Looking at Haiti

Editorial

Published November 24, 2010, issue of December 03, 2010.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The images beamed from Haiti seem to go from very bad to unbearably worse. The nation was already the poorest in the hemisphere before the January 12 earthquake crushed the landscape and killed hundreds of thousands. Then came the sight of more than a million displaced people living in over-crowded, squalid refugee camps.

Then the spread of cholera, with 1,344 dead at last count and estimates that 200,000 more could die in the next six months if the disease continues its fatal march. Amid this chaos comes an election November 28 for a desperately needed new national government that may well be inconclusive, perpetuating the image of a corrupt and crumbling nation unable even to be helped.

But here are other images: The dedication on November 18 of a rehabilitation clinic and prosthetic workshop developed by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Israeli medical centers in partnership with the Haitian Red Cross and a local hospital. The sight of microbanks such as Fonkoze, a grantee of the American Jewish World Service, giving life-saving loans to women left penniless by the quake. The 2,000 temporary schools that have been built.

“You can’t look at Haiti as an island. It’s people,” says Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the United States Fund for UNICEF. “We as Jews know what it’s like when people see us as a stereotype. We can’t look at Haitians as stereotypes. It’s awful now, yes, but it’s so much better than it was. It has changed.”

It’s understandable that the nongovernmental organizations with stakes in the ground will seek every reason for, if not optimism, then the guarded belief so necessary in the developing world that small, smart steps will lead to broader improvement. That’s the job of an NGO: to beat back defeat.

For the rest of us, largely removed from the tools of real action, the obligation of remaining committed to a cause this challenging is difficult to sustain. But we must. Jewish organizations large and small have served, and continue to serve, Haiti in remarkable ways. They haven’t left, and neither can we. “We have to stay in Haiti until she’s able to stand on her feet,” says Stern. And look for brighter images to replace the despair.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.