Fundamentally Freund: Israel's finest hour indeed

It was quite a week for Jewish heroism. Over the course of a few days, our country saved lives in Haiti and welcomed Jews from Ethiopia back into the fold.

michael freund 88 (photo credit: )
michael freund 88
(photo credit: )

If there is anyone who still doubts the abilityof the State of Israel to accomplish great things, the events of thepast week should lay those concerns to rest. From one end of the worldto the other, the highest ideals of Judaism and Zionism wereprominently on display, as Israel took part not in one - but two! -remarkable missions laden with meaning.

Acrossthe ocean, amid the rubble-strewn streets of Port-au-Prince, three IDFrescue teams carefully searched through the ruins of the Haitiancapital for survivors of the devastating January 12 earthquake. Racingagainst the clock, these young Jews in uniform, accompanied byspecially-trained canines, heroically sorted through mounds of debrisand wreckage to pull the wounded to safety.

Over the weekend, the guardians in green extricated a58-year-old man from beneath his flattened home, and on Monday, theysaved the life of a student who had been trapped for six days under ashattered university building.

Following their exploits in the press, one could only marvel atthe valor and courage of our soldiers, as they risked their lives tosave those of others, in the process bringing honor to us all.

Meanwhile, the field hospital established by the IDFto treat victims of the disaster was quickly making a name for itselfas the best-run and most fully-equipped operation in the area. Set uplast Friday on a soccer field, the complex boasts 40 doctors and 24nurses, as well as teams of paramedics, X-ray equipment and personnel,an emergency room, a children's ward, a maternity ward and even apharmacy.

No other nation, including the US, has yet to establishanything remotely as advanced or comprehensive, despite the passage ofmore than a week since the quake hit.

No wonder the American television network CBSwent so far as to call the IDF hospital the "Rolls-Royce of medicine inHaiti." Indeed, Israel's health team has been doing such a terrific jobthat even CNN (a.k.a. the consistently negative network) couldn't findanything critical to say, as their senior medical correspondent heapedpraise on the IDF's work.


Though a vast gulf separates Israel from Haiti, with more than10,500 kilometers of ocean lying between us, the Jewish peopledemonstrated that their extended hand can bridge any gap and traverseany chasm when it comes to saving lives.

BUT THE residents of the Caribbean island nation were not theonly 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 centuriesago.

Landing at Ben-Gurion Airport early Tuesday morning, the newimmigrants were greeted by Interior Minister Eli Yishai and ImmigrantAbsorption 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 journeyback to the land of their ancestors. Hundreds more are expected toarrive over the next few months, as the government finally movestowards fulfilling its previous promises to allow the remaining membersof the community to make aliya.

And so, even as our foes noisily continue to assert thatZionism is racism, Israel stands alone in embracing a black Africancommunity 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 oftenget caught up in the negativity that seems to fill the news each daythat we tend to overlook the beauty and splendor of this country andits achievements.

It is moments such as these when we need to stop what we aredoing, cast a gaze towards the heavens, and proudly declare: Thank Godfor the State of Israel. Without it, the world would be a far lessnoble place.