By Lewis Krinsky, National Chairman,American Friends of Magen David Adom
Seventy years ago, a group of American visionaries dreamed of forming a support organization for Magen David Adom as their way of helping to build our national homeland, Israel, and save lives. Today, American Friends of Magen David Adom is celebrating "70 Years of Saving Lives in Israel" and beginning its eighth decade with one of the most energetic and far reaching programs in their notable history.
AFMDA is actively engaged in rebuilding what will be Magen David Adom's flagship station, the William H. Bloomberg MDA Jerusalem Station, is beginning work on a new Emergency Medical Station in Holon and is planning to build new ones for MDA in Lod and Mitzpe Ramon.
It recently completed the total renovation of the Joseph and Phyllis Gurwin Palm Beach Friends MDA Nahariya Emergency Medical Station and also finished the substation in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Ze'ev, joining Afula, Rehovot, Beit She'an, Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Dimona, Afula, Natseret Ilit and Kiryat Gat as projects delivered to MDA over the last five years.
AFMDA has also agreed to supply 75 new ambulances; provide supplies, equipment and upgraded computerization for the MDA National Blood Services Center; and fund a wide range of high tech communications systems - including the new "Motobridge" system - and computer programs and packages for Magen David Adom.
The headlines here in the U.S. don't tell the day to day story, but in Israel's western Negev all eyes are on the sky. Just before Pesach, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed a farm worker in Ashkelon, as Palestinian groups in Gaza continue to fire mortars and missiles at Israel. After months of quiet, residents throughout the region are again anxious, knowing the Qassams are targeting them, their loved ones and their homes. In addition, two Grad rockets thought to be aimed at Eilat struck the neighboring city of Aqaba, just across the border in Jordan on April 22.
"If not for Magen David Adom, no one could live in Sderot," a shop owner there observed. "The MDA medics are on duty day and night and race to the scene of every attack. I can only sleep at night because they are watching over us and will be there if we need them."
Magen David Adom (MDA) personnel are on alert, not only in the western Negev but throughout the country, where they answer the call for every conceivable medical emergency, from births to heart attacks, every day of the year, day and night. In Israel's north, where citizens remember all too well the barrages of Katyushas fired at them by Hizbollah during the 2006 war and the occasional rockets that still strike their region, they also hear the threatening words of Lebanon's leaders who recently expressed hostility to Israel and strong solidarity with the Shiite terrorist organization.
And all of Israel has read with alarm the new reports that Syria has recently provided long range, accurate Scud missiles to Hizbollah. Remembering Magen David Adom's heroism during the war, they breathe a sigh of relief because they know MDA is there, with them.
We've seen MDA's brave personnel in action on CNN and in the media when attacks against Israel have been too terrible for the foreign press to ignore. Yet, all too often, their heroic and often lifesaving efforts are lost in the larger story.
Even further in the background are the hundreds of thousands of our U.S. donors who have helped to build the State of Israel over the past 70 years by supporting this brave corps of trained rescue personnel with a worldwide reputation for rapid respond, expertise and efficiency, and a willingness to participate in disaster relief elsewhere, most recently after the Haitian earthquake.
American Friends of Magen David Adom (AFMDA, formerly known as ARMDI) - the U.S. home for those of us who respect, honor and support this Israeli institution - begins its eighth decade committed to seeing that its tremendous work continues and that the tens of millions of dollars donated each year equip MDA to continue its critical work for everyone living in Israel.
In the last five years alone, AFMDA has raised $120 million to build new state-of-the-art MDA facilities, supply ambulances and emergency vehicles, train first responders and others, equip and modernize the nation's blood services and provide a wide array of emergency equipment and medical supplies as well as protective gear for MDA personnel who often "answer the call" while the bombs, rockets and bullets are still being aimed at Israel's people.
Magen David Adom is a pillar of Israel's social and civil structure, exclusively mandated by the Knesset to serve as the nation's emergency and first responders with medical, disaster, ambulance and blood services. And each dollar donated to American Friends of Magen David Adom further and most decisively underscores the unbreakable bonds of unity and solidarity between Israelis and Americans, the shared commitment by each to Israel's independence this Yom Ha'atzmaut and to the mitzvah of Pikuach Nefesh, the saving of human life.
American Friends of Magen David Adom sent $21 million to MDA Israel in 2009 and is seeking to exceed that figure in 2010 with a strong campaign, increased cooperation with our friends in MDA and completion of essential projects.
AFMDA celebrates Israel's 62nd anniversary, thanks its supporters throughout the U.S. and expresses profound pride - in the trust we have earned from our donors, our seven decades of working closely with MDA Israel and our record of achievement as MDA's primary and strongest supporter in the world.
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