IsraAid Quietly Helping Syrian Refugees

YERUSHALAYIM -

IsraAid, an Israeli nonprofit humanitarian organization, is discreetly providing emergency provisions to refugees from the Syrian civil war in Jordan, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Tuesday.

Since earlier this year, the organization says it has furnished approximately $100,000 worth of supplies, including such basic survival items as lentils, pasta, powdered milk, tea and detergent.

But one thing IsraAid is leaving out is any Jewish or Israeli label on their acts of compassion. Literally. Aid workers are instructed to remove the word “Jewish” from sacks of provisions.

“We don’t announce that we’re Israeli,” the worker says. “There’s no need for that. Once you let that cat out of the bag, everything starts to blow up.”

Syria and Israel are technically at war. IsraAid workers interviewed requested anonymity, as did the Jordanian NGO that is IsraAid’s partner on the ground. Working with Israelis, they told JTA, could endanger their work and the refugees’ lives. The Jordanians provide police escorts.

“We try to work by the book and not go under the radar,” says Shachar Zahavi, IsraAid’s founding director, who noted that other countries require extended security checks. “The Jordanians are open to it.” An estimated half a million Syrians have fled to Jordan due to the war.

IsraAid has also gone to Japan, Haiti and Kenya to help in disaster relief.