Israel at War: Confronting Trauma and Helping the Hostages

We continue to monitor developing needs and assisting in coordination of support to Israel in these difficult times.

As was foreseen, this will be a long crisis with emerging needs. We are now in the 18th day of war and there’s no end in sight. Needless to say, even if the war finished today with the complete destruction of Hamas, there would still be needs for months and years ahead.

Here are the most current updates and areas of focus (you can check previous updates here – as their message is still relevant):

  • One area we recommend prioritizing is the plight of the hostages and their families. Today, JFN hosted a webinar with the Hostage and Missing Families Forum, the organization that serves as the coordinating body and clearing house for all efforts related to the abductees. You can watch the video here. Please note that given the crisis, we’re making JFN members-only videos available for the entire community for a week after publication.
  • The needs of the Forum can be divided in several areas: PR efforts (campaigns in 30 cities around the world, traditional and social media); diplomatic pressure (especially on governments like Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia); support to the families (medical, psychological, and economic); support of the abductees themselves (for example, there is a database with their medical information, and efforts via the Red Cross to provide them the support they need). There’s urgency in this work, as every expert says that time plays against the wellbeing of the hostages and the possibility of bringing them home.
  • People are encouraged to mount campaigns in their cities, but also to coordinate with the Forum. One thing that was made clear is that the Forum is still organizing itself and things are evolving – yet, there’s “order in the chaos,” and it’s important to make sure that efforts are aligned. Technical but important: the Forum is now a registered amuta, which means that they can receive tax deductible funds from American foundations and nonprofits (JFN, PEF, and others can serve as conduits).
  • Communal campaigns, like that of JFNA, are continuing apace. I was pleased to hear that JFNA is getting close to reaching its campaign goal; but needs are still acute.
  • I’ve spoken of the issue of trauma before, and the extent of the needs in this area are becoming clear. Besides the initial response, there’s now a need to provide long-term treatment for affected people. For example, NATAL wants to ensure that every affected person that needs it can get a minimum of 12 sessions. But the needs are going to go beyond the initial circle. Thousand of IDF soldiers have seen horrific sights, people in Ashkelon have spent an inordinate amount of time in shelters, ZAKA employees and volunteers are emotionally scarred, etc. There will be a need for a national trauma plan spanning five or ten years. JFN Is convening a peer network of funders to start plotting a systemic response to this effort. Please contact us if you’re interested.
  • There’s a growing need of support for small and midsize businesses in Israel, as much of the economic activity of the country is stopped. While the government has promised to come up with relief funds, it’s time to start looking at organizations that support that sector, like OGEN, that provides interest-free loans. Simultaneously, many families that are hosting evacuees are feeling the economic pressure, and both the government and nonprofits are getting organized to help. Incidentally, one of the reasons why we discourage people to send donations in kind to Israel is because buying them in Israel provides business and income to Israeli companies, big and small.
  • Hospitals still need support, as many are moving operating rooms and ICU units to underground facilities. Also, mobile ICU units are being deployed near the front lines.
  • Communities around Gaza are organizing their recovery. One critical aspect is that many of them lost their leadership in the attacks (in Israel, many small towns and communities have “community directors” that help organize communal life). Several organizations, like Tnu’a Israelit, IsraAID and Chevra Lematnasim are stepping in, trying to help those communities organize, even while they’re still displaced.
  • Local authorities and municipalities are now getting organized, delivering support to their residents and filling gaps left by the central government. City foundations and municipal funds are a good way to support them.
  • Finally, as you probably see, hear, and feel, the battle for hearts and minds is getting uglier and harder. Yet many organizations are producing excellent material. I’ve shared with you some examples in the past. Today I want to highlight two of them, Fuente Latina , which deals with the key constituency of Spanish speaking populations, and Israel Unpacked, a project of OpenDor Media, which produces great materials.

As you can imagine, JFN is receiving many calls and requests from both members and nonprofits doing work on the ground. We want to answer each and every call. In order to streamline the process, we ask that those sharing needs and projects use our special email address [email protected], and members of JFN looking for information, connections, or advice use our recently created Concierge Service, where they’ll be able to find support and advice customized to their specific needs.

Continue to check our website for an evolving list of vetted ways to support agencies and nonprofits in the US and Israel.

I continue to be awed by the response of the philanthropic community, and above all, by the courage, resilience, and determination of our Israeli brethren. As I was hearing today of the amazing work being done by those supporting the families of the hostages, I had the innermost conviction that a people like ours, bound together by unbreakable bonds of care and solidarity, can never and will never be defeated.

Stay strong and stay safe.

Together, always,