Seize the opportunity

Seize the opportunity

The Jewish world has taken great pride this past week over the response to the earthquake in Haiti by Israel, as well it should.
Israel was the first on the ground with a state-of-the-art hospital. Its ZAKA rescue team was in Port-au-Prince approximately 48 hours after the quake and rescued eight students from the ruins of a university building. And Israel’s ambassador to the neighboring Dominican Republic visited the ravaged nation to assess the situation.
For a small country from literally halfway around the world to be on the ground in a Caribbean nation where virtually no Jews live, caring for people because it’s simply the right thing to do, long before the United Sates and other Western powers are fully organized — now that’s quite a feat.
At a time when Israel is the punching bag of world opinion — unjustly — it was a welcome change to have the world media focused on some positive news about the Jewish state.
But at the same time the Haitian experience is making world Jewry proud, we need to channel that pride into action.
Too often these days the Jewish world is on the defensive when it makes the case for Israel. The anti-Israel lobby is very organized, well funded and highly effective in demonizing Jews. Finally, here is a rare opportunity to control the message.
It’s hard for the anti-Israel lobby to claim Israel cares little about anyone but its own people or that it’s insensitive to the needs of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza (it’s not) when the air waves are filled with scenes of Israeli physicians and nurses saving lives and delivering babies in a country with which it has no real connection.
Let’s hope the organized Jewish world, such as The Israel Project and AIPAC, seize the moment to make Israel’s case in a positive light for a change.