Today is January 23, 2019 -
For the past couple of weeks, I have been uncharacteristically infatuated with the search and rescue of the 12 trapped teen Thai soccer players and their coach. For those of you not following the story, all 13 trapped people have now been rescued. Sadly, one of the rescuers, a Thai Navy SEAL, perished during the operation; may the memory of Saman Kunan be for a blessing.
Why have I been infatuated?
First, I am troubled that none of the trapped knows how to swim. I understand that teaching swimming may not be part of the culture, and I appreciate that not everyone here knows how to swim, but I learned how to swim before I could read. My wife and I taught a decade’s worth of kids how to swim at (Jewish) summer camp and, of course, we taught our own kids how to swim. Teaching swimming is part of our values and, in fact, the Talmud teaches that we have an obligation to teach our children to swim. (Gentle plug here for Jewish summer camp–if for no other reason than to make sure that our kids know how to swim.)
Second, I assumed that Israel had somehow been helping with the rescue effort, as she is a world leader in humanitarian crisis relief. I had a very difficult time confirming my hypothesis. I finally found a report in JPost that first responders used Israeli emergency mobile communications technology. Maxtech NetWorks, an Israeli company, donated approximately $100,000 worth of equipment to the effort. The equipment allowed the boys to send data and video from the cave when other communication devices could not without reception.
There is no shortage of negative publicity for Israel. How about a little credit when Israel does something amazing? Here is an excellent article from the Jewish Voice on some of the specifics of the rescue, Israel’s role in this situation, and Israel’s role in other global relief efforts.