AIPAC is great because it is a way to get involved with Israel and Israeli issues while making an impact in America. It can show us how to get involved, enlighten us as to policy and as to the many different issues that Israel faces today. However, it can also serve as a window into Israeli culture, policy, and government that is difficult to find elsewhere. By attending a variety of specialized lectures and discussions about a range of topics with relevant experts, the uninformed are exposed to ideas and machinations that would have previously been left untapped. During this 2017 AIPAC Conference, I went to a lecture titled “The Israeli Ethos.” On the panel selected for this session, an ambassador, a military official, several doctors, and business leaders were gathered to speak about one central topic: Israel in the context of international aid and healthcare.
Most of international attention is focused on the conflict and violence surrounding the country, but this seminar focused on a field in which Israel is not only surprisingly adept, but is one of the international leaders. Israeli field hospitals are some of the best in the world, and the Israeli international aid agency, Moshav, is often one of the first forces deployed after an international incident. These teams deploy to 140 countries, even those that Israel has no diplomatic ties with. Israel is well known in international aid committees, and in the areas that Moshav frequents, but most Americans, as well as many Israelis, have no idea of the scope of Israel's aid or the exceptional skill in which aid is administered.
The Israeli aid agency was established in 1957, four years before the United States founded their own aid agency, and seven years before the UK founded their agency. Israel has risen to infamy among this select community despite the size of their own country and resources by maintaining a focus on providing the best care possible to people in need. As one official described it, “We focused on stopping preventable deaths.” To elaborate, there are usually three types of patients that these field hospitals encounter: those with mild injuries, those with injuries so severe they are beyond help, and those with dangerous but treatable injuries. The first group will survive with only the most basic of care, while there is nothing that can be done for the second group. However, as it was described in this presentation, the third group is the one which depends on skilled medical care, the group which will be helped the most by intervention. In focusing on this group, Israel decreased human error and increased the quality of aid rendered. The skill level of Moshav is such that it has been recognized by both the UN and the EU as being “top tier,” despite the attitudes of both organizations towards Israel politically.
Learning about the unpublicized work that Israel does has been a gateway to a better understanding of the society and culture, and learning about Moshav as well as other humanitarian projects fostered not only a better understanding, but also a great pride for a nation that can extend a helping hand in the face of discrimination. This panel was fascinating as it explored the presence of tikkun olam in modern Israel.