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Reserve force
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Reserve force

The tragic fires in the North have shown that Israel is vulnerable to natural disasters in addition to attack from its enemies. Some of those enemies have already suggested that starting forest fires would be a good way to attack, and articles in the Jerusalem Post have recognized the next round of hostilities could result in numerous civilian casualties as well as damage to infrastructure and agriculture.

It is important to understand that while Israel lacks what might be called strategic depth, Jewish people in the Diaspora can provide that depth because we are not located in Israel. While we try to give money to various causes in Israel when asked, some of us are more wealthy in skills and the desire to help than in material possessions. We could constitute a valuable resource for Israel in times of danger.

What I am suggesting is a Jewish reserve force for public service that could be trained and administered in the countries of the Diaspora to respond to disasters in Israel when needed. The recent fires in the North provide a good example. A reserve force of volunteer firefighters in New York or New Jersey, for example, could go through periodic training for emergencies by American or Israeli experts. They could even get experience by being utilized to help in local situations at home, like the American National Guard, but without the military function. They would be a complete unit ready to transfer to Israel and go work upon activation. In addition to firefighting, units could be trained to support hospital personnel as orderlies and in supplemental patient care, as emergency responders, to replant forests and to assist in agriculture and infrastructure repair. The units could train at Jewish-run charities in their home areas with possible periodic training in Israel and be deployed to Israel if and when needed. Such volunteers would understand that upon deployment they would be working in difficult conditions with limited personal comforts. They could even be expected to pay for their own transportation.

You might ask whether comfortable American Jews would be willing to commit to such an obligation. Speaking for myself, and I am sure for many others, it would be an honor and a privilege.

Michael Gewirtz
New York, NY

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