President Reuven Rivlin was presented on Thursday with a special issue of the prestigious medical journal, The Lancet, dedicated to Israel’s healthcare system and medical innovations in the country.
The special issue was the fruit of a focused effort to persuade the editors that their anti-Israel stance was based on propaganda, and that the medical realities are entirely different from that described and denounced in years of articles and letters in the Lancet.
The Lancet had long promoted the fiction that Israeli medical facilities were “discriminatory” against Arab and Palestinian patients.
During the last Gaza war, a letter appeared in the journal defaming Israeli’s medical establishment. It triggered an outraged response from Israeli doctors. One letter, in particular, caught the attention of Lancet editor-in-chief, Prof. Richard Horton. It was written by Prof. Kark Skorecki, director of medical and research development at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa.
Although Horton had visited Arab and Muslim countries, he had never been to Israel, apparently because the Foreign Ministry wrote him off as an implacable foe.
But Skorecki and Rambam director-general Prof. Rafael Beyar believed it was worth a try, and invited him to view first-hand Israel’s medical system. Horton accepted the invitation, and that changed everything.
“At Rambam, I saw an inspiring model of partnership between Jews and Arabs in a part of Israel where 40 percent of the population is Arab. I saw Rambam offering an open hand, gladly grasped by families from Gaza, [ Yehuduh and Shomron] and Syria, who were living with life-threatening health-care needs,” Horton wrote in The Lancet after his 2014 visit.
“In the fall of that year, we took him to medical facilities all over the North, and he was very impressed. He realized he had been wrong about Israel,” Clarfield recalled. “He knew much more about Somalia than the Middle East.”
Rivlin thanked all concerned in the project, and noted, “I am proud that you have seen – and that your readers will see – the dedication of Israeli doctors and nurses; Arabs, Jews, religious and secular. They treat everyone together. There is no difference between blood, there is no difference between life.”
Dr. Horton praised Israeli medical achievements, and said:
“We want to see Israel as a global society, extending international engagement and development cooperation with the rest of the world. This series and I personally utterly reject the boycott against Israel. Boycotts are no way to deal with difference of opinion. Boycotts entrench prejudice and hate, they perpetuate difference and we reject utterly that approach to discussing differences of opinion between communities and peoples,” Horton concluded.