Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Israel's Haiti relief elicits both praise and condemnation

Adam Holland
26 January '10

(Adam gives an excellent survey what has been put out there. The good guys on one side and the problematic personalities, as is expected. Y.)

Israel's efforts to assist Haitians at their time of need have, for the most part, been praised. At a time when virtually all Haitians were deprived of health care, Israel was the first to set up a fully operational field hospital, before the U.S., France, the U.N., Red Cross, etc.. They also sent rescue teams to find and extract people trapped in collapsed buildings -- an effort which saved many lives. Predictably, those who are predisposed to do so have found grounds for condemnation in what most observers would call noble efforts and achievements. Here's a sampling:

Richard Silverstein, a Seattle resident who blogs at Tikkun Olam (rough translation: "repair the world"), has found Israel's Haitian relief to be the sort of world-repairing the world could do without. In a strongly worded column he calls "The Zionization of Disaster Relief" (read here), Silverstein writes that sending portable toilets, rather than doctors, medical equipment and rescue teams, would have been more useful to the Haitians. Silverstein condemns Israel's decision to send doctors instead of toilets as being based on public relations considerations.

He also claims without providing a source that a Haitian woman who gave birth in the Israeli field hospital was pressured by the Israelis to name her child "Israel". He captions a photo of the mother and child posted on his blog "A baby named Israel...who, if he reaches adulthood, would never be welcome in Israel". (On the contrary, that child would be very welcome there, but if he does visit, Silverstein will condemn it as Zionist PR.)

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