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Treating Syrian Casualties in Israel

Treating Syrian Casualties in Israel

Dr. Massad Barhoum Speaks at AIPAC

The video embedded at the bottom of the post is of Dr. Massad Barhoum, the medical director of the Western Galilee Medical Center, one of three Israeli hospitals to treat Syrians wounded in that country’s civil war. He tells of how his hospital was informed by the IDF that they would be receiving Syrian casualties.

He gives the background of his hospital too. It is six miles from Lebanon and has come under rocket fire. It serves the 600,000 residents of the Galilee – Jews, Christians, Muslims and Druze – that make up the “tapestry” of the population in northern Israel. He also explains that there’s an extra worry the Syrians have when they find themselves in Israel – that they are alone with no support system.

Dr. Barhoum speaks with empathy of those patients who, all of a sudden, find themselves receiving help from a country they have been taught to hate.

The whole talk is worth listening to. Dr. Barhoum speaks well and is direct but understated. But here are three quotes that stood out:

  • “Who are these wounded? These mysterious patients who travel in secret, the whole story is wrapped in melodrama, victims of war seeking medical salvation at the hands of their sworn enemies. Yet when they past through the gates of my hospital, the cease to be Syrians. Just as when we walk through the gates we cease to be Jews, Muslims, or, like me, an Arab Christian. They are patients, we are caregivers and nothing else matters.”
  • “Arriving unconscious they awoke to a strange language and the sudden terrifying realization that they are in Israel. For every patient this fright, this mistrust is natural. They have been saved by the Israel they have been told to fear and hate. But I have seen this terror dissolve into trust, to appreciation and thanks for the Israeli doctors who saved their lives.”
  • “… But still we help. Israel’s decision to provide medical care to Syrians in their time of need is recognition of a shared humanity and compassion. That to us has no race, no ethnicity, and no borders.”

Dr. Barhoum’s theme, could be whittled down to a single sentence. Actually, it’s one that he said in regards to another remarkable episode that his hospital was involved in. Last summer an Ethiopian boy was mauled by a hyena in his village. A number of connections were made and the boy was transferred to Western Galilee Medical Center where he received life saving surgery.

When interviewed by Israel21C, Dr. Barhoum said, “It is Israel’s nature to help whoever can be helped.”

[Photo: AIPAC / BrightCove ]


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