Maariv: Haiti’s Disaster, Good for Jews
I couldn’t have made this up myself if I’d tried (and a big h/t to Paul Woodward). It seems that despite Israel’s best hasbara efforts, it manages to shoot itself in the foot on a regular basis. Comes word that Maariv, Israel’s rightist daily, features this headline:
Painful Truth: Haiti’s Disaster, Good for Jews
The article is a veritable roadmap to the uses of hasbara amidst world disasters. Here’s a sampling:
With all the suffering in the face of the Haitian horror, the attitude toward Israel thanks to the emergency relief team teaches that the State is obligated to initiate hasbara and not just to respond.
Indeed. Israel’s apologists will claim that this is but a single headline and doesn’t necessarily represent the real feelings of Israelis or of the military or government that sent the relief teams. But I’m afraid that this is a truth that must be faced–or at least should be faced by those with conscience. Israel’s relief effort is a perversion of Maimonides levels of tzedakah, of which the highest is the anonymous gift. You can rightfully argue as many have here that no nation does good merely for its own sake these days. While this is generally an accurate statement, Israel’s transparent effort to divert the world’s attention from Goldstone and Gaza is almost self-evident except to her die-hard supporters.
The post I wrote about Israel’s PR bonanza in Haiti elicited an enormous outpouring of interest, anger and support due to interest from social networking sites like Reddit. The die-hard pro-Israelists were shocked that I could question Israel’s motives in bringing a field hospital to Haiti along with a full contingent of IDF press handlers, full TV video transmission equipment, and Israeli TV and print reporters.
Prof. Yoel Donchin of Hadassah medical center was also derogated when he claimed that Israeli disaster crews must stay on site for 2-3 months instead of 2 weeks to make a difference. One of my commenters took umbrage claiming that Israel’s medical team will remain for five weeks. Another of my readers relayed that Israel Radio reported this afternoon that Israel’s delegation would leave the island at week’s end. That would mean the team stayed even less than two weeks (10 days to be exact). There seem to be few remaining babies to be named “Israel,” and no more survivors to be pulled from the rubble, and no more heart-warming human interest stories for CNN and ABC News. Likely, the IDF will move on to greener hasbara pastures–like the brand-spanking new report designed to rebut Goldstone (more about that later tonight).
To add insult to injury, Israel is contemplating adopting Haitian children orphaned by the earthquake. I don’t know how you would approach adopting such a child. But one of my first considerations given I am Jewish and white and the adoptee is Christian and black, is to figure out a way to honor the child’s religious and ethnic background. Not so Israel according to Social Welfare Minister (Labor) Isaac Herzog:
Herzog said that all children adopted from Haiti would undergo the standard conversion process to Judaism.
Do we not remember what happened to many Jewish children who were saved by Christians during the Holocaust and never returned to Judaism after the war ended? One of these became the Cardinal of Paris. Is this not a sensitive issue among many of us? If we would not want Christians taking advantage of our own catastrophe to convert our children to their religion, why should Haitians not be sensitive to the same issue?
A few pointed questions: you’re going to force 8, 10 or 12 year-old boys to undergo brit milah? You’re going to bring Creole-speaking, black Christian children 5,000 miles from their home to live in a country which already faces ethnic discrimination against its Ethiopian immigrants. Why are you doing this? To flatter your vanity as a humanitarian? Wouldn’t it be better to work on improving Haiti’s ability to care for its own orphans and placing them for adoption either in that country or neighboring majority-black countries?
To me, Israel’s effort is the white man’s burden run amok.
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8 thoughts on “Maariv: Haiti’s Disaster, Good for Jews – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Richard – this is one of the occasions (few!) where I would be less critical of Israel and Israeli actions than you have been; but I agree that is a shocking headline – I actualy re-read it three times and your article, hoping that I had misunderstood it, but unfortunately not!
Just two things: firstly, I am a bit unsure as to how exactly this is meant to be ‘good for the Jews’ is it just the PR of the aid effort or the distraction from Goldstone/Gaza – because I find both of these arguements kind of weak. The former because lots of other countries are doing more, mainly because they can spare more, than Israel and even on a per capita basis, we are told that Sweden is one of the most generous donors, so the Israeli PR story is really a very small one and doesn’t seem to warrant this kind of headline. As for the second, from what I can see though, Goldstone/Gaza was effectively on the backburner anyway, with Afghanistan and Iran taking centrestage – in anycase, it is an issue that won’t go away and will be able to re-emerge unlike a disaester story which tends to run out after a few weeks.
Secondly, is the tone and content of the rest of the article more moderate and reflective – maybe the headline was ironic or just designed to grab attention (however ill-advised) as a hook for the rest of the story? Maybe I am grabbing at straws here but I can’t read Hebrew, so can’t tell.
Well, that’s an interesting new way to tip the demographic scales – import orphans from natural and man-made disasters into Israel and convert them to Judaism. Voila! Instant Israeli citizens. Never mind that the kids would be better off staying in their own countries with their own cultures and their own religions. Never mind that it’s almost the equivalent of British aristocracy kidnapping Native American children in the 1700’s and spiriting them back to England to be raised there.
The thinking coming out of Israel these days just becomes more and more bizarre and dysfunctional every day.
Wasn’t Israel kidnapping babies and converting them to Judaism what the Turkish TV show that started the whole brouhaha between Israel and Turkey about?
They aren’t going to circumcise those kids near or past the age of sexual maturity, are they? That’s barbaric.
I was the victim of a botched bris (too much to drink, I think) and it hasn’t been pretty, and pretty devastating until I found out exactly what was wrong.
Yeah, well, shortly after 9/11/01 Bibi Netanyahu said the attacks were a very good thing for Israel, or words to that effect. So, what’s new in the Land of the Narcissists?
RE: “The die-hard pro-Israelists were shocked that I could question Israel’s motives in bringing a field hospital to Haiti along with a full contingent of IDF press handlers…” – R.S.
SEE: Italian official condemns Haiti earthquake relief as ‘vanity parade’, guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 January 2010
(EXCERPT)…The Italian government official who led the country’s response to the L’Aquila earthquake has condemned relief efforts in Haiti as a disorganised “vanity parade”, ahead of an international conference on rebuilding the devastated country…
…Having arrived in Haiti on Friday, Bertolaso said he had seen “a terrible situation that could have been managed much better”.
“When there is an emergency it triggers a vanity parade. Lots of people go there anxious to show that their country is big and important, showing solidarity,” he said.
He expressed doubt over the efficacy of having so many US military personnel involved. “It’s a truly powerful show of force but it’s completely out of touch with reality. They don’t have close rapport with the territory, they certainly don’t have a rapport with the international organisations and aid groups.”…
ENTIRETY – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/25/italy-condemns-haiti-earthquake-relief-effort
P.S. If any government can qualify as an expert on vanity, surely it must be the Berlusconi government!
FYI since the comments have been that KSA has not donated
Kingdom donates $50m for Haiti quake relief
Sultan Al-Tamimi | Arab News
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia will donate $50 million in aid to earthquake-devastated Haiti. “On instructions from Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the Kingdom will donate $50 million to assist the Haitian people,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Osama Nugali said Monday.
The cash donation is thought to be the largest given by a Middle Eastern country, although some have made significant donations in kind. The funds will be channeled through the United Nations.
Last week, the secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, urged all OIC member states and Islamic organizations to provide help to Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Meanwhile, the Riyadh-based Arab Gulf Program for United Nations Development Organizations (AGFUND) has become one of the first organizations in the Kingdom to donate to Haiti, with a contribution of $100,000. “The contribution is an extension to the role of the Arab Gulf Program and its humanitarian stand in alleviating the suffering of victims, and it is in response to the urgent call from the Haitian government for humanitarian assistance,” AGFUND spokesman Abdul Latiff said.
You can be assured that private donations were made as well without shouting it from the minarets.
This article give a good rundown of the donations made by the “Muslim countries.”
Saudi Arabia made a gift pledge of $500 million.