Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What Doesn't Make the News

Elie dropped me off this morning to catch the train. He was going to run an errand, park the car and catch the train as well to come to work. Two hours later, he still wasn't here and so I called him. He told me he would call me back...strange...

He called a while later to say he'd be here soon...

What didn't make the news today was that a short time ago, in a school for Arab girls, a platform collapsed, injuring somewhere between 15-20 Arab girls. Elie was across the street, just pulling into the parking lot of the train station when he saw the first ambulance drive in, and heard many sirens approaching.

He grabbed his first responder vest from the car and ran to the first ambulance driver to arrive. He immediately identified himself and offered to help. This is how it works in Israel. Like Elie, this other man was an Orthodox Jew. Neither hesitated to go inside an Arab school to help Arab children. The service they gave, the aid they brought was professional, prompt...Israel.

On scene, they found that one girl was complaining about her back and would need to be moved very gently. Unfortunately, the people on the scene had already moved the children away from the platform, risking further injury. Elie and the driver carefully securer her to a board for transportation to the hospital. Several others girls had hurt their legs as the platform collapsed. They picked the three worst and transported them, as nearly 10 other ambulances and their drivers arrived to lend a hand.

First on the scene...first off the scene...Elie and the first driver loaded the first ambulance with the four girls. The uncle of one of the girls was there. He was needed because although these were all "Israeli Arabs" - meaning they are full citizens of the State of Israel, with all rights and privileges, these girls have been raised to speak only Arabic and were therefore unable to communicate with most Israelis.

"English? Hebrew?" Elie asked. Nothing. No common language; no ability to communicate.

Luckily, the uncle was able to speak Hebrew and went along as translator. The school had prepared a list of the injured girls - in Arabic. He took that, asked the girls their names, and circled the lines that matched these girls.

When they arrived, the uncle translated these names for the hospital. As is typical in Israeli hospitals, upon admission, the admissions office generates a large number of labels with name, ID number, date, etc. These are usually affixed to each page generated during treatment. Today, they put one label on each girl so that Israeli doctors and nurses could identify their patients. I have no doubt Arabic speaking doctors and/or nurses were quickly called in to assist in communicating with these and others that were likely brought in by the other ambulances.

Israeli doctors checked them over; Israeli nurses assisted; Israeli medical equipment was used to x-ray and check them over.

Elie returned to the parking lot and caught the train...several hours late. I've checked the news...nothing. What Elie did this morning will be lost by this evening - the amazing dedication of the volunteers, the ambulance drivers, the doctors and nurses  - all taken for granted. Don't brag about what should be a common place incident.

This is a scene that repeats itself countless times every day in Israel. The Israeli medical responders are well trained and offer their time and knowledge readily and quickly. From here to Haiti to Jew, to Christian, to Arab.

It doesn't make the news and yes, I understand in the United States, no one would think to record that today fireman saved a Chinese family, that ambulance drivers rushed to assist a Black family, that doctors and nurses struggled to save the lives of a Latino child. It would not be reported in most European countries either. So why is it right that we document this?

Simple - we are at war with the Arabs...even, to our sorrow, with many of the Arabs that live within our borders, and even some that carry Israeli ID cards. Outside my office window at this moment, is Halal...he greets me every morning, we speak of his work and his family. He listens while I complain about the horrible way this building is maintained and I thank you daily for doing what he can to make it nicer. This is the way it should be...but it isn't the way it is.

In the midst of war, a Jew cannot safely walk into most Arab neighborhoods. It's hit or miss whether the Jew will walk out unharmed. Two days ago, firefighters rushed to put out a fire in a building...and were bombarded with rocks. The trains travel through Arab neighborhoods and are stoned on almost a daily basis. In a normal world, people don't throw stones at firetrucks, ambulances and passenger trains - most especially, firetrucks that come to their neighborhood to help, ambulances that are helping their neighbors, and trains that they use daily to get to work, medical treatment, etc.

Without hesitation, once again, my son walked into a situation where he was surrounded by Arabs (yes, Arab girls, but also their parents and school workers and others). It isn't fair to brush this off as normal in a place where normal is so different than other places. How many Arab countries flew rescue workers to help in Nepal?

One hundred percent of the first responders that ran into that school to help those Arab girls were Jewish and they didn't hesitate.


Batya Medad said...

Important post. Send it out.

Batya Medad said...

This post appears on  Jerusalem Day Havel Havelim. Please visit the long-running Jewish blog carnival and check out the other blogs included.

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