look it up on the internet. There, I found the answer –
Israel had never left Haiti. We didn’t need to send aid because we were already there.
“As soon as the rain stopped, we came out and started contacting people we work with to understand the scale and the needs. We started arranging supplies and distributions, as many people have left without a shelter” reported Natalie Revesz, IsraAID’s country director based in Port-Au-Prince. The aid provided includes emergency supplies, food, clean water, and basic hygiene items.
Only two months ago, MASHAV, the Israel Foreign Ministry’s agency for international development cooperation, sent a new shipment of medical supplies to re-equip the trauma unit it established in one of Haiti’s main government hospitals three years ago.
That made more sense.
There was no fuss on the news because it was obvious. Why make a fuss? Of course, we would help.
That is my Israel, a country I can assume the best of and be correct.