The most gripping story in the world is of course the global effort to rescue the Thai boys’ soccer team who were found alive deep in a cave in that country after a week of going missing. The story affirms the very best of humanity, when people from many nations come together under extreme circumstances for a purely altruistic purpose, and ethnic and religious differences mean nothing.
But the story has been missing a key component for days: the Israeli contribution. For it is a truth universally acknowledged that whenever the world comes together to save people who aren’t Palestinian, the Israeli emergency teams are right there in masks and scrubs and wet suits.
Well not to worry. In the hours since a British diving team found the boys on July 2, Israeli news organizations have rushed to inform us, Israel is involved! In fact, two Israeli companies are claiming credit for supplying radio technology being used in the effort. Though the reports– see below–are muddled so far, Israel is sure to assert a bigger role as time goes by.
I don’t like being so cynical. But humanitarian rescue is an important part of Israel’s international marketing efforts at a time when its human rights record in Palestine is so miserable. The point is made most achingly by a Palestinian man in Gaza who speaks in ruins of his village in the new documentary Killing Gaza, by Max Blumenthal and Dan Cohen. You see Israel involved in all these rescues, he says; but look at what they are doing right here, slaughtering families and reducing communities to rubble.
Here’s some of the time line on Israel’s involvement. On July 1, reports had it that seven outside countries were involved in the rescue effort. The U.S., Australia, Britain, China, Laos, Myanmar, and the Philippines.
The Times of Israel jumped in to say that Israel was in on the action. Though the rescuers weren’t that well informed.
Israeli rescuers have been part of an international effort to reach 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped for more than a week in a flooded cave in Thailand, and have told Israeli media that some divers involved in the operation are now feared dead.
Since the boys were found on July 2, two Israeli radio companies have issued claims that they are involved in the effort.
The Israeli business site Calcalist featured a radio company called Add-On.
Israeli businessman Moshe Ashkenazi, founder and CEO of technology reseller Add-On APAC Innovative Solutions, told Calcalist on Tuesday that he was approached by the Royal Thai Navy Special Command on Thursday to provide a mesh radio network to the search and rescue efforts taking place inside the Tham Luang cave network in northern Thailand.
But another Israeli company is also taking credit: Maxtech. An Israeli outlet reports:
In an interview with Yisrael Hayom, Uzi Hanoni, CEO of Yavne-based Maxtech, said that when the youths went missing over a week ago, the government of Thailand placed an order for his company’s ad-hoc mesh network communications devices – and when he found out what they wanted them for, Hanoni donated the system to the rescue cause.
Another Israel promotion site, endorses the Maxtech angle:
Rescue workers and humanitarian aid arrived from at least six countries – including the United States and Israel. Helping with the efforts is an Israeli company called Maxtech Networks, which allows for mobile communication in places where there are no cell phone networks.
As soon as they heard about the mission, employees from the company gathered all the necessary equipment and hopped on a plane to Thailand.
“[C]utting-edge Israeli tech,” says this Israeli innovation website.
While the Times of Israel goes all in on the Maxtech narrative.
Yuval Zalmanov, who is taking part in the rescue efforts for Israeli company Maxtech… said Maxtech had managed to set up a wireless communication system in “almost no time” upon reaching the site.
“This is the only communication device rescuers have,” he said. “It’s an Israeli technology that we’re very proud of, that we are able to help them.”
The Maxtech ceo told Israel Hayom that the company couldn’t afford to give away equipment but it is doing so, as “our Israeli contribution.”
“There’s a guy by the name of Assaf who lives in Thailand and he markets our systems,” Hanuni said. “They approached him and said they want them. The systems facilitate communication in areas without reception. We gave them our devices and they took them into the cave. This is our Israeli contribution. We did it voluntarily.”
Hanuni and his business partner made the decision to donate the devices despite their high cost.
“The systems cost upwards of $100,000. And we are a tiny company with nothing. The company lives on its sales,” he said.
Of course Israel also is living on sales today. Typhoons, tsunamis, forest fires, boys in caves are its best answer to international human rights reports on the massacre of unarmed protesters and apartheid road systems and the bulldozing of Bedouin villages. So watch for more and more reports of the “Israeli contribution” in coming days.