Do not stand by the blood of your fellow.Â — Leviticus 19:16
We know that the people of Haiti are suffering greatly in the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake last week that devastated their impoverished country. There is something that AJW readers can do in the face of this immense human tragedy: donate money to the relief efforts.
Eighteen Jewish organizations have formed the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief to respond to this large-scale humanitarian emergency. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), one of the most esteemed relief groups in the world, is coordinating the Jewish Coalition For Haiti Relief. You can donate by phone at 212-687-6200. Checks can be mailed, payable to: JDC Coalition – Haiti Earthquake Relief, and sent to P.O. Box 530, 132 E. 43rd St., New York, NY 10017.
Donations also can be made online (which takes about one minute) at: www.jdc.org/jcdr_main.html.
Amid the miraculous rescues of survivors, thousands of Haitians await medical care for injuries suffered in the quake, as well as drinking water and food. On the medical front, as the AJW goes to print this week, Israel has established the only fully staffed and equipped mobile field hospital in Port-au-Prince.
- After an eight-hour effort, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) rescue team pulled a Haitian man alive out of the rubble on Sunday. (Photo: Courtesy of IDF)
“The Israeli field hospital is phenomenal,” Dr. Richard Besser of ABC News toldÂ Good Morning America, as reported by JTA. “They were up and running on Saturday morning, way ahead of the United States hospital.”
(I am at a complete loss to understand why Israel, rather than the United States, was the first nation to set up a functioning medical facility in Haiti’s capital. Perhaps by the time you read this, the U.S. will have set up a field hospital.)
In any case, news outlets report that patients requiring surgery are being transferred to the Israeli field hospital. Ynetnews.com, the Web site of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, reported on Monday that other field hospitals in Port-au-Prince “contain no more than stretcher beds and medical teams who administer first aid, and they are not prepared for complex surgery.” The Israeli doctors have delivered at least one baby; according to our JTA story this week, the Haitian mother named her son Israel.
In the midst of the tragedy in Haiti, some individuals have put forth astoundingly callous arguments about the underlying causes of the tragedy unfolding and the efforts now to help the long-suffering Haitians. Pat Robertson, an evangelist prone to offering far-fetched theological explanations for worldly events (he blamed Planned Parenthood and the ACLU for the 9/11 attacks), opined that the Haitians “swore a pact to the devil” in order to free themselves from the French colonial regime. Robertson concludes that the Haitians have been “cursed” ever since that event; but he offers no analysis of how colonization by the French and then the United States robbed Haiti of its resources and created the grinding poverty and indebtedness that continues to afflict the Caribbean nation.
Worse than Robertson’s benighted comments, if you can believe it, were those of Rush Limbaugh. The right-wing talk-jock spun the disaster in Haiti as “another crisis simply too good to waste” by the Obama adminstration: “This will play right into Obama’s hands. He’s humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to burnish their, shall we say, ‘credibility’ with the black community — in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It’s made-to-order for them.”
Limbaugh’s commentary gives political opportunism a bad name, as they say. And while most Americans are affected emotionally by the scenes of human suffering beamed back from Haiti, Limbaugh counsels against donating to the relief efforts: “We’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.”
Thankfully, there has been a compassionate response to the tragedy in Haiti. Relief efforts are ramping up, one week after the country was shaken apart. Five years after Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, there are still unmet needs among those who suffered; it remains to be seen how long-lived and thorough will be the response in Haiti.
The response to Haiti will be a “test of our compassion. It is a test of our resolve. And it is also a test of our ability to coordinate our actions together,” British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Tuesday, according to the BBC.
Again, you can donate money to help the Haitians in this critical time.
— Mordecai Specktor / firstname.lastname@example.org