Jewish and Arab health professionals unite in solidarity

May 17, 2021

Medical staff at hospitals in Israel call for peaceful coexistence and cooperation between Jews and Arabs against the backdrop of growing conflict.

“”Medical staff at hospitals up and down the country have come together in solidarity to call for peaceful coexistence and cooperation between Jewish and Arab medical personnel during trying times. Staff at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya, and Emek Medical Center in Afula, have all taken part in initiatives to try to promote unity.

At Sheba, the staff which consists of both Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses, came together for a special assembly to stress the importance of solidarity and cooperation in times of crisis.

Israeli pop star Miri Mesika also came to express her solidarity with Sheba’s staff efforts, as did presumed presidential candidate Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons during their service in the Israel Defense Forces. “You see things that hurt you, I see things that hurt me. Restraint. Restraint and self-control are what’s needed at this time,״ Peretz told the medical staff at Sheba on Thursday. Standing next to an Arab staff member named Lena, Peretz praised her professionalism and dedication.

“When Lena is treating a patient, she puts aside her religious identity, she puts aside her ‘team’, and all that matters to her is to be professional, and to be a human being,” said Peretz. At Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, the mixed staff launched a joint social media campaign showcasing Jews and Arabs working together, displaying messages of peace in Hebrew and in Arabic.

In a special message to the staff, Rambam Director General Dr. Michael Halbertal stressed the importance of solidarity and cooperation, urging them not to lose sight of the hospital staff’s main goal – helping people.

In his letter, he wrote: “Rambam is a hospital where members of all sects and religions work side by side to achieve one single goal – helping our patients heal, and making their stay as easy as possible.

“I strive, hope, and believe that Rambam, as a family consisting of many different individuals, will remain a bastion of sanity inside this complex reality around us, just as we have proven to be during all the difficult challenges we’ve faced together in recent years. We built a special home here, which we maintain as a harmonious and inclusive place, which I personally, am proud to be a part of.”

Staff at Nahariya’s Galilee Medical Center, which is home to Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Christian and Druze staff, put their thoughts into a video clip calling for unity, set to the song, “Ein li Eretz Aheret,” (I have no other country).

The medical center is the largest hospital, and the largest employer, in the Galilee region of northern Israel. It is run by Prof. Masad Barhoum, who was the first Arab doctor to be selected director of a government hospital in Israel.

“We hope our video will help promote a message of peaceful coexistence, tolerance, and brotherhood among all and that calm will return as soon as possible,” the hospital said in a statement to ISRAEL21c.

Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Bedouin and Circassian staff at Emek Medical Center in Afula also gathered for a group photograph outside the hospital’s Emergency Rooms, to take a breather from the chaos in Israel, and to show their unity.

“What you see is the Emek answer to blind hatred and what you can’t hear is their singing,” said Larry Rich, Director of Development at the hospital. “It’s loud and it’s joyous, accentuated with pain and trepidation, and with every Middle Eastern accent you can think of.

“If we don’t focus on these little flickering sparks of people doing something right, then we risk being swept away,” he added.

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