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September 29, 2017

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PAGE 14A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, SEPTEMBER 29, 2017 Miriam Ballin, holding her baby daughter, at the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. By Andrew Tobin JERUSALEM (JTA)--Jeru- salem therapist Miriam Ballin is the kind of person who takes the initiative. Despite resistance from her haredi Orthodox community, she became a medic. Then she launched a pacesetting psychological first aid unit. Clearly she was not just going to stand idly by while Tropical Storm Harvey flooded her native Houston. So on Wednesday evening, Ballin left her husband to watch their five young chil- dren and headed to southeast Texas, where she and six other Israeli mental health profes- sionals will help locals cope with the flooding. Their work will be guided by hard-won experience responding to local emergencies, including dozens of terrorist attacks. "I just feel it's necessary and needed, and simply the right thing to do," she said. "When we have 150 people who have been trained to deal with exactly this, not to send them to Houston to help out is I think wrong." In addition to her day job as a family therapist, Ballin, 33, is the head of the Psychotrau- ma Unit of United Hatzalah, a mostly haredi volunteer emergency service based in Je- rusalem. She spearheaded the creation of the unit last year amid awave ofPalestinian ~io- lence to provide psychological support to those experiencing potentially traumatic events. The unit's 200 or so mem- bers include medics, psy- chiatrists, psychologists and social workers who are trained by some of Israel's leading experts on the psychology of crises. They have responded to dozens of terrorist attacks, as well as forest fires, car accidents and other medical emergencies. Harvey will be their first experience with flooding. For five days, the storm has deluged southeast Texas, in- cluding Houston, the fourth- largest American city, with record rains. Rising floodwa- ters have forced thousands of people from their homes and caused at least 30 deaths, according to local officials. Dov Maisel, United Hat- zalah's vice president of in- ternational operations, said the message he has received is that plenty of medical and first responders are on the ground, but that with many people displaced and looking for loved ones, psychological support is much needed. "As a small organization from a small country, we found we could make the big- gest impact by mobilizing our Psychotrauma Unit," Maisel said. "The provision of psy- chological support in the acute stages of trauma, from incident to seven days, is something we're leading the world in." Ballin and her six team members, all drawn from the Psychotrauma Unit, will meet Thursday in Dallas before making their way to Houston. Theywill coordinate with the local and federal of- ficials on the ground there, as well as leaders of the Jew- ish community, which has been especially hard hit. If more help is needed, a couple dozen more members of the Psychotrauma Unit can be deployed from Israel. American Jewish donors, many of them based in Hous- ton, are funding the trip. Ballin's group won't be the only Israeli rescue workers in Houston. Ten members of the IsraAID nongovernmental organization were meeting Wednesday in the city to focus on relief work. For Ballin, the effort is personal. She was born and raised in Houston's Reform Jewish community and still has family and friends there. But she has since taken a very different path. After becoming more ob- servant in high school, she met and married an Austra- lian haredi man while she was attending college in New York. They immigrated to Is- rael in 2011. Soon thereafter, while earning a certificate in family therapy from Bar-Ilan University, Ballin became the first woman medic for United Hatzalah, whose leadership she said embraced her ambi- tion. The service now has over 150 female volunteers. However, not everyone in the haredi community, where religious observance is strict and men and women have sharply delineated roles, was Supportive. "We definitely did get a lot of flak from the rabbis," Ballin recalled. "But the way that I went about it and I dealt with itwas showing time and time again the sensitivity to those that it doesn't kind of sit well with. For example, I would never go to a call in the middle of [the haredi neighborhood] Mea Shearim." InApril, Ballinagainworked with United Hatzalah leaders to start the Psychotrauma Unit. Her husband, Adam, a 35-year-old family physician at Hadassah Medical Center, is also a volunteer medic and member of the unit. They and their children live in the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem. "Instead of getting baby sitters at night to go out to restaurants, we get baby sit- ters to go out and [scan] calls in and around Jerusalem," she joked. Being a woman haredi medic has its challenges, Ballin acknowledged, but she compensates by always being prepared. In addition to her blonde wig and fluorescent orange medic's vest, she has packed kosher canned food to keep her going in Houston. "I'll be there with my head cover on, in my skirt, doing the work I do," she said. "I'll roll up my sleeves and get the job done." By Rafael Medoff The United Nations has crowned her a"human rights defender," while Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based broadcaster, hails her as a "Palestin- ian supermom." But Manal Tamimi's links to violence 1 2 3 4 P A C T 14 U S U R 17 A S S U 2~ I S 23 A 27 28 29 F O R G 33 A D I O 4% O N 45 46 T R A P III 55 A S S E 59 B O N D 66 B L O G 7O R O U E 73 S S T S 51698 92814 73425 67532 89341 14267 45976 38159 26783 and tweets accusing Jews of "drinking Palestinian blood" are prompting some of her backers to reconsider their support. Tamimi, a 45-year-old mother of four, is a leader of the Popular Resistance Organizing Committee in the town of Nabi Saleh, near 7234 3567 6918 8491 5672 9385 1823 2746 4159 the Palestinian Authority (PA)-controlled city of Ra- mallah. Nearly every Friday for the past seven-and-a-half years, Tamimi and her col- leagues have marched to the nearby Jewish community of Halamish to demand its expulsion. Halamish is the village where on July 21 a Palestinian terrorist stabbed to death three members of the Salomon family at their Shabbat dinner table. During the Friday pro- tests, many of the marchers have hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers guarding the town, who have responded with tear gas or rubber bullets. Tamimi, her husband Bilal and their children have attracted inter- national attention by posting videos of the soldiers on the Internet. The Tamimis con- tend that the soldiers' arrests of rock-throwers constitutes persecution of the residents of Nabi Saleh. 'Vampire' Zionists Tamimi was included in a list of "human rights defend- ers" in a recent report by S. Michael Lynk, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the disputed territories. In response, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based organiza- tion that tracks the activities and funding of self-described human rights groups, in- formed the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that Tamimi has during the past two years authored tweets such as: "Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day [written on Yore Kippur] by drinking Pal- estinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end." In another tweet Aug. 1, 2015, she said, "I do hate israel, i do hate zi- onism, i wish a third Intefada coming soon and people rais up and kills all these zionist settlers everywhere." In a Twitter exchange Aug. 20 with NGO Monitor spokes- man Daniel Laufer, Tamimi wrote, "I'm not a Jew heater [sic], I have a very good Jew friends, I hate Zionists & I'm not denying that, Zionism, KKK and ISIS R all same 4 me." In response to the NGO Monitor complaint, the U.N. agency removed Tamimi from the roster of "human rights defenders" in Lynk's report. NGO Monitor President Prof. Gerald Steinberg told, "There is no excuse for funding Jew-hatred in the guise of promoting peace or in any other NGO framework, or for giving anti-Semites such as Tamimi the status of 'human rights defenders.' Independent examinations of the U.N. and EU agencies involved in this travesty are long overdue--the disconnect between noble objectives and immoral actions has been clear for many years." Steinberg added, "Full transparency and oversight for the massive sums [of money] going to radical NGOs is crucial so that this behavior is halted. While some of the European governments, in- cluding Switzerland and Den- mark, have started to examine funding for political NGOs after parliaments demanded accountability, there is still a long way to go." Amnesty International's role While the U.N. human rights office is distancing itself from Tamimi, Amnesty International has embraced the Tamimis and their cause. Amnesty has declared Nabi Saleh to be a "community-at- risk" and featured it in one of its "Write for Rights" letter- writing campaigns. "We need to tell the Israeli authorities: enough--you are no longer facing a tiny village Manal on a small hill. You now have the entire Amnesty movement to reckon with," according to Amnesty researcher Saleh Hi- jazi, who formerly worked in the PA's Ministry of Planning. Edith Garwood, Amnesty International USA's special- ist on Israel, the disputed territories and the PA, has written that the Nabi Saleh demonstrators "face frequent violent repression from the Israeli army just for practic- ing their human right to peacefully express their op- position" to Israel. Garwood's essay, which was published in the Huffington Post, did not mention the rock-throwing. Asked by whether Amnesty International is reconsidering its support for Tamimi in view of her anti- Semitism and advocacy of vio- lence, Amnesty spokesperson Amanda Simon responded, "Our position regarding the rights of residents of Nabi Saleh to peacefully protest against Israeli occupation and settlements remains un- changed." As for whether her phrase "peacefully protest" is meant to include rock- throwing, Simon replied that "even in cases where the pro- Tamimi testers have thrown stones these have posed little or no serious risk" to the Israelis who were targeted. At least 15 Israelis have been killed by Arab rock-throwers since the 1980s. 'Supermom' status The Qatar government- funded news agency Ai Jazeera featured Tamimi in August in a profile titled -"How to be a PalestinianSupermom." In Tamimi's view, "to be a Palestinian parent is to be an activist," the article reported. It noted that she "writes social media posts," but the article did not mention her tweets advocating violence or de- nouncing Jews as "vampires." Tamimi, who runs an online news service called Tamimi Press; spoke at a European Union-financed conference in Barcelona, Spain, earlier this year on "preventing violent extremism." Last year, however, Tamimi was denied a visa to enter the U.K. She had been invited to undertake a speaking tour on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in- cluding participation in the Blood on page 15A