Aid From Israel!.. to NY and NJ

Israel Flying Aid, the Israeli global humanitarian organization, which was first to land in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake, has been distributing large supplies of gas to hospitals, food, batteries and generators to Hurricane Sandy victims.

“We have many years of disaster relief experience,” said Israel Flying Aid North American Operations Manager Moti Kahana.  “Israel Flying Aid, in having Israelis on the ground here in New York and New Jersey, have made Israel the only foreign nation to provide humanitarian assistance to the US during this disaster.  We are working in coordination with FEMA, local police, the American Red Cross and Jewish communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

More after the jump.
Passover Food Box Distribution in Lod 2012Kahana said that most of the efforts had been donated by Israelis living in the US, and this enabled gas to be distributed to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.

Joel Leyden, an Israel Flying Aid Operations Specialist who was with the IFA in Haiti, has been working with the Greater Hartford Jewish Community to distribute both food and generators on Long Island.

“We had a convoy of food and generators move out of the Greater Hartford area early yesterday morning,” said Leyden.  “The food had been donated by Panera Bread and Dunkin Donuts in the Hartford, Manchester Connecticut area.  This food was distributed to hurricane victims on the south shore of Long Island, the Nassau County Police, the Free-port Fire Department and the Red Cross Shelter which is set up at Nassau Community College.”

Leyden said that when they spotted hundreds of people lined up at gas stations to pour gas into their containers, they would get out of their cars and feed these people as they waited.  The donuts and bread created smiles and positive moods which replaced the trauma of suffering in the dark and cold, he said.

“We are so very proud to see you, to welcome you to New York,” said Dr. Jason Mallin, who normally practices neurology at North Shore University Hospital but was now volunteering with the Nassau County Department of Health.  “We read about Israel and the great work you did in Haiti.  We have thousands here that need you.  It’s awesome that you are here!”

Michael Duarte, a Red Cross volunteer from California who was supervising the Long Island shelter, hugged the Israel Flying Aid team as they arrived.

“We had some bad press as a result of misunderstandings,” said Duarte.  People in Staten Island, New York were looking for us but due to a New York State law, we could not start operations until after three days.  We are now operating at full capacity throughout New York City and this Red Cross shelter at Nassau Community College with over 900 clients.  These people have lost their homes.  Lost everything.  We are here for them and so very pleased to receive your good help.”

Duarte, who hadn’t slept in three days, had coordinated a first class shelter and his staff could not have been more professional.  Sleeping cots, Red Cross blankets, a cafeteria and even a play area for children had been carefully put into place. The fresh food from Israel Flying Aid was served as dinner that evening.

Super storm Hurricane Sandy, which was also referred to as Frankenstorm as it became one huge storm from three separate systems, slammed New York, New Jersey and the southern Connecticut shore with 100 mph winds.  The devastation was historic as over 100 people perished, thousands of homes were destroyed and millions were left without electricity.

“As Israelis, we know how to react to such disasters,” said Kahana.   “We are trained in the military to be prepared and ready at a moment’s notice.  This edge is what enables us to go places where others don’t and get the job done with little or no bureaucracy.  We are proud to help the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut communities, people who have provided assistance to Israel throughout the years.  What we critically need now is donations for our staff and volunteers to continue their life saving efforts as temperatures drop and people critically need generators and fuel for heat.”

Israel Flying Aid, which is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that assists global communities after earthquakes and other natural and man made disasters, have saved lives in Japan, Haiti, Iraq, Turkey, South Sudan and the US after Hurricane Katrina.

Mitt Said He Would Shut Down FEMA

Exchange from CNN’s June GOP Primary Debate

CNN Moderator John King: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

Governor Mitt Romney: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

King: Including disaster relief, though?

Romney: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Follow up

Yesterday, after a storm relief event campaign rally in Ohio, Mitt Romney refused to answer questions about how he would handle the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). According to the Romney pool report,

TV pool asked Romney at least five times whether he would eliminate FEMA as president/what he would do with FEMA. He ignored the q[uestions]s but they are audible on cam[era]. The music stopped at points and the q[uestions]s would have been audible to him.

DHS Secretary Nepolitano Meets With Jewish Community Leaders

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today met with New York Jewish community leaders from the UJA-Federation at the White House, to discuss a variety of topics including information sharing and underscoring the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) partnerships with faith-based communities to prevent, prepare for and respond to terrorist threats.

More after the jump.
Secretary Napolitano said:

DHS recognizes the important role the nonprofit community has in our homeland security efforts. We work closely with nonprofit organizations throughout the country- including the faith-based community — to share information, offer training, conduct risk assessments and provide resources to give the nonprofit sector the tools to address threats and help keep communities safe.

During the meeting, Secretary Napolitano highlighted the Department’s efforts to support faith-based communities through DHS grants and information sharing, including collaboration through the Faith Based Task Force under the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

In FY 2012, DHS sustained funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program despite significant overall cuts to grants in order to support target hardening and physical security enhancements at nonprofit organizations that are at high risk of terrorist attack. For the first time, FEMA also made nonprofit organizations eligible for Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Activities (LETPA) funding in the FY 2012 grant guidance. Through this funding, DHS encourages states, urban areas, and regions to work closely with the nonprofit community to address terrorism prevention concerns and the needs of the nonprofit sector.

Last year, Secretary Napolitano announced the expansion of the “If You See Something, Say Something™” public awareness campaign to Jewish community by partnering with the Jewish Federations of North America and the Secure Community Network-a mechanism for information sharing with faith- and community-based organizations designed to quickly improve overall security awareness in a crisis situation.

The “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign-originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and now licensed to DHS for a nationwide campaign-is a simple and effective program to engage the public and key frontline employees to identify and report indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime to the proper transportation and law enforcement authorities.

Privatizing Disaster Relief

Last night, CNN’s John King moderated a Presidential Debate at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire between seven Republican hopefuls. All of the candidates argued to reduce the role of the Federal Government, and John King tried to determine how far the candidates were willing to go in that regard.

In the case of Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA), the answer is quite far: He wants to privatize the Federal Emergency Management Agency or at least remove it from the Federal Department of Homeland Security and leave each state on its own to fend for itself in the case of a natural or man-made disaster.

KING: What else [is the Federal Government too involved in], Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Storm-tossed South rises… for more government

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: “It should have some spending cuts as a down payment on controlling the size of our federal government.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Richmond, Virginia: “We’ve had to bring this president kicking and screaming to the table to cut spending.”

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio: “It’s time for us to get serious about how we’re spending the nation’s money.”

These Republicans, along with others in Congress and statehouses like Trenton and Madison, demand smaller government and lower spending, yet they have not complained about the federal government’s aid to the Republican-dominated Southern states ravaged by storms and tornadoes that left 350 people dead.

More after the jump.
“They have been very proactive and very reactive to our requests,” Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, a northern Alabama Republican, told The New York Times.

Aderholt was praising the Obama administration’s response to the storms, mainly through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. When the president visited Tuscaloosa, Ala., the hardest hit area in the region, Obama said, “We’re going to make sure that you’re not forgotten and that we do everything we can make sure that we rebuild.”

Obama signed a disaster declaration for Alabama on Thursday, April 28, 2011, and subsequently signed disaster declarations for Georgia and Mississippi.

FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate explained that the declarations sought by these states mean that the federal government will pay 75 percent of the uninsured costs to repair public buildings; that residents can qualify for modest recovery grants; and that businesses can apply for low-interest loans.

FEMA also assigned liaison officers to Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee, a spokesman said.

Aderholt, a veteran House member who seems more reasonable than extremist Republicans, is not resisting the government’s aid to Alabama and the other southern states. Most of them are represented by Republicans in the Senate, the House and their respective governor’s offices.

Probably some people wish that Obama had rejected these disaster declarations in the spirit of shrinking government. If Republicans want less government, why would they accept federal aid for storm relief?

Back in Washington, the GOP House and Senate members from these states have been plotting to eliminate programs that help all Americans generally and big cities specifically.

Never did they express such urgent concern when they voted to invade two fragmented countries one after the other and cut taxes for the wealthy.

The hypocrisy is glaring, but the disasters plaguing the South show that even southern states need government. The only effective means of resolving America’s many problems is to involve government, directly or indirectly.

We all certainly recognize that there are many problems with government.

Ronald Reagan’s proclamation that “Government is the problem” distorts the situation. Government is “a” problem when it does not carry out its responsibilities properly. Did Reagan do his job or was he “the problem” for eight years?

The same question can posed to Boehner, Cantor and Graham.