Here’s a purely hypothetical scenario:
You are a soldier on a battlefield, and find yourself locked in hand-to-hand combat with an enemy soldier. During the struggle you manage to wound him badly, rendering him unconscious and in critical condition. Now that he is no longer a threat to you, his status changes such that you are now obligated to try to treat his wounds as you would any wounded soldier.
You and your comrades manage to stabilize him and carry him on a stretcher to a mobile surgical unit (think M.A.S.H.) where the triage team quickly determines that he needs emergency surgery if he is going to survive. But he has already lost a lot of blood and the surgery will require several units of his blood type. A glance at his dog tag reveals that he has AB negative blood; the rarest blood type in the world, and the surgical unit doesn’t have any on hand.
A quick poll of the personnel in the area turns up an ironic surprise; you are the only person with the enemy soldier’s blood type. So you do as you’re told; even though less than an hour ago this man was trying to kill you (in fairness, you were trying to kill him too), you sit down, roll up your sleeve and allow the nurse to start taking your blood to be used during the surgery.
Just as the nurse is is starting to fill the first bag of blood, the enemy soldier (who has been stretched out unconscious in the bed next to yours) wakes up, sees you hooked up to the blood transfusion equipment and begins screaming that he won’t accept your blood. He calls your blood ‘filthy’ and ‘unclean’ and swears that he would “rather die than accept the blood of apes and pigs”.
At this point you:
A) Stop the nurse from taking your blood and tell her that you want to grant the enemy’s wish and let him die.
B) Yell back at the enemy soldier that he doesn’t have a choice and that once he’s under general anesthesia the doctors are going to replace all his blood with ‘filthy’ blood from you and your comrades!
C) Ignore the raving enemy soldier and let the medical staff knock him out and take your blood for the operation.
D) Ask the medical staff to try to stabilize him will fluids (if possible) long enough to make a request to the enemy troops to send over typed blood from one of his countrymen.
E) Offer another suggestion of your own.
I’m interested to know how you would act in this hypothetical situation… but I want to make it clear that this is far from hypothetical.
There have been many natural disasters in the Muslim world over the past few decades where Israel has offered to provide medical supplies, emergency personnel and… blood. This last bit has always been a sticking point. You see, Jewish blood is considered unacceptable by the people we are supposed to be trying to make peace with. It is, according to them, ‘filthy’.
The New York times almost – but not quite – made reference to this seldom discussed fact in the 19th paragraph of an article. Here, read the following and tell me if you spot it:
“Israel sent in [to Gaza] some 40 trucks of humanitarian relief, including blood from Jordan and medicine. Egypt opened its border with Gaza to some similar aid and to allow some of the wounded through”
Did you catch it? Why would Israel need to send blood from Jordan? We never have a huge surplus of blood, but we always have some on hand! Is Jordan’s medical establishment better prepared than Israel’s? And why would Egypt need to send ‘similar aid’? If Israel is controlling everything going in and out of Gaza right now, why are we suddenly talking about sending trucks of our own humanitarian aid… but blood from Jordan and Egypt?
The truth is, just as Israel has had to come to terms with a Red Diamond as its medical symbol abroad (since the International Red Cross made it clear that the Red Star of David is offensive to too much of the world), we have also somehow had to make peace with the fact that even our blood is considered sub-human and filthy by the very people with whom we are supposed to be making peace.
So I’m asking you… what would you do if you were that hypothetical soldier in the scenario above? And what would you do if you were Israel today, being told that yes, we’ll accept medical supplies and humanitarian aid from you… but not your filthy blood.
Would you really go to the Arab Red Crescent Society of Jordan and ask them to lend you some blood?
And, how do you make peace with people who don’t even consider you human?
David Bogner, formerly of Fairfield, CT, lives in Efrat with his wife Zahava (nee Cheryl Pomeranz), and their children Ariella, Gilad and Yonah. Since moving to Israel in 2003 David has been working in Israel’s defense industry on International Marketing and Business Development. In his free time David keeps a blog (www.treppenwitz.com) and is an amateur beekeeper.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.