by Robert Rinder

Of all of the privileges that you get for being in the public eye, the best one in every sense is bringing light to charities and organisations that people would otherwise not know about.

I remember my first conversation with Daniel Burger some years ago. “MDA… it’s the ambulance service, isn’t it?” “Yes” he replied, “but did you know that it isn’t funded by the Israeli government, but by the International diaspora?” I had no idea – in many senses it’s unthinkable. A nation with the most obvious demand for frontline medical services.

It made no sense. But on reflection it made all the sense in the world. That we, Jewish communities around the world and within Israel itself, understand so fundamentally the threats to ourselves and each other. Making it natural that we would fund MDA’s frontline services.

And so I began my quest to discover the work of Magen David Adom. With each new example, each new piece of evidence of their work, something even more critical emerged. A realisation not just how obviously essential the services they provide are; be it the provision of blood or responding to emergencies. But that they are an example of something more powerful, more rich and important, now more than ever. Their work alongside otherwise hostile partners, to cross lines and deliver blood and critical first aid. The advances in technology, which make MDA the most advanced and innovative ambulance service in the world; and how each service is funded through a community’s shared understanding and fundamental belief in the importance of life.

For me, MDA has become the most articulate expression of how I respond to anybody whose views on Israel have tipped into antisemitism, which has become tragically and frighteningly pervasive in the past decade. It’s with this in mind that I had the gift of going to Jordan to walk alongside those raising funds for this essential charity. It was the very essence of a simcha, a collective group of people walking proudly in joy with one another. Culminating for me in a meeting with the President of the Jordan National Red Crescent Society, HE Dr Mohammed Al-Hadid, who spoke so powerfully about the possibilities of peace when enemies begin to work as partners and come to rely on one another. It’s hard to think of a better expression of light and hope than that. All of which is embodied in MDA.

What a gift it is, was and shall continue to be, to champion MDA’s incredible, magical work.