In a meeting held last week in Los Angeles between Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and Sean Penn it was agreed that the State of Israel would collaborate with the American actor and director in aid efforts at disaster zones across the globe.
Penn stands at the head of a humanitarian association that offers aid to victims of the Haiti earthquake as well as other disasters around the world. Penn resides in Haiti for four months of the year offering aid to the locals who are still affected by the earthquake.
It was in Haiti that Penn became familiar with Israeli aid officials who still operate in Haiti to this day.
In the meeting with Penn, Ayalon invited the renowned actor to visit Israel. Penn accepted the invitation and it was decided that during his trip he would make a visit to MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation and to Magen David Adom and would examine how best to collaborate with Israeli aid organizations. At first cooperation would focus on Haiti, but would then expand to other countries.
The visit will take place in a few months and according to Penn, will be his first to the Holy Land, in spite of the fact that his father is Jewish and would be happy to cooperate with Israel on humanitarian aid efforts.
Speaking to Ayalon Penn praised Israel and said that in Haiti Israel demonstrated amazing capabilities and was the first country at the scene of the disaster working with a great deal of efficiency.
Penn ran a refugee camp in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital where tens of thousands of people whose homes were destroyed were cared for. He operated medical teams, established schools and raised funds for the quake hit Island. Among his partners were Israeli aid groups IsraAid and PRODEB.
Penn said in the past that what the Israelis brought to Haiti was something that the US should take lessons from. He noted that national service should be obligatory in the US, not specifically military service but organized voluntary work.
Penn added that that kind of work gives people character and discipline. He said that Israelis were an inspiration to him and asked: Why should Israelis have to be the ones to come to Haiti when there is so much to do in Israel.