Among both secular and believing circles, when Israel is discussed it is usually in relation to the conflict here with many questions raised about whether Israel is truly just or not. Many believe, from afar, that Israel is a horribly racist society, even an “apartheid” state. Even many believers and supporters of Israel have images of it being a dangerous, backwards nation, thanks to such a portrayal on the daily news. Few realize that Israel is actually not only quite advanced in technology, education and medicine, but is also one of the largest imparters of humanitarian aid to the developing world. This is in spite of having only become an independent nation, itself, a mere 65 years ago!
No other recently independent nation has been able to look beyond itself and give assistance worldwide in the way Israel has. Likely, this is due to the fact that other newer states are still struggling for their very existence. Furthermore, Israel is unique in that it does not just give money, which only places a patch over the problem, but has a history of teaching developing countries methods and technologies to become self-sustaining.
For example, in the past few years, Israel has provided extensive training and assistance in Africa. In Uganda, a Hebrew University professor helped solve a food crisis that was created when the British brought in a kind of fish called Nile perch, which had devoured the native fish species that lakeside communities lived off of (Azoulay, Yuval, Haaretz Online, February 5, 2010). By creating fishponds with native carp, researchers were able to save the livelihoods of many Ugandan villages. Israel also is known for sharing their extensive agricultural knowledge with nations in Africa affected by drought conditions, helping reduce these nations dependence on imports and encouraging further development (“Israel to Share Agricultural Know-How with Struggling African Farmers” Haaretz Online, April 26, 2010). Because of Israel’s strong reputation on the African continent, it was to Israel that Kenya turned to receive assistance in building solar technology (“Kenya Seeks Israel’s Help in Solar Energy” PanAfrican News Agency Daily Wire, September 29, 2003).
One of the most impressive feats that Israel has accomplished on the African continent is by playing a direct role in the building of the new state of South Sudan. The people of South Sudan were ravaged by the Islamic North Sudan for many years and Israel gave asylum to many Sudanese refugees. Israel maintained relations with many who were attempting to achieve independence for South Sudan before the state was formed. Once created, Israel was one of the first states to give South Sudan recognition (“Israel Recognizes South Sudan, Offers Economic Aid” Reuters, July 10, 2011) and then proceeded to meet with South Sudanese officials to see how Israel could help the South Sudanese diaspora to be ready to build a new state (“AJC Applauds Israel-South Sudan Diplomatic Ties” AJC.org, July 30, 2011). Israel is even teaching South Sudan cutting edge agricultural methods, such as drip irrigation, by creating a model farm in South Sudan. Israel plans to teach current asylum seekers skills to work on the future farm so that, upon repatriation, they can be on the forefront of building their nation and have crucial job skills (Klein Leichman, Abigail, Israel21c, October 3, 2012).
In addition to the sustainable development projects that Israel leads around the world, Israel is also known for providing emergency medical care and disaster assistance to many nations and foreign nationals. In the current civil war that is raging in Syria, Israel has provided medical care to several Syrian rebels, allowing them to receive life-saving care in Israeli hospitals (“Israel Repatriates 6 Syrians Treated for Wounds” The Jerusalem Post Online, February 27, 2013). Israel also recently provided critical medical care pro-bono for a Ugandan Christian pastor after Muslim extremists threw acid at him (Mougrabi-Kumani, Ziva, Israel Hayom Online, January 9, 2012).
Furthermore, in 2011, when relations with Turkey were at an all time low, Israel offered disaster assistance after an earthquake wreaked havoc in a part of the country (Keinon, Herb, The Jerusalem Post Online, October 25, 2011). This was actually the second time that Israel had provided such disaster relief in Turkey. In 1999, Israel became famous for having one of the largest disaster response units deployed after the horrendous earthquake in Turkey, which killed thousands (Kinzer, Stephen, The New York Times, August 28, 1999 and O’Sullivan, Arieh, JWeekly.com, August 20, 1999).
In other such disasters, Israel is often one of the first to respond. After the earthquake that devastated Haiti, Israel immediately sent a team of rescuers and doctors, saving many lives (“Israeli Aid to Haiti; Field Hospital Set Up” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 28 January 2010). Israelis also provided food, fuel and support for US rescue workers and hospitals in the wake of Hurricane Sandy (Klein Leichman, Abigail, Israel21c, November 8, 2012).
There are too many examples of the aid that Israel provides to mention them all, though you can see other examples at the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Humanitarian Aid website (http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Mashav+%E2%80%93+International+Development/What+is+Mashav/Israeli+Humanitarian+Relief-+MASHAV+-+the+Israel+F.htm) and another page by a non-profit organization regarding various humanitarian aid efforts of Israel (
http://www.israaid.co.il/about-us/activities-past-present/ ). You will notice that there are many nations on the list that are ignored to a great extent by the Western world, such as the Central African Republic and Darfur. It is likely that Israel is the only nation of its size and status to provide so much humanitarian aid around the world. This is all in spite of the fact that Israel is often denigrated in many Western nations and thought of as “colonialists” and “occupiers,” ironically by nations that have a horrible history of colonialism themselves and are also still oppressing people groups and “grabbing” land in areas of Africa (Pearce, Fred, Mail Online, 11 August, 2012).
In the end, it will be God who will judge the nations for both their oppression and for their righteousness. All nations on the Earth have committed atrocities and have also done good deeds, some more than others. However, Israel is made up of a people who have experienced atrocity only a generation ago and yet this newly independent nation is providing an incredible amount of aid to others! Hopefully this will continue, even as the world grows ever more critical of Israel. It would be wonderful to see Israel living out her calling to be a “light to the nations” increasingly each day (Isaiah 49:6).
Azoulay, Yuval. Haaretz Online “Israeli Prof Helps Solve Food Crisis Spawned By Nile Perch (February 5, 2010) http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israeli-prof-helps-solve-food-crisis-spawned-by-nile-perch-1.262813
“AJC Applauds Israel-South Sudan Diplomatic Ties” AJC.org (July 30, 2011) http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=2818295&ct=11071683¬oc=1
Keinon, Herb “Turkey Says Yes to Israeli Earthquake Aid” The Jerusalem Post Online (October 25, 2011). http://www.jpost.com/VideoArticles/Video/Article.aspx?id=243154
Kinzer, Stephen “Quake Relief Shows Israel Feels Deeply About Turkey” The New York Times (August 28, 1999) http://www.nytimes.com/1999/08/28/world/quake-relief-shows-israel-feels-deeply-for-turkey.html
Klein Leichman, Abigail. Israel21c “Israel to Build Model Farm in South Sudan” (October 3, 2012) http://israel21c.org/social-action-2/israel-to-build-model-farm-in-south-sudan/)
Klein Leichman, Abigail, Israel21c “Israelis Pitch in to Help After Hurricane Sandy” (November 8, 2012) http://israel21c.org/social-action-2/israelis-pitch-in-to-help-after-hurricane-sandy/
O’Sullivan, Arieh “Israel Rescue Team Aids Turkey Quake Victims” JWeekly.com (August 20, 1999) http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/11434/israel-rescue-team-aids-turkey-quake-victims/
“Israel to Share Agricultural Know-How with Struggling African Farmers” Haaretz Online (April 26, 2010) http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-to-share-agricultural-know-how-with-struggling-african-farmers-1.284919 ).
“Israel Repatriates 6 Syrians Treated for Wounds” The Jerusalem Post Online (February 27, 2013) http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=304696)
“Israeli Aid to Haiti; Field Hospital Set Up” Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (28 January, 2010) http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/HumanitarianAid/Worldwide/Israeli_aid_arrives_Haiti_17-Jan-2010.htm
“Kenya Seeks Israel’s Help in Solar Energy” PanAfrican News Agency Daily Wire (September 29, 2003) http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-24547033_ITM
“Israel Recognizes South Sudan, Offers Economic Aid” Reuters (July 10, 2011) http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/10/us-israel-sudan-south-idUSTRE7690PB20110710
Mougrabi-Kubani, Ziva “Ugandan Pastor Treated in Israel After Being Attacked by Muslim Extremists” Israel Hayom Online (January 9, 2012) http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=2577
Pearce, Fred “On the Trail of the Land Grabbers: The British Imperialists Snapping Up Swathes of Africa to Cash in on the World’s Food Shortage-and Forcing Out Small Farmers” Mail Online (11 August, 2012) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2186946/The-British-land-grabbers-snapping-swathes-African-farmland-cash-worlds-food-shortage.html