80,000 and counting

12.30.04

There are no words to express the horrors of the Tsunami earthquake disaster that so far has claimed over 80,000 lives and completely destroyed millions more. I won’t attempt to find them.

But even though I’m on vacation – from work, from the blog, from reading the papers – I, like many other bloggers, felt it would be horribly remiss of me not to at least make mention of what is pretty much the only news story these days that matters.

First of all, to help: pretty much every relief organization in the book is accepting donations. Money is being collected in the biggest disaster relief effort in history – from individuals, from governments, from the whole world. And all this much-needed help is being accepted… with one notable exception. If you do want to help through Jewish channels, the JDC is taking donations. For Canadians, the CJC is collecting on their behalf.

At times like this, though, the thing I always think about is, well, how big a disaster does something have to be to encourage people to help? Until last week, money was pouring in to help the millions in desperate need in Sudan, as the “conflict” that the UN doesn’t have the guts to call genocide in the Darfur region rages on. But now, the story that food aid to the region is being suspended because it’s too dangerous for aid workers, well, that’s lost in the shuffle. After all, only 40,000 people have died in the Sudan crisis. That’s nowhere near the staggering 80,000 who have died so far in just a couple of days in Tsunami.

80,000. 40,000. Do these numbers even have meaning anymore? Where do we draw the line? Do we donate only when there are four zeros? Record-high generosity for the Tsunami relief funds is much needed and appreciated, but the cold reality is that disasters mean an influx of cash for some at the expense of others who aren’t grabbing as many headlines because their work doesn’t have as many zeros.

Of course, we can’t help everyone everywhere. We all do what we can in small ways. But sometimes I wonder how much of what we do is all about a numbers game.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 hazak 12.30.04 at 3:41 PM

Does anyone know of any relief agency in Canada accepting donations for particular regions only?

I don’t know how I feel about giving money to Indonesia/Malaysia, the most anti-semitic nations in the region.

If a disaster of the same magnitude hit Israel, where a large percentage of the population were to be killed, would they volunteer to send medical units or $$$ to assist in the disaster, or be jumping for joy in the streets burning flags?

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2 DaninVan 12.30.04 at 6:24 PM

Sari; that’s not a realistic comparison. Sudan is a manmade ongoing crisis and there’s absolutely no justification for unarmed civilian aid workers to be put in the position of being killed by fighting. Mankind doing what it does best.

SE Asia is a whole ‘nother story. Even the Tamils have (apparently) put down their weapons and are helping in disaster relief.

Please note that it’s not the UN who are leading the Relief effort in SE Asia. I’ve already heard whining about how little Canada is doing (from 1/2 way round the world) but $40M isn’t exactly chicken feed and it’s up to the affected Governments in the region to detail what, when, and where they need help. B.C.’s Gov’t has promised an additional $8M.

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3 Josh 12.30.04 at 8:26 PM

My company put up a request for donations on our intranet and a promise to match all amounts towards the Red Cross (officially, we’re an American company) and other agencies. This was about the third/fourth time an intranet pledge was made to us. I asked a roommate what he thought and his replies included a bewildered, ‘we have so many poor people here’ but all of a sudden, the government finds 80tons of this and 20tons of that to send over, and then he gave me the ‘I already gave to these intranet donations already’.
Even though it’s only a really rule for farmers, many Jews (non-agrinoms) also ‘tithe’/donate a tenth of their take-home salary (minus certain deductibles) to tzedakah, a commandment, unlike charity which is voluntary.

Anyway, I have no intention of giving to the Red Cross, but found this option:

Chabad of Thailand:
http://www.jewishthailand.com/default_beta.asp

https://www.mychabad.org/templates/articlecco.html?AID=245836&site=www.jewishthailand.com

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4 Justin Karovsky 01.01.05 at 1:55 AM

I agree with Israel not giving aid! Anti-Semitism must not be tolerated. If people who spew malicious propaganda about Jews are allowed to continue, it would violate our basic democratic principles of multiculturalism and freedom. Anti-Semitism is a threat to democracy, just as the ADL conference made clear, and we must make the world a better place. Israel is showing its democratic colours and anti-hate well by not sending aid to Nazis!

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5 DaninVan 01.01.05 at 2:48 AM

The thing about Israel’s offers of Emergency Aid is that it puts the lie to much of what the Leftist anti-Zionist propaganda would like the general public to believe. Joe Public can make up his/her own mind about Israel’s character based on actions not words.
I can’t wait to see how much aid is forthcoming from Syria, Iran, Libya, etc.

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6 Justin Karovsky 01.01.05 at 4:09 AM

Exactly! Anti-Zionists have gained too much ground already, they don’t need more fodder. Libya, Syria and Iran are about as anti-Semitic as they get, and I don’t understand how no one gives these nazis flack for their international relations. But I guess Israel and the United States are held to some divine stanard while radical anti-Semitic islam can run free without anyone in the global community even taking a notice.

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7 DaninVan 01.01.05 at 6:56 AM

Justin, not to argue with your point, but really the problem is with Western Democracies who don’t/won’t support the ONLY Democracy in the M.E.
Arab anti-semitism is a given and is unlikely to change in your lifetime.
What kind of incentive is there for the citizens of any non-democracy when they see the indifference and spinelessness of the EU (and we here in Canada).
By contrast, our Yankee neighbors are Saints.

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