(posted on August 30th 2017, by Aboud Dandachi)
NPR published a report on Just Beyound our Border, a remarkable Israeli civilian aid group that has to date collected over half a million dollars worth of aid and donations for Syrian victims of the conflict there, and which has proven itself more effective than the far better funded UN aid initiatives inside Syria.
Staffed by Israeli civilian volunteers, the group has collected donations from Israelis donors and American Jewish organizations, which are then used to purchase medical supplies. The supplies themselves are delivered inside Syria by the Israeli NGO “Israeli Flying Aid”.
To date, no less than nine Syrian hospitals have received life saving medical equipment acquired by Just Beyound our Borders.
It is a remarkable testament to the compassion and humanity of Israel’s people that so much has been achieved through purely civilian means, especially when contrasted with the near hopeless aid distribution efforts of initiatives run by the UN. It takes an enormous amount of logistics and courage to deliver life saving aid inside a war zone even under the most accommodating of circumstances, and it is astonishing that Just Beyound our Border have been able to do so much for Syrians, under very adverse conditions.
The contrast between the effectiveness of initiatives such as Just Beyound our Border and the UN inside Syria couldn’t be more stark. While the UN’s efforts have been hampered by politics, inefficiencies and the need to keep both sides of the conflict happy, Just Beyound our Border and Israeli Flying Aid get things done, and deliver the aid to where it is needed the most. This, despite some understandable ambiguity on the side of some Israelis, and the almost certain risk of encountering Syrians who would be hostile to any form of cooperation with Israeli organizations.
And while UN aid workers are paid very lavishly by Syrian standards, Israeli civilians volunteer their time and efforts with no thought of reward.
While UN aid convoys are protected by excruciatingly negotiated agreements involving all sides in the conflict, Israelis risk life and limb to deliver desperately needed medical supplies to a populace who are for the most part still wary of and hostile towards Israel.
And while every UN aid delivery to any part of Syria is heralded with mountains of media coverage, Israeli civilian assistance is by sheer necessity done in the utmost secrecy and without the rest of the world ever knowing of the lives that have been saved through these efforts.
On the eve of Yom Kippur in 2016, the group’s founder, Gal Lusky, helped organize a public prayer gathering for Syrians affected by the war. While much of the Arab and Muslim world may offer the occasional prayer for Syrians, if they remember Syrians at all, Syria’s Israeli neighbors have taken it upon themselves to do something tangible and save lives. As the NPR report noted, over three thousand Syrians have been treated inside Syria, including over six hundred children.
The NPR audio and article are available here in full.