In a stirring essay by Israeli David M. Weinberg, a government/foreign affairs think-tank director originally from Canada, he questions if the world knows the real Israel.
The UN continues to slander Israel with reports containing ugly charges of “ethnic cleansing,” “apartheid” and other fictitious atrocities against the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, in the real world, Israeli doctors continue to treat thousands of Palestinians in Israeli hospitals and conduct world-class humanitarian medical work around the world.
Israeli hospitals regularly take in patients from across the Middle East, including Arab countries that have no diplomatic relations with Israel, and from the Palestinian-controlled areas. For example, one-quarter of the patients in the Safra Children’s Hospital at the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer are Palestinian kids from Gaza with cancer or congenital heart ailments.
Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem plays a similar role for West Bank Palestinians. The Children’s Hospital at the Wolfson Medical Center in Holon also treats many Palestinian patients, as well as children with heart defects from across the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Palestinians receive treatment in Israel even though the Palestinian Authority (PA) takes only very partial, occasional financial responsibility for them and the patients themselves can’t afford to pay. Israeli charities and the hospitals themselves often end up covering or absorbing the costs.
Palestinian leaders and their family members, including Hamas chieftains, get the best medical care in Israel even though they constantly issue the most bloodcurdling libels about Israeli “apartheid” and they plot Israel’s demise.
Israeli hospitals bravely and honorably persist in their open-door approach to humanitarian treatment. Of course, you wouldn’t know about this from international media or UN reports.
Israeli medical humanitarianism extends much further afield too. Israeli doctors are very active and experienced in delivering medical assistance beyond Israel’s boundaries.
Remember the outstanding Israeli Army (IDF) medical mission in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake? Over the years, Israel orthopedic rehabilitation physicians and physiotherapists made a dozen trips to Haiti, working in impossible conditions to treat more than four thousand Haitians who lost limbs in the disaster. Together with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and Magen David Adom, they ran a full-scale “Haitian-Israeli Rehabilitation Center” at the University Hospital in Port-au-Prince.
Such Israeli humanitarian missions abound. For example, Israeli burn experts were the first to arrive in Romania to treat babies in critical condition after a horrible fire in a Bucharest hospital; the first to arrive in the Congo after a massive fuel tanker explosion; among the first to send aid to Japan and to Kashmir after a series of earthquakes; the first to send (over 150 tons of) aid to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines after a series of tsunamis; and much more. Often this involves IDF doctors too, who can erect a fully equipped field hospital in under 24 hours.
Israeli doctors have provided international relief and medical training in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Georgia, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Mauritania, Mongolia, Myanmar, Peru, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan–to name just a few countries.
Breakthrough Israeli technologies also play a humanitarian role. Sheba/Safra Children’s Hospital now offers remote home monitoring of pediatric cardiac patients in medically underserved communities such as Gaza, Iraq, Kurdistan and Cyprus. An Israeli company called Illumigyn has distributed 20,000 gynescope units across Africa–a first-of-its-kind fully remote gynecological imaging platform–to improve early diagnosis and detection of cervical cancer.
Israel actively has assisted many countries in confronting the continuing COVID crisis, from Argentina and Uruguay to Eswatini (Swaziland) and India. An Israeli NGO sent 3,800 oxygen concentrators to rural clinics, hospitals and health centers in India overwhelmed by corona. The Israeli government flew tons of oxygen generators, respirators, and medications to India, too.
And yes, during the first months of the pandemic Israel did everything in its power and its purse to assist the PA in fighting coronavirus too. But in mid-2020 the PA announced a boycott of all assistance from or through Israel, for any budgetary, humanitarian, or other need. It even rejected receipt of two planes-full of coronavirus aid from the UAE because the planes delivering the cargo landed at Ben-Gurion Airport.
Instead, PA spokesmen spread the canard that Israeli troops at checkpoints purposefully infected Palestinians with corona, and that other Israelis spit deathly corona droplets on Palestinian car door handles and windshields. (This is not too far from the classic anti-Semitic trope about Jews poisoning the wells in Europe.)
Nevertheless, Israel has tried to help the PA. And on the sly, the PA has allowed its doctors to take training at Israeli hospitals about best practices for treating corona patients.
All of Israel’s medical humanitarian activities stem from an abiding concern for healing and compassion that is ingrained in Jewish tradition, and from the State of Israel’s commitment to being a force for progress and brotherhood in the world.
But again, you wouldn’t know any of this from international media or UN reports. What a shame.