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Help to the Hurting
In the last two months, American Jews have responded with appropriate urgency to the call to support Israel in the wake of its war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.
For weeks, literally thousands of terrorist missiles rained down on northern Israeli cities, towns and villages. The resulting damage was devastating, physically and emotionally. So, too, was the impact on the nation's economy of having approximately one-quarter of its population spending the summer in air-raid shelters or being forced to evacuate south to safety.
The Israeli Emergency Fund campaign of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia was created to help the Jewish state deal with the enormous costs of the war. The local campaign, like those of other communities around the country, has been a success -- more than $11 million has already been raised to meet a goal of $15 million.
Nevertheless, in recent weeks, criticism has been leveled at the emergency-fund campaign by some who are angry about the fact that some of the funds raised are going to help Arab villages and towns in northern Israel, which also suffered from Hezbollah's indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets. These people say they want their money to go only to Jewish victims and municipalities, not to Arabs.
We understand the anger of some who are appalled at the anti-Zionist activities of many Israeli Arabs and their leaders, as well as the sympathy expressed by some in that sector for terrorists. But no such provocation would justify a discriminatory policy on the part of Israel's government or its American friends.
The fact is, any Israeli citizen or town that was hit by the terrorists needs and deserves our support. If we believe in Israeli democracy and its status as a nation where all of its citizens are to be treated fairly, then when we seek to aid it in its hour of need, we have to treat all of its people that way, too.
Though not all Israelis sacrifice in the same manner for its defense -- though it must be pointed that the Druze who live in the areas affected by the Hezbollah shelling in large numbers do serve in the Israel Defense Force -- everyone in the north was an equal target for the terrorists.
The emergency aid is going right where it ought to go: to all those individuals and communities inside Israel that were affected by terrorist attacks during the war, regardless of religion or ethnic identity. Anything less would be a betrayal not only of our humanitarian principles, but of our Zionist convictions as well.