“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Gen. 12:2). Join us as we consider several ways in which we can see that the Lord’s promise to Abraham and his descendants is being partially fulfilled in our world today.
Philippines 2013: On November 2, 2013 meteorologists began watching a broad low-pressure area in the Pacific. During the next several days it would gain strength and receive the name “Haiyan,” becoming a super-typhoon with the highest ever recorded wind speeds at landfall. Before the storm dissipated on November 11, the nation of the Philippines had borne the brunt of its fury with 5,995 confirmed dead and unofficial damage estimates of US $5.8 billion. The tragedy received world-wide attention, and over the weeks after the storm ended many responded to the needs of the people in the Philippines. But one of the first on the ground, flying 12 hours over a distance of 6,000 miles (9,656 km), was the 148-member delegation from the nation of Israel.
Their mission was to set up a field hospital in Bogo City, one of the hardest-hit areas in the Philippine province of Cebu. Doctors, nurses, lab technicians and search and rescue workers spent the next twelve days in Cebu province, providing medical assistance, repairing school buildings and encouraging those who had endured the super-typhoon. In the words of Israeli officer Lt. Libby Weiss, “the overall feeling here is one of persistence and commitment to a cause—to do whatever is needed to help the people in need” (from the IDF website). Before their return to Israel, they had seen 2,686 patients, performed 60 surgeries, treated 848 children, delivered and cared for 36 babies, the first one of whom was named “Israel.”
From Israel’s Founding: The nation of the Philippines and victims of Typhoon “Haiyan” are only the latest in a long history of those who have received help from the nation of Israel. A tiny country with a big heart, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs website notes: “Within a decade of Israel’s founding, the government and its people demonstrated a deep commitment to engage in humanitarian relief efforts and international development programs. In 1958, Israel adopted an official humanitarian aid agenda as a principal element of the country’s international cooperation efforts. Over the years, the country has extended international humanitarian aid assistance to more than 140 countries, even to those who do not maintain diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.”
In reviewing the list of places where Israel has provided medical assistance, it is clear that there is no distinction made between friend and foe. Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, gratefully accepted aid in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans (USA) in 2005, Israel sent aid in the form of supplies as well as a small team of divers to help with body recovery.
Placing the needs of others above their own, dedicated Israelis have gone to the four corners of the earth in order to provide help in time of need. In visible and practical ways, they are demonstrating the Lord’s commandment that “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).
A Palestinian father from the West Bank anxiously watches over his ailing infant daughter. She was born with a severe heart condition and is awaiting surgery at the Wolfson Medical Center in Israel. Her tiny body is taped with tubes, her head enclosed in an oxygen tent, but her parents are confident that surgery by Israeli doctors will save her life. Her father says that the strife between Palestinians and Israelis depicted on television doesn’t exist here in the hospital. Israelis and Palestinians are brothers and help one another.
Another ailing infant, Haran from Iraq was born with a big hole between the two ventricles of her heart. She was diagnosed by an Israeli doctor in Jordan and transferred to an Israeli hospital for surgery, with the help of Save a Child’s Heart, an Israeli organization specializing in pediatric cardiac surgery. Bringing the child to Israel for treatment was the only way to save her life. She is now a healthy child with a normal, healthy heart—one of over 1,700 children from 28 countries to receive free treatment in Israel for severe heart conditions.
In 2012, over 210,000 Palestinian citizens received treatment in Israeli hospitals. This was in spite of continuing hostilities from Gaza and the West Bank aimed at Israel. It’s rare to hear about gestures of friendship and cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian population, as well as Israel’s neighboring Arab states. But that kind of collaboration is happening more often than we may think, especially in the medical field.
Outside of politics, the Israeli medical community has established special relationships with doctors from Jordan and Egypt over the years, collaborating on training, medical conferences and the sharing of cutting-edge technology. Israel also has established medical ties with nations such as Lebanon and Saudi Arabia who don’t currently have peace treaties with her and would normally be considered “enemy states.” Over the years, many Arab citizens from these countries have received vital medical treatment from Israeli doctors.
Medical personnel from Tanzania, Ethiopia and Georgia are receiving training in Israeli hospitals. Doctors from the Palestinian Authority are also presently being trained at Hadassah Hospital, enabling them to treat patients with critical illnesses at hospitals in the Palestinian communities.
Israeli hospitals are currently treating children from Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Ethiopia, Kenya, Romania and China through the Save a Child’s Heart program. Hundreds of patients from Syria, children and adult victims of the brutal civil war, have been spirited across the border by the Israeli military to receive medical treatment from hospitals in Israel’s north. Syria is one of Israel’s fiercest enemies, its enmity deeply-rooted in centuries of hatred, but Israel is determined to save lives regardless of who the patients are. There is an enduring Jewish belief at work in this mindset: “Whoever saves one life has saved the whole world.”
As one Israeli doctor remarked: “We don’t care about your color; we don’t care about your religion; we don’t care about your financial status. If you need our help, we are here to do that.”
The Urban Dictionary defines “go-to” as an adjective used to indicate the best or most appropriate person to be contacted for a specific reason or purpose. How did Israel become a “go-to” nation for many in the business world today? In 2009, Dan Senor and Saul Singer published a book called Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle. The book provides an in-depth analysis of how Israel—while fighting numerous wars for its very survival and absorbing Jewish refugees from all over the globe—came to represent “the greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today” (Start-up Nation).
Israel is a tiny country—263 mi (423.3 km) long with a width of between 9 mi (14.5 km) and 71 mi (114.3 km). To compare its size with that of other nations, you could fit 459 “Israels” into Europe, 90 into Saudi Arabia or 76 into Iran. The Jewish people make up less than 0.2% of the world’s population and only about half of them live in Israel. Yet, for its size and population Israel has made a significant place for itself in the global business world. We’re going to look at several examples.
Impressive Business Incubator
Tel Aviv has been nicknamed “Silicon Wadi” (Arabic for “valley”) and in the world of high-tech is considered second only to Silicon Valley in California. Without a doubt, Israel is a global leader in the area of innovative, new ideas—thinking outside the box. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Ben Rooney wrote, “Just when you think you have seen everything, along comes something even more impressive, such as a startup with a nanotechnology that has the potential to disrupt everything from batteries to display screens to semiconductors.”
Israel has long been the R&D (research and development) center for well-known global corporations like Intel, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. Over the years, many products developed here have revolutionized the computing industry and continue to make an impact. When Israelis combine technology with medicine, the results are creative healthcare solutions in the area of diagnostics, as well as practical tools to improve the quality of life for the visually, physically and mentally challenged.
Another area where Israel shines is with inventive, new applications for mobile telephones. Recently Facebook and Google each acquired an Israeli company with specific mobile applications—Waze, a community-based traffic and navigation app (Google) and Onavo, an application that helps manage smartphone data usage and also contains an analytic component which shows how people actually use their apps (Facebook).
Teaching and Equipping
Not content solely to “go to” Israel for acquisition or investment purposes, some leaders have been asking if Israel’s unique business environment can be replicated in their own nations. An interesting response to this question is “Start Tel Aviv”—an annual global competition offering CEOs or founding members of a start-up company the opportunity to spend five days in Tel Aviv where they will experience the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for themselves. The hope is that these young business leaders will take their experience and the new ideas they have encountered back to their own countries to have an impact in the business arenas there. Once again, Israel—the “go-to” nation!
Vaughan, Ontario (Canada) is a fast-growing city north of Toronto that recently opened a Tel Aviv development office. A press release from the city’s website stated: “The City of Vaughan is leading an innovative business mission to Israel that includes 23 participants representing 21 different companies.
“Israel is an economy that is transforming itself and pursuing excellence in the same way that the City of Vaughan is pursuing excellence by creating opportunities for growth and expansion. The ultimate goal is economic growth which will improve our standard of living and quality of life,” said Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua. “This business mission to Israel shows our commitment to developing foreign markets and will allow us to build strategic relationships with leading Israeli companies.”
The Canadian delegation met with government officials, as well as having over 150 one-on-one meetings with Israeli companies and participating in a networking forum in Jerusalem. In addition to business collaboration, the field of education was another area of interest for the delegation. “One of the areas of cooperation will be based on Israel’s experience in integrating immigrant and disadvantaged populations into institutions of higher learning,” according to Centennial’s (College) CFO and Vice President for Development, Brad Chapman. “We have lots of new immigrants, just as Israel does, and we need to learn how to absorb them and make them successful” (Israel21c, “Canadian City Opens Tel Aviv Development Office”).
We have just touched highlights in this short series of articles. It is clear to see that among the nations of the world, Israel is distinctive and different. Although Israeli entrepreneurs, medical personnel and rescue workers may or may not choose to acknowledge Him, the role of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is undeniably evident. As He promised Abraham, He is making the nation of Israel, His chosen people, a blessing to all the families of the earth.
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