Many of my friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish, were deeply moved by the images of the Israeli field hospital and search and rescue teams on the ground in Turkey participating in the “Operation Olive Branch” humanitarian mission. They asked why there is so little awareness and appreciation in the outside world for all the good that Israel does for the world.
The challenge of Tikkun Olam is our own responsibility for others and for our world. Our Jewish state knows how to rally around now and always. Today more than ever before we have among us worldwide circles of aid and assistance. It does not matter where you are or what language you speak, we all grew up on a set of common values. When we open our hearts to the world and give of ourselves to others, we become part of a long tradition of charity and righteousness and, leading by personal example, part of the Jewish culture of Tikkun Olam. The State of Israel is totally dedicated to the idea that every person deserves the best medical treatment available; regardless of their nationality, religion, colour or gender.
The statistics are indeed impressive. Just hours after the first devastating earthquake struck Turkey and Syria, our tiny Jewish state flew in search and rescue and medical personnel, and a field hospital, to join the international aid effort. The IDF said 15 Air Force cargo planes ferried hundreds of tons of equipment and some 230 participants, including search and rescue experts, military medics and Health Ministry doctors, nurses and paramedics to Turkey to set up the hospital. As Prime Minister Netanyahu stated:
Israel is operating under the principal that it has a responsibility to offer humanitarian assistance to Turkey and Syria and other countries around the world.
As CBN news noted, “The tiny Jewish state has one of the top disaster relief teams in the world.” All through the freezing days and nights, our soldiers and NGO teams have been desperately, yet professionally, working with their specially trained search and rescue dogs to locate casualties trapped in the rubble. Our medical personal have been working tirelessly to save lives and bring new lives into this world. We remain determined to help the people affected by the earthquake. Daniel Gordis succinctly summed it up when he stated that, in addition to striving for the benefit our own citizens,
This country has become a country, with all of its imperfections, that sees as part of its purpose as looking out for other people.
Israel did not go to Turkey in a desperate effort to win “brownie points” from the international community, or gain a public image coup. Major Zehava Deutsch, a nurse on an IDF medical team observed, “I think it’s in our genes.” Times of Israel blogger Haviv Rettig Gur noted,
The IDF doesn’t go to [Turkey] 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.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Turkey and Syria, who have suffered greatly. Israel will continue to provide aid and assistance to all those who need help, because it is the right thing to do. Together, we will overcome the darkness, and rebuild for a brighter future.