IDF Comes to the Aid of Syrian Civilians
By Richard Friedman,
BJF Executive Director
There was a powerful story on the Israeli news site Ynet that attests to Israel’s unique ethic and compassion. The story highlighted testimonies from anonymous Syrian civilians who have received free medical care at Israeli field hospitals. These hospitals provide aid to civilians whose lives have been disrupted by the ongoing war in Syria.
Citing one in a series of examples, the story reported, “After the Israel Defense Forces treated her son, one woman wrote a letter of appreciation to Israel lamenting the ‘tragic situation in Syria’ and expressing her yearning for peace and the prevention of further bloodshed.”
“Syria was the most beautiful country of all Arab countries. We thought that Israel was our enemy, but we realized that it’s good to us. I want to thank the hospitals in Israel and the Israeli army for all its help to the … Syrian children,” she wrote.
Wrote another Syrian: “After years of thinking that Israel was the enemy that needs to be gotten rid of, (after thinking) that you need to return the Syrian territories (Golan Heights) I am grateful to you for your treatment and especially to the Israeli army for its humanitarianism.”
The Ynet story, which includes other anonymous statements, is powerful and worth reading. Israel is a tiny democracy and key US ally plagued by enemies, such as Syria, which has sought its destruction for decades.
The Israelis, who’ve endured war, terror and diplomatic isolation ever since Israel’s rebirth as a modern nation in 1948, have every right to be jaded and immune to the suffering of their enemies. Yet, Israel is dedicated to a dream — to be a light unto the nations — and a belief in the importance of extending an outstretched hand to those in need.
The Birmingham Jewish Federation stands with Israel every single day. It is an imperfect country for sure, just like our own, facing complicated dilemmas. Nonetheless, it is a country with a heart that everyday responds to the famous challenge that Rabbi Hillel posed nearly 2000 years ago: “If I am only for myself, who am I?”