On Tuesday May 11, the Reut Institute participated in a discussion in the Knesset initiated by MK Zeev Bielski, chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for the Examination of Home-Front Readiness.
The discussion focused on ways in which the non-profit and business sectors can contribute to the preparedness of the Israeli home front and to local and national resilience. Many Knesset members, governmental officials, and other representatives of civilian organizations attended as well, including the Israel Trauma Coalition and the United Jewish Appeal – the Federation of New York.
During the discussion, the Reut Institute presented the conceptual framework, ‘Civil Resilience Network,’ which was written in collaboration with the Israel Trauma Coalition and initiated by the United Jewish Appeal – Federation of New York City. The document presents a strategy for mobilizing Israeli society to contend with national crisis. The strategy is based on organizing individuals, households, corporations, organizations, and public institutions into a civil resilience network that is founded on a culture of preparedness.
MK Bielski, who conducted the discussion, emphasized the importance of integrating businesses and other civil society organizations in preparations for emergency scenarios. Consequently, MK Israel Hasson called for the National Emergency Authority (RACHEL) to embrace the conceptual framework because “the scenario of the threat it deals with is so large that it requires a mindset change in all of us.”
The head of the National Emergency Authority, Ze’ev (Vova) Zuk-Ram, said that the National Emergency Authority has been working on strengthening Israel’s preparedness for four years. He concluded that a paramount need today is teaching the population how to help itself.
Many of the civilian representatives pointed to the crucial need of building civil capacities during peaceful times, so that in times of emergency people know what to do and how to act. In this context, Elisheva Flamm-Oren, Israel Office Planning Director for the United Jewish Appeal – Federation of New York City, noted that in times of emergency the Jewish world will unite and mobilize to provide funds and other resources, and that it is therefore important to define its role in the system in advance.
Raya Strauss, chairperson of ‘Partnership 2000,’ related her personal experience as a Nahariya resident, noting that in the past it was clear to everyone that you don’t leave your house and you keep on working even under fire. Mrs. Strauss spoke of the need to harness civil society and the business sector to the civil resilience network and to “return to a reality in which people have responsibilities and know they do not leave their home.”
Limor Aharonson-Daniel, head of the Center for Research of Preparedness and Response to Emergencies and Disasters at Ben-Gurion University, said that after the March 25, 2010 round-table event hosted and moderated by the Reut Institute, the Israel Trauma Coalition, and the Home Front Command, the faculty of Masters in Emergency Medicine at the Ben-Gurion University decided to start a pilot in the city of Be’er-Sheva in cooperation with, the local authority and the Home Front Command. The pilot will provide specific training for approximately 2,000 students, enabling them to assist the Home Front Command and the local authority in communicating with and providing assistance to the civilian population.
The Reut Institute thanks MK Bielski for initiating the discussion and for inviting us to present the conceptual framework. We hope that this discussion is only the first step in elevating the subject of crisis preparedness in the public sphere.