Pakistan Flood 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Jewish organizations have begun raising funds for flood relief in Pakistan, the
world’s second most populous Muslim nation.
In the past week,
organizations such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC),
the American Jewish World Service and World Jewish Relief have asked donors to
give money to help the estimated 20 million Pakistanis suffering from the
effects of the torrential rain and flooding.
“By harnessing our vast
experience in international disaster relief and tapping our network of
on the ground to assess the most pressing needs, JDC will quickly
those affected by the floods in Pakistan,” JDC CEO Steven Schwager said
press release on Wednesday.
William Recant, assistant executive vice
president at JDC, who is charged with overlooking the relief effort to
told The Jerusalem Post how his organization planned to distribute
“We’re looking to work with traditional partners such as Heart
to Heart, which sends medical volunteers; the Blue Crescent operating
Turkey, who we’ve helped a few years ago to build a school in a distant
of Pakistan, and the Afya Foundation, which collects medical supplies in
hospitals throughout the New York area and sends containers of medical
JDC has been involved in humanitarian efforts in Pakistan twice
before, in response to earthquakes that struck the South Asian country
The first time JDC reached out to Muslims in need was in 1999,
when it helped Kosovan refugees returning from Macedonia after the civil
their country ended.
Meanwhile, the UK-based World Jewish Relief called
donors to help buy the 800 kits containing rehydration salts, mosquito
blankets, kitchen equipment, a floor mat and a plastic sheet for shelter
plans to distribute to those in need in Pakistan.
organizations’ response to the crisis in Pakistan illustrates the
well-established change in the pattern of Diaspora Jewish giving in
years. There was a time when raising money from Jewish donors for people
in a predominantly Muslim nation wouldn't have been on the agenda of a
Up until about two decades ago funds were exclusively
related to Israeli or Jewish causes.
However, Jewish organizations across
the board now support a large and growing number of non-Jewish causes in
and around the world.
Recant cited two reasons for this change. First, he
said the media has raised awareness among Jews and non-Jews to
humanitarian crises by “placing it in our faces.”
He said the second
reason is the willingness of governments to cooperate and the increased
transporting aid around the world.
“Today, unlike 20 years ago, we can
get goods into the country,” he said. “There is real coordination.”
aid is controversial in certain quarters, with some Jewish leaders
Jewish money should be given only to Jewish causes.
Recant said that so
far, no Pakistani recipients have rejected Jewish aid on political or
grounds and the government of Pakistan has willingly accepted and
support from Jewish organizations.
The JDC added that money raised for
Pakistan and other international crises, like relief for the 2004 Indian
tsunami or the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year, is entirely
its core activities supporting Jewish communities around the world.
said helping Muslim flood victims in Pakistan complied with the Jewish
tikkun olam, or repairing the world.
“Doing this work in an interfaith
basis working with Christians, Muslims and others, it’s incredible,”
said. “And the fact that the Jewish community is sitting at that table