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Advocacy Update: Beyond Boycotts

Beyond Boycotts

4 April 2014

By Emily Gian

Over the years, I have received some fantastic “good news” stories that come from Israel and that really needed to be shouted about from the rooftops.

Whether it has been some technological advancement or a medical breakthrough, I have always wondered why such amazing stories are not usually considered “newsworthy” by media outlets.

So you can imagine how overjoyed I was this week, to open up the Melbourne Age newspaper and to read a two-page spread on what is really one of the most astounding inventions of our time – one which comes from the State of Israel.

This is the story of “ReWalk” which has deservedly won its place in the top 5 of Time Magazine’s 25 best inventions of 2013 (it has been around longer). Developed by Israeli company Argo Medical Technologies, ReWalk enables individuals with lower limb disabilities such as paraplegics to stand, walk and take steps independently. Even on paper, the benefits of this invention are remarkable, but I have now had the pleasure of seeing this demonstrated live in an event hosted this week by the Zionist Council of Victoria and the Israel Trade Commission.

The suit was worn and demonstrated by Radi Kaiuf, an Israeli Druze who was shot in the spine while serving in the IDF in 1988. He was confined to a wheelchair for more than twenty years, but thanks to ReWalk, he is now able to do everyday tasks that we often take for granted such as playing in the park with his children and getting around at the shopping centre.

Watching a man, who a few minutes earlier was sitting in a wheelchair, actually stand up and walk blew me away. When he told a story of walking down the aisle, and being able to stand eye to eye and give his wife a hug for the first time, I had tears in my eyes and goose bumps on my skin.

Sadly, the first thought that came to my mind was about of the BDS movement and how this organisation would not hesitate normally to boycott such an invention because it is the product of Israeli minds and Israeli technology and for no other reason. BDS was set up purely to harm Israel and put an end to the one state in the world which is a homeland for Jews. BDS does not have at heart the interests of peace or the progress of mankind.

I used the world “sadly” because the thought immediately lowered this wonderful innovation into the dark world of cheap propaganda.

Israel is much better than that. Radi’s story made me realise that when we talk of the fruits of the labour of the people of Israel whether they be in the arts, in science and education or in the pursuit of true peace with their neighbours, it is a useful exercise to consider what each of these things actually do and what they can achieve for the world at large.

Seeing the ReWalk demonstration, and then watching some testimonials online as well, made me realise what a life-changing invention this is; the world would be a poorer without it.

So I have made a decision that from now on, and I going to focus far less on what the hate mongers in the BDS Movement have to say. It is, after all, a lot easier for them to boycott an orange or some hand cream than it is to boycott a vaccine that could cure a wide range of cancers or an organisation that improves the quality of paediatric cardiac care for children from developing countries who suffer from heart disease.

If they want to boycott innovation, advancement and the prospects for a peaceful future, I say go for it, but I will not lower my sights to their level of mindless stupidity and hatred for some of their fellow men and women who do things in their daily lives to make the world a better place.