Tony Greenstein | 14 May 2015 | Post Views:

Israel’s disaster outreach does little to help its image

Spare a
thought for Israel’s propagandists.  It
costs a pretty penny to send those relief teams across the world.  Their purpose is more to rehabilitate Israel’s
image than relieve suffering.  After all
if they want to relieve suffering they could stop trying to start wars against
e.g. Iran and stop bombing Gaza.
Israeli aid – beware before you refuse

Palestinian child – a victim of Israel’s relief efforts
The problem is that most coverage of such
relief efforts by the mass media is concentrated on their own states and Israel
doesn’t get a look in.  So what can one

Praise oneself more and feel good it would
seem.  As Netanyahu puts it

Israel bombs Al Quds Hospital
“Israel is a small country with a big heart,” he said
Tuesday at a ceremony greeting the IDF delegation upon its return. “You showed
the true face of the State of Israel — a state that loves life and saves life.”
Israel setting up field hospital

Just you don’t
love it?  Israel a state that loves life
and saves life.  I suspect that’s not how
it is seen from Gaza or the West Bank, but then they’re just Palestinians, not
even human beings, beasts in fact.  But Israelis
have no doubts.  When they’re not
dropping phosphorous bombs on schools or cluster munitions they just love life,
all life, even non-Jewish life.

Pass the sick bag Alice!
Tony Greenstein
Netanyahu telling his army relief team how much Israel loves life (as long as it’s not Palestinian)
By all objective measures, the Israel Defense Forces’
efforts to provide relief to Nepal after a devastating earthquake last month
was impressive. Israel’s 250-plus humanitarian delegation to Katmandu, which
treated 1,600 injured and sick and assisted in more than half a dozen births,
was the second largest of any country that sent aid.
Israeli & Nepalese army
Providing emergency disaster relief has become something
of an Israeli tradition. Jerusalem sends help almost wherever and whenever calamities
: Rwanda, Haiti, Japan, the
Philippines and even Turkey and Egypt (in 2004, members of the IDF’s Medical
Corps and search and rescue teams rushed to Taba in the Sinai peninsula and
stayed for three days after several explosions killed and injured dozens,
including 13 Israelis).
Israel kills Palestinian baby
Each aid delegation that rushes out brings with it
accusations from critics of the Israeli government of “rubble-washing” — that
Israel is providing aid in far-flung areas, at least in part, to distract from human rights violations at home.
Others argue, though, that Israel, which has mastered
the art of emergency medicine, altruistically yearns to help those
in need
, simply because it’s the right thing
to do.
War plan for  Nepal – relief for Gaza
A look at recent disaster relief operations shows that
Israel could not have realistically expected any diplomatic dividends beyond
slightly improving its image through worldwide coverage of its field hospitals.
And that’s precisely how things have played out: A little bounce in Israel’s
standing, but no substantive benefit; just the satisfaction of doing the right
Palestinian child who didn’t obtain any relief
“If we’re sending aid to Haiti, the Philippines and
Nepal, we’re obviously not looking to reap great diplomatic benefits from these
countries, which I might be allowed to describe as not superpowers,” said a
former senior diplomat intimately familiar with Israel’s efforts to improve its
public relations, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the
Saving Nepalese woman
None of the countries that benefited from Israeli
disaster relief changed their voting pattern at the United Nations, or even
regional forums. And the Foreign Ministry did not instruct its ambassadors in
these countries to make aid contingent on political support in international
forums, nor even hinted at linking these issues, the former diplomat noted.
Palestinian child only just survives Israel’s humanitarian bombing
Israeli and Nepalese soldiers set up a field hospital in
Kathmandu on April 29, 2015 after a deadly earthquake struck the Nepalese
capital. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)
Palestinian child – can’t go to hospital because that was also bombed
It has been argued that Israel is nice to other
countries to present a friendly face to the world. One of the basic tenets of hasbara,
or pro-Israel advocacy, is the effort to portray Israel not as a country that
mistreats the Palestinians but one that seeks to repair the world and be a
light unto the nations.
Palestinian children – who wish they had been born in Nepal
But many states and organizations send aid to disaster
areas, and journalists care mostly about the tourists and volunteers from their
home countries. There are rare exceptions: the IDF’s field hospital in Haiti in
2010 aroused great international interest.
In Haiti, the Israelis were among the first foreigners
on the ground, treated more than 1,110 patients, and delivered 16 babies.
Israel’s efforts in Nepal this year were no less impressive, but failed to
garner the same interest.
Palestinian children need relief from Israel
‘Israel helps others, Iran doesn’t’
Even if Israel hasn’t reaped any obvious diplomatic
fruit from its relief missions, that doesn’t mean Jerusalem isn’t hoping to win
brownie points in the international arena.
There’s nothing wrong with helping others in their hour
of need and getting positive coverage of it, said Yigal Palmor, a former
spokesman at the Foreign Ministry. “If you do something good it’s not cynical
to expect favorable media coverage.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clearly relishes the
idea that his country excelled in providing Nepal with emergency aid — and that
others didn’t.
“Israel is a small country with a big heart,” he said
Tuesday at a ceremony greeting the IDF delegation upon its return. “You showed
the true face of the State of Israel — a state that loves life and saves life.”
Palestinian baby – died from Israel’s humanitarian bombing
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (center) seen during a
welcome ceremony for the IDF aid delegation that arrived back from Nepal at Ben
Gurion Airport, May 12, 2015. (photo credit: Haim Zach/GPO)
The prime minister then used to occasion to take a swipe
at the Jewish state’s arch-enemy.
“Did anyone see the Iranian delegation in Nepal?” he
asked rhetorically. “The Iranians send delegations to countries in the region
and around the world not to save lives, but to sow death, ruin and terror, and
this is the difference between enlightened democracies and dark regimes based
on fanaticism and terror.”
Israel bombs the Al Quds Hospital
The Iranians did in fact send financial and humanitarian
Two weeks ago, at a press conference in the
Foreign Ministry’s situation room, then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman
suggested Israel’s efforts in Nepal were not only motivated by a moral
imperative to help.
Rather, helping other countries in need is “the most
effective kind of diplomacy,” he said. “In crafting a country’s image, nothing
is more effective than providing aid.”
Indeed, member states of the Organization for Economic
Co-operation and Development are expected to spend a certain percentage of
their GDPs on foreign aid, and Israel’s spending is far lower than the OECD
standard, Liberman acknowledged. “Like all advanced countries, it’s our duty to
help others who suffer from natural disaster. We always came to help, whether
it was in Haiti, Japan or Turkey.”
Israelis twice rushed to Turkey after severe earthquakes
hit the country: in 1999 and in 2011. Ties between the Jerusalem and Ankara had
their ups and downs over the years, but it would hard to argue that Israeli
disaster aid had any significant beneficial impact on the bilateral
Similarly, Israel in 1988 sent a rescue mission to
Armenia after an earthquake, but ties have not improved as a result. Frosty
relations between Jerusalem and Yerevan stem partially from Israel’s refusal to
recognize the Armenian genocide, and Israel’s aid did nothing to thaw bilateral
Israel’s economic ties with Japan — where the IDF
treated 202 patients in an advanced medical clinic after a March 2011
earthquake — improved in recent years, but this is likely attributable to
Netanyahu’s concerted pivot east.
Israel’s help during the quake temporarily improved its
public standing there, especially in the immediate aftermath of the
catastrophe, but by and large Israel’s image in Japan, and Tokyo’s voting
pattern at the UN, remained the same, experts say.
‘Even if there is any diplomatic dividend to what we’re
doing, it is marginal’
Another argument supporting the claim that Israel acts
altruistically in helping others is the assistance afforded to Syrians who fall
victim to the ongoing civil war. Initially, Israel didn’t even publicize the
fact that it was treating Syrians in its hospitals and elsewhere.
“Even if there is any diplomatic dividend to what we’re
doing, it is marginal,” said Palmor. “We still need to do it, simply because
it’s the right thing to do. We have the tools to help and we like to help.”
Israel, of course, doesn’t only reach out to other countries
when emergency strikes.
Through the Foreign Ministry’s Mashav (a Hebrew acronym
meaning Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation), the Jewish
state has been assisting countries the world over with countless development
projects since 1957.
“For Israel,” David Ben-Gurion, the country’s first
prime minister, once said, “development cooperation is both a moral and a
political issue, and from both aspects Israel must look upon such aid as a
historic mission.”
Helping others is a moral imperative and in some cases
Israel can get something in return for its kindness — and there’s nothing wrong
with that, according to Dan Meridor, a former MK, minister and deputy prime
minister who today serves as president for the Israel Council on Foreign
“I think we should do it based on both values and
interest basis,” Meridor said. “That’s not always a contradiction. Sometimes
it’s not possible to marry interest and values but if you can, this is the best

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