The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually to the person or organization “… who in the preceding year shall have done the most or best work for fraternity between nations”. Unfortunately, progressive politics and Norwegian contrariness have produced a list of winners that leaves one scratching one’s head in disbelief (Barack Obama, Al Gore, Yassir Arafat, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations to name just a few) but there is one group of people whose selflessness, courage and meaningful contributions to numerous countries around the world are truly deserving of a Nobel Peace Prize. I’m talking about the Israeli Disaster Response Teams, aptly named “Chesed Shel Emet” (true kindness).
The IDRT actually consists of 13 different teams, all of whom are ready to leave at a moment’s notice to render assistance to those who have suffered natural disasters. In the past decade alone, the IDRT has dispatched personnel to almost 20 countries around the world to provide medical and humanitarian aid after earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods. The Israelis have set up extensive field hospitals, they have provided essential foodstuffs and desalinization equipment and they have devoted significant resources to the education of local authorities to maximize the effectiveness of their response to these tragedies. Israel has also made available to these countries Israeli-developed technology such as GPS systems designed to locate survivors and recover bodies to allow for dignified burials.
Perhaps the best example of the IDRT’s unparalleled rapidity of response and effectiveness is their actions in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. That tiny, impoverished country was struck by a cataclysmic tragedy that left thousands dead and tens of thousands injured. The Israelis were on the ground in Haiti within days and their field hospital was fully operational less than 4 days after the earthquake. In the 10 days after the facility was opened, the Israelis treated more than 1000 patients and operated on more than 200 severely injured individuals. They also helped local administrators and first-response teams maximize their own effectiveness through comprehensive training and providing much needed state-of-the-art equipment.
Some cynics, with more than a smidgen of anti-Semitism tainting their views, suggest that Israel’s IDRT program is a self-serving public relations exercise designed to curry favor with nations that have not been altogether friendly to Israel in the past. That perspective reveals both a bias against Israel (as if every other country providing foreign aid had no concern for the goodwill generated by their generosity) as well as a deep misunderstanding of Jewish values. Tikkun Olam, the directive to heal the world, actually means something to most Jews. Israel does what it can to alleviate pain and suffering around the world with no expectations or demands on the recipient.
(As an aside, Haiti often voted against Israel at the U.N. prior to 2010 and that voting trend has continued. So much for using the IDRT initiative to influence political positions).
So, I’m respectfully asking someone, anyone who is eligible to nominate a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize (politicians or professors for example) to complete the paperwork required to bring proper and overdue recognition to one of Israel’s most inspirational success stories. One can only hope that the Nobel Committee could drop their ‘wokeness’ long enough to honor a group truly deserving of a Peace Prize.