TEANECK, NJ - More than 150 people attending a fundraiser Sunday to support Magen David Adom, Israel’s national EMS and blood-services organization, mostly drowned out the hateful message of a group of more than a dozen protesters who shouted anti-Israel rhetoric across the street.
For attendees of the event, the protest was particularly ironic, since Magen David Adom (MDA) frequently treats Palestinians undergoing medical emergencies. MDA’s work helping all people in need was also a common theme among the speakers at the event.
Also at the event, Mark Schwartz was presented with the MDA Lifesaving Award, Juda Engelmayer received the Public Safety Award for helping found a nonprofit community security agency for Jewish institutions, and the Yavneh Academy was recognized for its work raising money to fund a Life Support Ambulance for Israel.
Among the speakers at the event were Israel’s former consul general in New York, Ido Aharoni; Magen David Adom’s director of multi-casualty response training, Guy Caspi; and Sarri Singer, a New Jersey native who was nearly killed by a suicide bomber on an Israeli bus in 2003.
“Magen David Adom is an EMS organization and makes no distinction between Arabs and Jews when their paramedics are treating people at the scene of a medical emergency,” said David Frankel, CEO of American Friends of Magen David Adom. “Not only does MDA coordinate and train with the Palestinian and Jordanian Red Crescent organizations, they also transport critically ill patients from Gaza to Israel when they require the more advanced level of care available at Israeli hospitals.”
Just a few weeks after more than 600 terrorist rockets were launched into Israel, Caspi showed harrowing video footage of the severity of the attacks and talked about Magen David Adom’s ability to treat the more than 100 Israelis injured. He also discussed some of the new ways terrorists are attacking Israel. While in the United States items such as balloons and kites are simple children’s toys, Caspi showed how they’ve now been weaponized to carry explosives and incendiary devices into Israel.
Singer, who grew up in Lakewood, shared her story of surviving the terror attack in 2003. More than 15 years later, Singer told the story of the day her life changed forever. If she’d been sitting even one seat over on the bus, she said, the blast likely would have killed her. After recovering from her wounds, Singer started a nonprofit called Strength to Strength, which helps other victims of terrorist attacks.
“They saved my life,” Singer said of the MDA personnel who responded to the scene. “It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from. Everyone comes running to help.”
For Aharoni, the presence of the protesters was another example of a historical misunderstanding that has followed the country since its founding. The former diplomat said that while many people believe the State of Israel was founded out of sympathy for the millions of Jews killed in the holocaust, the case for a Jewish state goes much deeper than that. Aharoni said his family first arrived in what is now Israel as far back as 1870, long before the rise of Hitler.
In addition to the money raised by people attending the event, more than $1,000 was raised by the children of one of the local homeowners who set up a lemonade stand in their driveway, just a few feet away from the protestors.