Sunday, March 04, 2012

4-Mar-12: Dealing (or not) with the problems of a sick society

Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek hospital got its start
in 1902
A considerable number of notables are among the tens of thousands of Palestinian Arabs who have undergone life-saving surgery in Israel's hospitals during the past two decades. They include ministers in one or another of the Palestinian governments, as well as a former mufti of Jerusalem.

Many dozens of Palestinian Arab physicians get advanced training in Israeli hospitals every year - up to and including today. On an ongoing basis, many of them seek the advice and counsel  of Israeli professional colleagues in treating patients who have been admitted to Palestinian Arab hospitals, and vice versa. There should be nothing jaw-dropping about this - it's what you expect under normal circumstances.

A penetrating analysis by the Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh - an uncommonly courageous voice in this region, as we have noted numerous times in the past - appeared two days ago on the Stonegate Institute website. Entitled "The Hate Business", it begins by describing how thousands of Palestinian Arab patients get medical treatment in Israeli hospitals each year - but a visit by Israeli physicians to Ramallah last week was met with malevolent, even furious, opposition.
The Shaare Zedek Medical Center campus
about ten years ago. From personal experience,
we can testify to the relatively low-friction interaction
of Arabs and Jews in this and every other
Israeli hospital, and to the high quality
of Shaare Zedek's medicine and professional care.
"The Israeli physicians arrived in Ramallah as part of a tour that was organized by the Palestinian Authority... [Their presence] drew furious reactions from the workers at the medical compound and many Palestinians, including the Western-backed Fatah faction headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian fury over the visit of the Israeli medical team to Ramallah is a sign of increased radicalization among Palestinians. It is also a severe blow to those Israelis and Palestinians who continue to talk about coexistence and peace between the two sides... Fatah activists in Ramallah denounced the tour as a form of "normalization" with Israel... [but] if anyone stands to lose from boycotting Israeli physicians it is the Palestinians themselves. Because the Palestinian Authority has not invested enough in improving medical services in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past two decades, many Palestinians continue to rely on Israel for proper medical treatment... Palestinians who are opposed to "normalization" with Israeli physicians are the victims of years of indoctrination and messages of hate emanating from their leaders and media. And some Palestinians have become so enriched by hatred that it it would not pay for them to stop."
The whole article is worth reading. It's yet another reminder for those who prefer to look the other way that much of the conflict that embitters lives on both sides of the Arab/Israel divide is driven by hatred, pure and simple. A hatred, it must be said, that is entirely asymmetrical, as attested to by the sounds of spoken Arabic in hospital wards throughout Israel.

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