- Viva Sarah Press
White Helmets escape Syria via Israel to Jordan and beyond
Did you see the 2016 documentary on Syria’s “white helmets” civil defense group? It was a powerful window into the daily operations of volunteer rescue workers in Syria, while the civil war there continues.
News today, two years later, is about how 800 White Helmets workers and their families were secretly transported from Syria via Israel to Jordan in a daring rescue mission.
It is not surprising that Israel helped these White Helmet volunteers escape. Israel, though officially an enemy of Syria on the diplomatic playing field, has been helping with humanitarian efforts in Syria since 2011.
“While thousands of Syrians languish on the borders of neighboring countries, Israeli medical teams and hospitals have been tireless and unstinting in treating Syrians in need . . . Israeli and Jewish organizations are, despite considerable personal risk, on the ground in Greece and the Balkans, providing aid and assistance to the seemingly endless wave of refugees fleeing the mayhem of the Middle East,” wrote Aboud Dandachi, a Sunni Muslim from the city of Homs, on a blog he created.
According to reports, Jordan will host the White Helmet workers temporarily – and they’ll reportedly head off to Britain, Germany and Canada to start new lives in new homes in the coming months.
The news is heartwarming and heartbreaking at once.
These civil defense volunteers, who have risked their lives to save others, deserve a new chance at life.
According to their website, the White Helmets have saved more than 114,431 people from the attacks in Syria so far. More than 200 volunteers have died trying to save others.
The news today is heartbreaking because with 800 of them safely out of Syria, the White Helmets still in Syria have an even greater and overwhelming challenge to save lives.
When I read the news today, I thought about the documentary, and about the articles I have written covering the Syrian civil crisis, and I thought about the asylum seekers, and I thought about the world in which my kids are growing up. These people are not just a news story. Watch the documentary. Read about what’s going on. This is a tragedy unfolding right now.
If there is a positive aspect, it’s this: The White Helmets and Israel, as well as numerous others the world over, follow the same adage -- Whoever Saves a Life Saves the World.
The White Helmets say it is a proverb from Islam. Jews believe the same adage comes from the Talmud. But it doesn’t matter who said it or when. It really only matters who follows it.