|Prof. Eid Ahmed, Head of Surgery at Hadassah Hospital|
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein in his latest contribution to CrossCurrents has praised the way Arabs and Jews get along at Hadassah Hospital. In fact he went so far as to note:
It was a shock to some people there, that after a while they had their favorite Arab physician or nurse, whom they preferred at times over some of the Jewish staff.
I was not surprised to see him say that. A few years ago there was a segment on 60 Minutes that showed exactly that kind of atmosphere. Arab and Jewish doctors would get along as equals without the slightest hint of any animosity. It was as though there were no Arab-Israeli conflict at all.
The message of that show was that this is what Israel could look like if this attitude would spread. The idea was that if it exists in this hospital it could exist anywhere. It was inspiring to see the potential Hadassah represented.
I recall an additional example of that from another hospital in Israel: Shaare Tzedek. The life of young woman that was critically wounded in a suicide bombing a few years ago was saved by one of their Arab surgeons. Yet another inspiring and hopeful event.
I thought Israel could look like this if only all that Arabs and Jews interacted with each other the way these doctors, nurses, and their patients did.
But the reality is not ike that. As we have all learned the hard way. Not that all Arabs are terrorists. Nor do they all hate us. But there is probably a lot more hatred out there than love. Enough so that when some of the more aggressive Islamist type Arabs commit any form of terror (which has again reared its ugly head in the form of numerous arsonist fires in Israel) far too many of them cheer. One need not search too long to find a YouTube video showing Burka draped Muslim women on the West Bank celebrating a terrorist attack against Israel (or the US as was the case immediately after 9/11).
The reason for this is unfortunately all too easy to see. Arabs as a matter of culture preach and teach hatred of Israel, and ‘the Jews’. They do it from cradle to grave in all forms: Schools mosques, political leaders, news media, and entertainment. That kind of indoctrination takes a great deal of ‘deprogramming’ to overcome. I guess medical school and nursing school do a fairly decent job of doing that – when combined with the actual experience of treating patients in the dual cultural atmosphere of a hospital.
There has been some renewed talk of reviving the peace process by the incoming Trump administration. If I understand correctly, Donald Trump has said that he would like to give it a shot. And he is said to be considering his son in law, Jared Kushner for the job.
I have been saying for some time now that I don’t think it’s possible under current conditions. They cannot let go of the hate. It permeates the thinking of all those that have the greatest influence on their culture (as mentioned above). The violence that generates has made Israel’s security needs impact very negatively on the lives of its Arab residents on the West Bank. A peace deal under these conditions is impossible. I therefore don’t see how anyone – even the great ‘dealmaker’ can ever change the current unfavorable conditions into favorable ones.
Unless maybe we can turn all Israelis and Arabs into either doctors, nurses, or patients and turn the country into one big hospital.
I guess what I am really saying is that if anyone is going to try and make peace between Israel and the Palestinians, it would be a good idea to look at what’s going on in places like Hadassah. And then figure out how to spread that to the entire population.
What about the extremist Kahane types from the religious Zionist camp who have a similar hatred of all Arabs? They need to be dealt with as well. I may be naive but I truly believe that if there would be no Arab animosity to us, they would stop their hateful ways to them as well. I will never forget a PBS documentary from the 80s. It was about settlers in Chevron. They clearly wanted to get along with the Arabs of that area. It was the Arabs of Chevron that wanted the Jews out. (That is now the case more than ever. I don’t think that any Jews should be there under those conditions. But that is the subject of another post.)
The point is that even hard core settlers just want to get along with their Arab neighbors. That these communities have produced the Baruch Goldsteins and Yigal Amirs of the world is a direct result of that hatred. Hate generated violence just breeds more hate generated violence. Especially when the antagonists are in such close proximity. And often it is the innocent that suffer the most.
I have said many times that the components of a future peace settlement are already there. We kind of know what a peace settlement would look like. It would probably look kind of like ‘Oslo’. What about Jews that still want to live in places like Chevron? If there is no hatred - a very important ‘if’ - I think they should be able to at some point in the future, although they will have to live under Palestinian rule. But unless the hatred can be eliminated - as it has been in the abovementioned hospital setting – it cannot and must not happen. And as things stand now, I don’t think it’s even possible.