A Defense Force for Humanity

21 Jan

” We believe that if you save one life, you save a world.” Colonel Dr. Ariel Barr, IDF in Haiti.  Watch this NBC report.

President of Israel, Shimon Peres, put in a call to the Israeli contingent in Haiti, and these were some of his words:

‘“I thank you for expressing the humanity of the IDF. Your dedication shows the beautiful spirit of the IDF, which is human and respectful for life. The few moments of hope the citizens of Haiti have, are those when survivors are rescued from the ruins. The saving of lives and giving of lives. I speak in the name of the entire country when I thank you for your devotion, your abilities and your dedication, for bringing relief for the injured and pride to our State. The entire people watches every day with a crying heart and deep worry. You highlighted the ability of the IDF, which is not only the Defense Force of Israel, but a defense force for humanity.”

I have a lump in my throat every time I think of these words.  Two weeks ago I wrote about the future of Zionism.  I am feeling like what the IDF is doing in Haiti is a microcosm of what it is that the Jewish people and the State of Israel are capable of doing. Unfortunately, there are ongoing disasters of differing proportions throughout the world.  Drought, famine, disease – it is my prayer that Israel ultimately take upon itself the role of getting out there with the ingenuity that it seems only we have mastered, to better the world in all kinds of ways. In Herzl’s fiction book Altneuland, he envisions a palace in Jerusalem (in addition to  the Temple which he describes as rebuilt!).  That palace he called the Peace Palace..

Here in the Peace Palace, such universal efforts are channeled into one stream.  Wherever in the world a catastrophe occurs – earthquake, flood, famine, drought, epidemic – the stricken country wires to this centre for help.  Here there is always a stock of necessary supplies, because both the gifts of such supplies and the requests for them are centralized here. 

I swear, Herzl had the gift of prophecy!

In this week’s parasha, we will read of the exodus from Egypt.  Following all the havoc wreaked upon the Egyptians – the severe destruction of infrastructure and loss of life and limb – one would expect that the Egyptians would have looked at all of this destruction – all that Moses and Aaron had brought upon them through the auspices of their diety – and cursed them with the most horrible of curses – prayed to their Egyptian gods for Israel’s destruction – revenge, revenge!

However, the Torah tells us that this was not the case. It was just the opposite!

The LORD made it that the nation found favor in the eyes of the Egyptians , and they gave them whatever they asked for. In this way they carried away the wealth of the Egyptians when they left Egypt. (Exodus 12:36)

Why was this so? Perhaps the Torah means to teach us that God helped the Egyptian people realize who the real enemy was – their own Pharoah and his cabinet of advisors.  They realized what is was that their own leadership had wrought, what they had done to the Israelite nation, how they had oppressed them and enslaved them, and misled the Egyptian nation down a path of self-destruction.  There, at the rock-bottom of their national existence, in the wake of the gruesome death of the first-born of every household – the Egyptian people recognized the true face of their national enemy – and saw the truth about the Children of Israel.  In an effort to make amends, they showered Israel with gifts, asking for their forgiveness and mercy.

I like to fantasize that as the citizens of the world watch what the State of Israel and the IDF are doing to “save worlds” on an island far removed from the Middle East, that they are realizing the real character of Israel, the true calling of the IDF, and the heroic efforts of the State of Israel IN ALL SITUATIONS to preserve and save human life, to defend humanity everywhere.

Im tirzu, ein zo aggadah…….


4 Responses to “A Defense Force for Humanity”

  1. Henri Friday, January 22, 2010 at 12:28 am #

    From your mouth to God’s ear…THIS is the Israel I want the world to know. THIS is the Israel I want Jews to love. THIS is the Israel I want Israelis to be.

  2. Tanya Bodzin Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 4:32 pm #

    Please unsubscribe me. thanks

  3. Lisa Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    He spoke at AIPAC. The video is available at their website. It was very moving!

  4. Lisa Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Here’s the link to watch the video.

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