Thursday, September 29, 2005

Come Hell or High Water...

It's not often that I have to read a newspaper headline twice, but an article in today's Jerusalem Post made me do a double take:
Israelis sneak into New Orleans to help in post-Katrina chaos


Why in the world do Israeli's need to sneak into New Orleans if they are going there to help?

Thankfully, the article manages to answer all that question, while highlighting a side of Israel that is not often covered in the media.
Washington may have rebuffed Israeli offers of expert assistance in the days after Hurricane Katrina, but a team of Israeli rescue personnel managed to deploy in some of the worst-hit areas around New Orleans, JTA has learned.

It seems like the goodwill of the Jewish / Israeli People and their determination to help those in need in New Orleans overcame the (less than good) will of the U.S. government to rebuff any and all assistance from Israel.
Asked about the Israeli personnel aid, a spokesman for FEMA said only that "there were many volunteer groups from different countries who came to Louisiana to help the people and the state."

Thankfully, in spite of the efforts by the U.S. government to hide Israeli relief efforts, Israel's efforts did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by those directly in the field.
Rep. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) said he was grateful for the Israelis' work.

"The work being done by IsraAID and their team members to help the people of Louisiana is greatly appreciated," Jindal told JTA in an e-mail message. "They are providing support services for people who have been devastated by the tragedy, offering whatever assistance is needed as it is needed. Their presence will make the effort to get people home and on with their lives that much easier."

Rep. Charles Melancon (D-La.) said the Israelis "performed courageously in south Louisiana when we needed them most."

"I'm personally very grateful for their efforts and I know that those they touched will always remember the generosity of the Israeli people, who sent help from so far away," he said in an e-mail to JTA.

Through their relief and rescue efforts, the Israeli delegation was able to perform a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of G-d's name) and serve as a "Light unto the nations", setting an example for all the nations of the world to follow.
The Israeli team received a two-ambulance escort onto a ferry and from there headed into the outlying parishes, where they were received with slightly puzzled appreciation.

"The soldiers were shocked seeing us," Lusky said. They asked the Israelis, "How come you came from so far? You have your own troubles. You're such a small country.

"The answer," Lusky continued, "is that we're a small country but big friends. For us it was so obvious. America has been such a good friend for ages."

If only the feeling were mutual...


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