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Sri Lanka, Israel and Tsunami Aid

In recent weeks, ADL has repeatedly been asked for information on a rumor circulated by e-mail and word of mouth that claims the Sri Lankan government has refused to accept Tsunami relief from Israel, ostensibly to "boycott" the Jewish State. This rumor, which has origins in the confused aftermath of the disaster, is completely false.  Israel has provided, and continues to send large amounts of financial aid, relief supplies and emergency teams to Sri Lanka and other nations affected by the disaster, which have been accepted without objection.  Sri Lankan government officials have publicly praised Israel's response and have thanked Israeli and Jewish leaders for the much-needed help.

Background

In the mass confusion that followed the earliest hours of the disaster, some countries -- Sri Lanka among them -- requested that aid and assistance be limited to supplies and relief material and that no foreign military personnel enter the affected country. 

Since Israel was, commendably, among the first countries to offer disaster assistance, the initial reaction in which Sri Lanka turned down an Israeli offer to send military personnel to help with search-and-rescue efforts was mistakenly interpreted by some to be directed solely toward Israel.

Upon receiving news of the deadly disaster in Southeast Asia, Israel's Foreign Ministry set aside $100,000 in aid for each of the countries hit by the Tsunami and four top doctors were dispatched to Sri Lanka at the Ministry's request.

A second plane from Israel, carrying 85 tons of emergency aid material, landed in Sri Lanka and Indonesia on January 10th. The next day a delegation of five kitchen workers, who set up an emergency food kitchen, and nine medical personnel arrived. An additional delegation of medical personnel, specializing in trauma, landed later that day to provide a weeklong seminar to local professionals.

At a January 12 meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to the U.N., His Excellency Mr. Bernard A.B. Goonetilleke, praised Israel for the aid it has provided since the onset of this disaster.

It should further be noted that Israel and Sri Lanka have diplomatic ties and since the disaster, the Israel Foreign Ministry's Director General has traveled to Sri Lanka, where he met with the Sri Lanka Prime Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister, to discuss ways to continue providing aid from Israel.

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