Since Israel responded quickly to the Haiti earthquake with a major relief effort, including a field hospital that trumps all other medical services in the devastated country, it has received widespread, unalloyed recognition and praise from mainstream media in the U.S. and abroad. ABC News, NBC news, CNN, Fox News, just to mention a few, along with many foreign media, have given extensive, favorable coverage to the life-saving efforts of Israeli doctors and nurses operating with cutting-edge skills and resources.
But NOT in the New York Times.
In its Jan. 22 edition, the Times carries an article by Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner that manages to rain on Israel's parade of rare media salutes for its display of genuine humanitarian caring half way around the world ("For Israelis, Mixed Feelings on Aid Effort -- Questions arise about image and the national character" page A11.) As far as Bronner is concerned, Israel's life-saving marvels in Haiti are just a mixed bag -- with at least as many minuses as pluses.
Bronner starts by acknowledging that Israel has demonstrated that it is "one of the mst nimble countries in disaster relief" -- recognized as such by Western television news correspondents.
But he immediately balances this with a hefty dose of negativism -- quoting several Israeli leftists who fault the Haiti relief effort by asking why Israel can't be as generous to Palestinians in Gaza -- "the left has complained that there is no reason to travel thousands of miles to help those in need -- Gaza is an hour away."
And Bronner continues with his pejorative coverage by writing that Israel's government is trying to figure out "how to make the most of the relatively rare positive news coverage, especially after the severe criticism it has faced over its Gaza offensive a year ago."
Bronner, with his pluses-minuses balancing act, cites a Jerusalem Post commentator's assessment that the Haiti relief project shows that "the Jewish people demonstrated that their extended hand can bridge any gap and traverse any chasm when it comes to saving lives."
But just as quickly, Bronner neuters this kudo with a quote from another commentator, Larry Derfner, who wrote that "it's the Haiti side of Israel that makes the Gaza side so inexpressibly tragic. And more and more, the Haiti part of the national character has been dwarfed by the Gaza part."
Well, you get the picture, as sketched by Bronner -- anythng good done by Israel in Haiti is neutered, erased by what it's doing to the people in Gaza.
Except, the Haiti-Gaza contrast fails on two counts:
1. The devastation and suffering in Haiti are due to a natural disaster; while the plight of Gazans is due entirely to human factors -- i.e. the terror war waged by Hamas and Islamic Jihad against Israel with a decade-long barrage of thousands of rocket and mortar rounds against Israeli civilian populations. Bronner doesn't bring himself to point out this obvious and telling difference between these two calamities. Likening Haiti to Gaza is a totally irrelevant apples-and-oranges ploy.
2. Even with the Israeli-Palestinian economic blockade of Gaza, Israel sends about 100 truckloads daily into Gaza, carrying food, medicines and other basic necessities. Plus it provides sufficient diesel fuel to meet Gaza's needs. Plus it has admitted hundreds of injured and sick Gazans into Israel where they receive the same dedicated, advanced medical care that Haitians receive in Israel's field hospital at Port-au-Prince. Again, while Bronner gleefully quotes slanderous allegations about Israel's lack of humanitarian zeal, he omits any mention of the vast extent of humanitarian aid that is pouring into Gaza from Israel every day.
While Bronner relies on a few Israelis spouting a leftist-chic line against their country, he doesn't have the grace to quote the simple, short comment of Prime Minister Netanyahu that Israel, with its Haiti operation, shows "it's a small country with a big heart."
And the same can be said of Israel in regard to Gaza, when taking into account the unremitting terror war waged against it from Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Both Haiti AND Gaza demonstrate that Israel indeed has a "big heart." No other country in the world, given the same provocations and rocket barrages, would treat its enemy as kindly as Israel has in responding to Hamas's war making from Gaza.
Bronner's Haiti-Gaza contrast doesn't hold water.