Clash of civilizations in Haiti

Leo Rennert
Since last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti, many countries have spared no effort or resources to dispatch planeloads of rescue teams, food, water, medicines and other badly needed aid to this stricken country.   With the notable exception of the Arab world, especially oil-rich Arab nations, which have chosen either to remain on the sidelines or contented themselves with what can only be described as niggardly gestures or measly contributions.

Saudi Arabia, brimming with trillions in oil revenues, sent a letter of condolences to Haitian President Rene Preval.  Oil-rich Kuwait chipped in $1 million, as did Morocco.  Qatar, with the third largest gas reserves in the world, managed to scrape together only a 50-ton aid package.  The United Arab Emirates, noted for its conspicuous oil wealth, promised to "shortly" send a planeload of humanitarian assistance.

Now, contrast this picture of Arab frugality in the face of a human catastrophe of biblical dimensions with Israel's far more generous and warmhearted response.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the Israeli Home Command dispatched two planeloads with 220 aid-and-rescue personnel and a full-fledged field hospital capable of treating 500 patients a day. It's the most modern medical facility in Haiti today.  Staffed by 40 doctors, the hospital is equipped with a medical lab, a pharmacy, an X-ray center, a children's ward, an emergency room, a surgical department, two operating rooms, and a maternity ward.

In short order, Israeli doctors performed 25 life-saving surgeries and assisted in the births of three babies, including one baby boy whose grateful mother decided to call him "Israel."  The first couple of planes from Israel brought tons of medicines and other supplies.  A third planeload followed over the weekend.

In addition to all this assistance from Israel's Home Front Command, Israeli volunteer groups -- some pouring in from Mexico, others from the Dominical Republic -- spontaneously pitched in.  ZAKA, a highly skilled volunteer group tested and proficient in search-and-rescue operations, worked continuously over 38 hours to rescue eight students from a collapsed building at Haiti University.

Another Israeli organization, IsraAID, sent a planeload of food and equipment to supplement the overall Israeli effort.

It was a compelling demonstration of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aptly described as the natural reflex of a "small country with a big heart."

By comparison,  Arab countries basking in massive oil wealth, either did nothing or, when measured against their financial capacities, limited themseleves to a pitifully few measly gestures.

One gets a picture of a very large arc of ultra-rich Arab countries -- with no heart at all.

As if further proof were needed that there is indeed a clash of civilizations -- especially in the Middle East.
Since last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti, many countries have spared no effort or resources to dispatch planeloads of rescue teams, food, water, medicines and other badly needed aid to this stricken country.   With the notable exception of the Arab world, especially oil-rich Arab nations, which have chosen either to remain on the sidelines or contented themselves with what can only be described as niggardly gestures or measly contributions.

Saudi Arabia, brimming with trillions in oil revenues, sent a letter of condolences to Haitian President Rene Preval.  Oil-rich Kuwait chipped in $1 million, as did Morocco.  Qatar, with the third largest gas reserves in the world, managed to scrape together only a 50-ton aid package.  The United Arab Emirates, noted for its conspicuous oil wealth, promised to "shortly" send a planeload of humanitarian assistance.

Now, contrast this picture of Arab frugality in the face of a human catastrophe of biblical dimensions with Israel's far more generous and warmhearted response.

In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the Israeli Home Command dispatched two planeloads with 220 aid-and-rescue personnel and a full-fledged field hospital capable of treating 500 patients a day. It's the most modern medical facility in Haiti today.  Staffed by 40 doctors, the hospital is equipped with a medical lab, a pharmacy, an X-ray center, a children's ward, an emergency room, a surgical department, two operating rooms, and a maternity ward.

In short order, Israeli doctors performed 25 life-saving surgeries and assisted in the births of three babies, including one baby boy whose grateful mother decided to call him "Israel."  The first couple of planes from Israel brought tons of medicines and other supplies.  A third planeload followed over the weekend.

In addition to all this assistance from Israel's Home Front Command, Israeli volunteer groups -- some pouring in from Mexico, others from the Dominical Republic -- spontaneously pitched in.  ZAKA, a highly skilled volunteer group tested and proficient in search-and-rescue operations, worked continuously over 38 hours to rescue eight students from a collapsed building at Haiti University.

Another Israeli organization, IsraAID, sent a planeload of food and equipment to supplement the overall Israeli effort.

It was a compelling demonstration of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aptly described as the natural reflex of a "small country with a big heart."

By comparison,  Arab countries basking in massive oil wealth, either did nothing or, when measured against their financial capacities, limited themseleves to a pitifully few measly gestures.

One gets a picture of a very large arc of ultra-rich Arab countries -- with no heart at all.

As if further proof were needed that there is indeed a clash of civilizations -- especially in the Middle East.