“Israel and Fukushima” on Japan – Fissures in the Planetary

For some time since March 11, I have been unable to do anything, distracted by the fluctuating situations at the Fukushima Nuclear plant and the news from the disaster-stricken area. I have almost abandoned much of my cherished daily routine (i.e., going over Arabic news from Palestine and Iraq) and my life has been somewhat floating in the air.

My brain started emitting dopamine, however, the minute I read a March 29th news that a medical support team from Israel had finally completed setting up facilities and started running medical examinations in Minani Sanriku Town in Miyagi Prefecture. Since it was reported that Israel was preparing to send a support team of medics, on a mailing list for Palestinian issues there have been debates about pros and cons of the Israeli project. For instance, I came across a voice: “we cannot let such an aggressive state like Israel look after Japanese people,” and I became weary of.

Especially when Israel comes up as a topic, conspiracy theories tend to rule. In any case, I shall bring up some facts to contextualize the event. First of all, Israeli medical unit was the first oversea medical team that Japan accepted in the current disaster, and it was also the first time for Israel to send their medical unit to Japan. This ‘first-time’ characteristics reminds me of the Haiti earthquake in January 2010, whose death toll is said to have reached over 300,000. Thee days after the quake, the first Israeli unit arrived as one of the vanguard foreign teams to enter Haiti. Soon after their arrival at Port-au-Prince, the Israel team set up an outdoor medical facility and started working; it is said that that was “the only facility that could handle complicated surgery” in the midst of chaotic situation. Eventually 236 Israelis entered Haiti, 218 of whom were soldiers and officials of IDF (Israel Defense Forces).

It is deceiving that Japanese media is calling the IDF team “medical team” and “medical staff”, for in fact all the sixty members in the current mission are soldiers and medics of National Security Forces and Medical Corps. While spectacles of the ‘active’ appearance of US military and JSDF (Japan Self-Defense Forces) may prevent us from seeing the actual situation, we must acknowledge that the IDF foreign mission is an oversea military dispatch. In recent years Israel dispatched its rescue units to, first earthquake-stricken Mexico in ‘85, and then Armenia, Romania, Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, India and so on. It is obvious, perhaps too obvious, that Israel attempts to create sympathetic mood in those countries in turmoil and civil war and outside the Arab world, where critic of Israeli occupation is not conspicuous. Hence Israel’s quick decision to dispatch its rescue unit right after 3/11 was due to the fact that Japan is an ally to the US, and the position of the government that it has not criticized Israeli occupation policy for the past 30 years. While the attitude of Japanese administration was too confused to accept offers from many foreign countries for rescue and support, I shall stress the fact that Israel team was solely accepted in a very smooth fashion, though the background is unknown.

Continue reading at “Isreal and Fukushima”.

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