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'Virus shouldn't separate China from the world'

chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-21 12:16

Anti-Beijing sentiments not helping, says Israeli celeb who sent 100,000 masks for Wuhan

Raz Galor, an Israeli alumnus of Peking University, has warmed many Chinese hearts by helping organize medical relief for Wuhan — capital of Hubei province and epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak — and other neighboring areas.

Galor, a 26-year-old Israeli social media celebrity, has more than 1.3 million fans on Weibo — where he is better known by his Chinese name Gao Yousi — thanks to his videos on YChina, a program highlighting expat life in China.

A recent video showing him send 100,000 surgical masks to China went viral on social media. In an exclusive conversation with China Daily Galor shares his experience of collecting and shipping these medical requirements from Israel.

Helping hands 7,000 km away from China

Galor first got to know that medical supplies were in short supply in Hubei on Jan 25, or Chuyi, the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. He was in Tel Aviv but decided to do something to help the country that was his home for 12 years. "The least we could do was to send medical supplies," Galor said. Within hours he and a friend got cracking. "We tapped people on the streets, pharmacies, hospitals and businessmen to get enough supplies."

They thought 5,000 was a decent number of surgical masks to arrange in a small country like Israel. However, in a very short time, they managed to collect a lot more. "We ended up getting 100,000 masks. And some other things too."

His father, Amir Gal Or, chairman of Infinity and Innonation and president of the China-Israel Chamber of Commerce, who has contacts in the medical, business and public relations industries, also stepped in to help.

"China has helped Israel so many times. So it was only natural that we do everything possible, there was no question about that," Amir said. That sure helped.

With help from the China-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Galor's team reached out to people who guided them on how to purchase quality medical supplies.

"Israel's largest hospital, Sheba Hospital, referred us to their warehouse, a company called Kodam Medicom," said Galor, emphasizing how lucky they were. "Very lucky indeed. The last 100,000 masks were available for sale at the hospital. We also got 50,000 pairs of gloves and a couple of medical robes."

In fact their difficulties began after they had collected all the medical equipment, on Jan 31, when the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency and many airlines called off their flights to China.

"There was no way to get to China," said Galor. They made phone calls to whoever they thought could help but got no guarantees. "Flights were getting cancelled by the hour. Nobody could tell us how or when we would be able to send the materials."

But they kept trying and finally reached Cainiao, Alibaba's logistic platform operator, who offered to ship their supplies to China for free via Moscow.

Galor breathed easy only three days later when the medical consignment was all packed up and ready at the airport warehouse to be sent to China.

"I barely slept those days. I was very nervous," Galor said. "I was worried all our effort would ultimately go to waste."

Some 100,000 surgical masks, 50,00 pairs of medical gloves and 7,000 surgical gowns finally arrived in Huanggang, the second-worst hit city in Hubei, on Feb 9.

Being able to help from 7,000 kilometers away made Galor realize that difficulties are no obstacle "if you really have a good heart and want to help people."

Anti-China movements not really helping

In a video from Tel Aviv, Galor said he and his friends are paying close attention to the epidemic situation and want to do all they can for their Chinese friends.

"Whenever an individual, community or country faces a problem and lacks basic equipment, or needs psychological support, the people who really care should stand by them," Galor said, adding that the anti-China sentiment around the globe is "not really helping".

"We shouldn't let the virus separate China from the world." Any behavior to stigmatize China and Chinese culture is "very disgusting". He hoped people would try "to create another voice that shows the real situation and tells us to be more open to solutions than to separations."

Quoting John Lennon he said he hoped, or imagined, "all the people… sharing all the world".

To give a voice to the voiceless

The popular YChina program Galor anchors showcases a vibrant China to the world through discussions by expats about Chinese culture and latest trends in the country.

After graduating from Peking University, Galor spent more than a decade studying and working in China. He realizes China is one of the cultures most likely to be stereotyped "because of how different and unique and, maybe, mysterious and complicated it is".

What struck him most about China were the people he met there, the truly ordinary people. "If my team and I try to make the world understand China better, we will definitely have to start with the stories, the untold stories of its people", seldom reported by the media.

"But it's only through these people that you can really get a grasp of the real China," Galor said. In fact that is the reason why his work often focuses on unknown groups. "Giving a voice to the voiceless," he quotes Joaquin Phoenix, who just won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Joker, to explain what his team is doing for China. He wants to help "the world see a more diverse and real side of China".

Galor also wants everybody to pay special attention to the medical staff working on the front line in the fight against the epidemic. "It's they who are fighting day and night to save our lives," he said. "We won't notice how much they make an impact on our lives until we see it."

Reporter: Wang Yu, Hu Yumeng, Fu Huimin

Video: Wang Yu, Hu Yumeng, Fu Huimin

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