Pessimists who worry about Israel's public relations image in the world can rest easy. Better than any spokesman, better than any change of policy on the part of the prime minister is the work done by ISRA-Aid in conjunction with Israel Flying Aid.
The driving force behind ISRA-Aid and IFA is Gal Luski, the dynamic young mother of a seven-and-a-half year old son, whom she leaves in the care of her family on a northern kibbutz when she travels abroad to help people in trouble.
Some of the places that the volunteer organization has been over the past year include Sri Lanka where Tsunami victims received help from members who include physicians, deep sea divers, experts in trauma therapy, psychologists and social workers; Chechnya where they treated victims of violence; and Louisiana where they delivered food and pharmaceuticals to hurricane and flood victims in addition to giving them trauma therapy.
ISRA-Aid and IFA are dedicated to helping victims of crisis situations, conflict and natural disasters, Luski said on Monday at Beit Hanassi when she and several other volunteers went to update President Moshe Katsav on what they were doing.
They brought with them a DVD video-taped in Louisiana in which one of the recipients of their kindness says to them: "It melts my heart that you came all the way from Israel. We know what's going on in your country."
Accompanying the group to Beit Hanassi was Amram Mitzna, former chairman of the Labor Party and before that, the mayor of Haifa, who has left national politics to devote himself to upgrading the development town of Yeruham where he has been appointed interim mayor.
Mitzna who is a member of ISRA-Aid, said that he had become aware of the organization through a friend who had gone to Thailand to search for another friend who had disappeared. Mitzna accompanied him, witnessed what ISRA-Aid was doing to help find the missing person, and decided to join.
Praising ISRA-Aid and IFA for the efforts and knowledge they invest to solve the problems of others, "Katsav said that if everyone did what you do, the world would be a vastly different place."
"When you want to help," said Luski, "motivation triumphs over everything."
ISRA-Aid and IFA have gone to countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, but even there they fly the Israeli flag proudly, said Mitzna.
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