Help is on the way! A major earthquake rocks Nepal and thousands are feared dead. While most of the world sits silently and simply watches the news, Israel put together a team of medical experts plus a search and rescue team that will risk their lives looking for survivors. I have to be honest. You may get excited when Israel sends emergency teams and supplies to help in international disasters, but I do not. Sorry for being so blunt but I do not jump for joy when I see my brothers and sisters running to Haiti, Indonesia or Pakistan, unless it is to save Jews who are trapped there. Since this sounds very selfish, mean and un-Jewish (aren’t we merciful people?) allow me to explain.
According to the official website of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs(www.mfa.gov.il) Israel has provided humanitarian aid to 140 countries in the last 54 years! Whenever a problem arises, you can be sure that little, tiny Israel will be there to help. Sounds nice, right? What could be bad about that? Just to see what I am talking about, please go to the website above and read the list of countries that Israel has helped. It is a lesson in geography with countries listed in alphabetical order from Albania and Angola to Zaire and Zambia. And yet, despite all the good intentions, I am totally against these missions.
Before explaining my position, allow me to remind you of what Israel has done in the last few years. In January 2010, after a devastating earthquake in Haiti, the IDF set up a field hospital and provided search and rescue teams to look through the rubble. In December 2004, when one of the worst tsunamis in history hit the Indian Ocean, Israel sent 60 tons of aid to Indonesia – a country with the largest Moslem population in the world! In addition it sent 82 tons of relief supplies including medicine, water, food, blankets, tents and electric generators to Sri Lanka. In November 2005, Israel provided aid to Pakistan after a major earthquake hit Kashmir. Israel provided thousands of Pakistani families with food, blankets, socks, coats, heating kits and iron sheets to shield temporary shelters from heavy snow.
In addition to the Israeli government, there are several non-profit organizations that have been set up in Israel to help international efforts as well. These include IsraAID which was founded in 2001 and which has provided relief work in countries like Rwanda, Mexico, Congo, Chad, Sudan and Malawi. An organization called FIRST (Fast Israeli Rescue Search Team) has sent search and rescue teams to disaster zones in Peru, Turkey, India, El Salvador, Greece and New Guinea. These are just two examples of many organizations that are involved in this international humanitarian work.
So why am I against this? What can be bad about such wonderful and pure efforts? The answer is that my reason has nothing to do with the work being done. Yes, chessed is a wonderful thing and should be encouraged, but let’s look at the other side of the coin.
A person who is like a doormat gets no respect. Simply put, if you let people “step all over you”, they will constantly mistreat you. Trust me that I am the first one to lend a helping hand and assist a friend in need. I do not expect nor even want anything in return but at the same time, I also don’t want to be spit in the face by the guy I am helping! I don’t mind if the person who I helped turns his back on me down the road – the Torah speaks about this and still obligates me to help him. I am not talking about that. I am talking about helping a guy who later condemns me, hates me, tries to destroy me and does everything possible to hurt me and my family. To still help that guy is not doing chessed… its being a “friar” (Hebrew for “sucker”). Helping someone who then stabs you in the back causes you – the helper – to lose respect and be considered a fool in the eyes of the community.
If what I am saying applies to an individual, how much more so does it apply to a nation? We, the proud Jewish nation, the sons and daughters of the King, have a major guilt complex. Since nobody helped us during the Holocaust, we feel compelled to help anyone and everyone in need. We fly planes loaded with soldiers, volunteers and supplies half way across the world to help any country in need… and this is what I object to. We should not simply help “any country in need”… we should help only those who don’t turn around and spit in our face – and if Nepal fits this description then fine, let’s go! Trust me that I am aware of the fact that Israel needs relations with the international community and I am prepared to deal with, and ignore, many things. But Israel is not a national Rodney Dangerfield… we better get some respect around here!
Let me give you just one example of what I mean. In July 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Council voted to condemn Israel for “widespread, systematic and gross violations of international human rights and fundamental freedoms arising from the Israeli military operation in Gaza.” This council, known as the UNHRC is made up of 47 member countries. It began on June 19, 2006 and since that time, has voted to condemn Israel… 52 times! Countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Peru, Greece and Turkey have been members of this council. All of these countries have received humanitarian aid from Israel in their times of crisis, yet when it came time to vote on whether or not Israel is a human rights violator – every single one of them voted against Israel! These votes are not meaningless UN votes – they have international ramifications! It is precisely votes such as these that have increased anti-Semitism in the world and have caused millions of Jews much pain and anguish.
In the vote stated above (July 2014 re: the recent Gaza war), only the United States voted in support of Israel! Not one other country – including many who received emergency help from Israel – was there to support Israel. Instead they sided with our enemy – who has never lifted a finger to help anyone but themselves – while simultaneously condemning and insulting Israel. Once again, this stirs the pot of Jew hatred around the world and fuels the fire of anti-Semitism, which is at a post WWII high. Think about it for a minute; if the country you live in condemns Israel and convinces you that Israel is a human rights violator, would you support Israel or would your blood boil when you see an Israeli flag and even a Jew with a kippa? All of this stems from the message being sent by the countries of the world that trash Israel 24/7 but are the first ones to call her when an earthquake or tsunami hits. My message to them is clear; If you are not going to vote with and support Israel in the UN, then call someone else when trouble heads your way. Sorry, but the number you are trying to reach has been temporarily disconnected!