michael freund 88.
(photo credit: )
If there is anyone who still doubts the ability
of the State of Israel to accomplish great things, the events of the
past week should lay those concerns to rest. From one end of the world
to the other, the highest ideals of Judaism and Zionism were
prominently on display, as Israel took part not in one - but two! -
remarkable missions laden with meaning.
the ocean, amid the rubble-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince, three IDF
rescue teams carefully searched through the ruins of the Haitian
capital for survivors of the devastating January 12 earthquake. Racing
against the clock, these young Jews in uniform, accompanied by
specially-trained canines, heroically sorted through mounds of debris
and wreckage to pull the wounded to safety.
Over the weekend, the guardians in green extricated a
58-year-old man from beneath his flattened home, and on Monday, they
saved the life of a student who had been trapped for six days under a
shattered university building.
Following their exploits in the press, one could only marvel at
the valor and courage of our soldiers, as they risked their lives to
save those of others, in the process bringing honor to us all.
Meanwhile, the field hospital established by the IDF
to treat victims of the disaster was quickly making a name for itself
as the best-run and most fully-equipped operation in the area. Set up
last Friday on a soccer field, the complex boasts 40 doctors and 24
nurses, as well as teams of paramedics, X-ray equipment and personnel,
an emergency room, a children's ward, a maternity ward and even a
No other nation, including the US, has yet to establish
anything remotely as advanced or comprehensive, despite the passage of
more than a week since the quake hit.
No wonder the American television network CBS
went so far as to call the IDF hospital the "Rolls-Royce of medicine in
Haiti." Indeed, Israel's health team has been doing such a terrific job
that even CNN (a.k.a. the consistently negative network) couldn't find
anything critical to say, as their senior medical correspondent heaped
praise on the IDF's work.
Though a vast gulf separates Israel from Haiti, with more than
10,500 kilometers of ocean lying between us, the Jewish people
demonstrated that their extended hand can bridge any gap and traverse
any chasm when it comes to saving lives.
BUT THE residents of the Caribbean island nation were not the
only beneficiaries of Israel's humanity this week. Much closer to home,
we were witness to the arrival of 82 members of the Falash Mura,
descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity centuries
Landing at Ben-Gurion Airport early Tuesday morning, the new
immigrants were greeted by Interior Minister Eli Yishai and Immigrant
Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.
It was a scene that should fill every Jewish heart with pride,
as the remnants of Ethiopian Jewry complete the millennial-old journey
back to the land of their ancestors. Hundreds more are expected to
arrive over the next few months, as the government finally moves
towards fulfilling its previous promises to allow the remaining members
of the community to make aliya.
And so, even as our foes noisily continue to assert that
Zionism is racism, Israel stands alone in embracing a black African
community and welcoming it into our midst.
So it was quite a week for Jewish heroism. Over the course of a few days, the State of Israel saved lives and saved Jews.
It was, in every respect, Israel's finest hour.
Will all this change how the world views us? I doubt it.
But let it at least change how we view ourselves. We so often
get caught up in the negativity that seems to fill the news each day
that we tend to overlook the beauty and splendor of this country and
It is moments such as these when we need to stop what we are
doing, cast a gaze towards the heavens, and proudly declare: Thank God
for the State of Israel. Without it, the world would be a far less