NEWSLETTER JULY 2019
NEWSLETTER JULY 2019
EDITORIAL – ARE WE REALLY SO FAR APART?
BY MARK S. ANSHAN
In its February 2017 report Heroes of Health: Israel’s Healthcare System as a Model of Jewish-Arab Coexistence, the Israel Religious Action Center makes the following point about the importance of healthcare as a bridge to better relations between Israelis and Palestinians:
“The lives of Jews and Arabs in the state of Israel are carried out, in almost all fields, in complete segregation: separate living areas, separate education systems… and in the world of business.
“Against this background, the public healthcare system stands out. In hospital hallways… an alternate reality prevails: Arabs and Jews work together for hours and days, during long and exhausting shifts, as one team.”
Palestinian healthcare workers – particularly doctors and nurses – are serving in Israeli hospitals, caring for all patients. Project Rozana is funding an increasing number of these workers – as well as mental health therapists – through training that is designed to enhance their skills and build the capacity of the Palestinian healthcare system.
The long-term aim is less dependence on the Israeli system, and a standard of healthcare in the Palestinian territories that is the equal of Israel.
It is in this space that Project Rozana is providing clear evidence that regular contact between Israelis and Palestinians in the area of healthcare – where the focus is to maximize successful patient outcomes – is the long-term solution to achieving a peaceful coexistence between these two communities.
To witness the truly amazing relationships between Israeli and Arab/Palestinian healthcare workers gives great hope that the current situation will be overcome.
This became very clear to those of us who had the privilege to visit the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod in February.
Project Rozana initiated a training project between Assuta and Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for the training of health professionals to provide peritoneal dialysis to Palestinian patients. Thirty of us were at the meeting – Project Rozana leaders, the CEO, doctors and staff of Assuta, the CEO, his doctors and staff of Augusta Victoria – discussing the next steps in the implementation of the project. We toured Assuta, had lunch and made strong, personal connections. The picture of the two CEOs sitting next to each other at the head of the table, facilitating the meeting and connecting directly for the first time, was an inspiring and emotional event. The healthcare professionals talking about the training needs and details for implementing the program conversed as if they had been working together for years.
The day after our time at Assuta, we met with senior medical staff at Rambam Hospital in Haifa. There too, (like Sheba Hospital, Hadassah Hospital, Wolfson Hospital and other major medical centers), Rambam continues to provide critical care for Palestinian patients and training for Palestinian medical professionals. Our meeting was the first with Rambam to explore the possibility of Project Rozana supporting training programs.
The connections that Project Rozana is helping to make between Israeli and Palestinian healthcare workers is contributing significantly to an already well established system of cooperation and support, for meeting the healthcare challenges faced daily by Palestinians.
Project Rozana addresses three timely and critical needs:
- The treatment of Palestinian patients who require care in Israel that is not available in the Palestine territory.
- Transportation of Palestinian patients to Israeli hospitals, and
- The training of Palestinian healthcare workers that will enhance much needed healthcare capacity.
This is happening against the background of continuing conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbor. The Oslo Accords were meant to be the beginning of the process to achieve peace. The situation, since 1993 has, with great sadness, moved in the opposite direction. The lack of creative, progressive, visionary political leadership has resulted in ongoing conflict informed by policies and actions that are contrary to realizing a mutually-agreed settlement.
Project Rozana is helping to build and strengthen the bridge to peace through health. This is the one area of civil society that has no barriers. And where the ultimate objective of caring for all regardless of who they are, is leading to building and sustaining relationships among people.
Mark S. Anshan, Chair, Project Rozana Canada
HAND-IN-HAND DINNER REACHES OUT
It’s hard to imagine that on a balmy night in Sydney, Australia in late May – thousands of kilometers away from one of the most conflicted regions in the world – we were able to bring to life the reality that Israelis and Palestinians face on a daily basis.
This is the summary of Project Rozana Australia’s first major fundraising dinner by the organization’s Executive Director, Ruth Ramone Rosen. It brought together communal, religious, political and diplomatic leaders along with interested others.
The event was an opportunity to explore the story of the people who provide world-first healthcare, and those who require that standard of care to live full and productive lives.
It was possible because of two remarkable individuals – one Israeli, one Palestinian.
The first, Professor Esti Galili-Weisstub, is an acclaimed Israeli child and adolescent psychiatrist, one of the most in-demand therapists in her field. The second, Dr A. Abdel-Rahman, is a highly-regarded physiotherapist who runs an organisation based in Hebron that is having a significant impact on the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank.
Pictured above, l-r: Hugh Rimington, Dr Jamal Rifi AM, Mrs and Mr Izzat Abdulhadi ( Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific), Ron Finkel AM, Dr Abdel-Rahmen, Prof Galili-Weisstub
Professor Galili and Dr Abdel-Rahmen track different paths but where their work intersects, in programs funded by Project Rozana, the relationship is powerful and purposeful. On that night in May, it provided a moment of clarity for those of us who want to see profound, systemic change in the future for all people in this region.
It was also the first time that many of the leaders publicly joined with their like-minded counterparts to express a belief that change is possible if we walk hand-in-hand with a shared purpose.
In addition to the speeches and bonhomie, three short videos were shown,
- ‘So I Can Live: Abdallah’s Journey’, a brief and moving exploration of Road to Recovery, a Project Rozana-funded program. This is mentored in the West Bank by Dr Abdel-Rahman’s organisation, the Green Land Society for Health Development.
- An insight into the Jerusalem-based Binational School of Psychotherapy. This is founded by Esti and a game-changer in the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian children suffering from PTSD.
- A news report from SBS TV, Australia’s multicultural and multilingual broadcaster.
Professor Galili and Dr Abdul Rahmen also participated in a radio interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Patricia Karvelas on Radio National.
Powerful testimony came from David Gonski AC, a co-patron of the event. David’s passionate call for support on the night beautifully expresses the essence of Project Rozana, and the reason why it has, in six short years, morphed from an Australian charitable initiative to one that is active in the United States, Canada and Israel.
Money raised from the dinner will support the Binational School of Psychotherapy, Road to Recovery, and medical training fellowships. Fellowships provide Palestinian doctors and therapists with the opportunity to work alongside highly-experienced Israelis. They expand their skills for the benefit of their patients, and build the health capacity of Palestinian society. Over the long term with this will lessen Palestinian dependence on the Israeli healthcare system.
Messages of support were received from Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia, Mark Sofer, and the Head of the Palestinian delegation to Australia, Izzat Abdulhadi. See them on the event page.
If you wish to donate to this important cause, please do so. Your financial support WILL make a difference not only to the lives of vulnerable children but to extending the hand of friendship between people.
AUSTRALIAN ENTERTAINER AND ACTIVIST INSPIRED BY PROJECT ROZANA DINNER
Julie McCrossin AM, is an Australian radio broadcaster, journalist, comedian, political commentator and activist for women’s and gay rights. She attended the dinner and was both moved and outraged by what she heard and saw, but ultimately inspired to become part of the change.
This is her memory of the night:
There has been media coverage about threats reported by Muslim community leader, Belmore GP, Dr Jamal Rifi AM targeting him for his co-operation with Jewish community members to support a medical charity called Project Rozana.
Dr Rifi is a board member of this charity which supports the transport, treatment and training of Palestinian health workers for the benefit of Palestinian patients, especially children, as a result of limited services in certain medical specialties in Gaza and the West Bank.
There is only one way to respond to people who condemn action to enable children to get medical and psychological car. That is to start advocating for that care yourself.
The supporter of Project Rozana that convinced me to pull out my credit card and donate was a tiny boy called Abdallah. He lives in Hebron on the West Bank with his four siblings. Every day his mother takes him across a checkpoint into Israel for kidney dialysis. When his mother asks him to explain why he goes to Jerusalem, he says emphatically, “So that I get well. So that I live.”
If Abdallah survives, it will be in part due to the goodwill of two volunteer drivers: one a young Palestinian man and the other an older Israeli Jewish woman. They are two of nearly 100 Palestinians in the West Bank and 2000 Israelis who volunteer their time for the charity, Road to Recovery.
They co-operate to transport Palestinian patients to receive medical care that is not always available in the Palestinian Territories. Road to Recovery, which is supported by Project Rozana, was founded by Yuval Roth after he lost his brother in 1993 at the hands of Hamas terrorism. Roth’s response to grief and trauma was to strive to make a positive difference.
In 2017, I met Roth and other Israeli members of Road to Recovery at the Gaza Crossing. I was travelling with a group of Christians and Jews on a journey hosted jointly by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Uniting Church. We saw with our own eyes how this hospital transport scheme builds empathic relationships between individuals of all faiths and political views. Who doesn’t want to help sick children survive?
The Palestinian section of Road to Recovery was established relatively recently and the number of its drivers is growing steadily. These drivers take patient and family member to a checkpoint where they can enter Israel. The Israeli volunteer driver is waiting on the other side. In an ever-more polarized climate of conflict, these car trips bring so-called enemies together for a humanitarian common purpose that builds friendship and respect.
It was a pleasure to see this same humanitarian impulse in Sydney in late May when 320 Muslims, Christians and Jews gathered for the Hand in Hand Dinner to raise money for Project Rozana at Le Montage restaurant in the suburb of Lilyfield.
Nearly half the crowd were Muslim and 30 percent were Jewish. Federal, State and Local Government politicians mingled with community leaders and international representatives. The event patrons were businessman and philanthropist, David Gonski AC and NSW Shadow Minister for Education, Jihad Dib MP. The cross-cultural warmth demonstrated by these two men, when they spoke together, set the tone for the whole evening.
Project Rozana is not only helping Palestinian children get medical attention for physical illness and injuries. It is developing the capacity of Palestinian and Israeli clinicians to support children with PTSD as well.
Anyone who has visited the Israeli communities on the border of Gaza – as I have in 2017 and again this year with another multi-faith group hosted by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies – knows that many children sleep, wait for buses and play in bomb shelters. Children know they must run to shelters when they hear sirens. The children in Gaza and the West Bank also live with the ever-present threat of danger.
Child psychiatrist and trauma expert, Prof Esti Galili-Weisstub was interviewed by journalist, Hugh Riminton at the Project Rozana dinner about her work training Palestinian and Israeli clinicians to treat post-traumatic stress in children. This joint training, in English, at The Binational School of Psychotherapy in Jerusalem, also enables Palestinian and Israeli professionals to meet in a safe, respectful context and develop clinical partnerships. This kind of connection is all-too-rare in contemporary Israel.
Dr A. Abdel-Rahman, head of the Hebron-based Green Land Society for Health Development, accompanied Prof Galili-Weisstub and spoke of his work to expand the Road to Recovery transport scheme to the West Bank. These two colleagues showed the collegiate, mutual respect that extremists of all kinds abhor.
‘Normalization’ is a term of condemnation that is used to attack people and projects that seek to link people across the Palestinian and Israeli divide, even when the initiative has a clear humanitarian purpose.
Dr A. Abdel-Rahman captured the essence of Project Rozana when he told the dinner guests in Sydney: “The only normalisation I support is making it normal for children to get medical care.” His comment was met with warm applause.
After Project Rozana founder, Ron Finkel AM, closed proceedings, I walked out into the Sydney night, surrounded by Muslim and Jewish people mingling together, and I felt that rare commodity: hope.
HEZBOLLAH INSPIRES HATE SPEECH AND DEATH THREATS
The success of Project Rozana Australia’s first-ever fundraising event was clearly too much for some people. They conspired to turn on keynote speaker and Board member, Dr Jamal Rifi AM, and cast him as an impediment to the Palestinian cause rather than the hero he is of Palestinian children.
Gareth Narunsky, Deputy National Editor of The Australian Jewish News, filed the following story that traces the backlash from the ground-breaking Hand-in-Hand dinner in Sydney on May 22.
The prominent Muslim doctor targeted in a campaign of intimidation for his involvement in a humanitarian charity that brings Israelis and Palestinians together to help sick Palestinian children says his support of the organisation is now “much stronger than it has ever been”.
Dr Jamal Rifi, who is seen as a leader within Sydney’s Muslim community, was forced to turn to NSW police after being threatened, attacked online and called a Zionist collaborator due to his work with Project Rozana.
The organisation, founded by Melbourne Jewish businessman Ron Finkel, transports ill Palestinian children to Israel for treatment in addition to facilitating the training of Palestinian doctors at Israeli hospitals.
Rifi is on the board of Project Rozana and spoke at its recent Hand in Hand fundraising dinner.
“On the night, it was such a happy atmosphere and we saw people from all different walks of life, shoulder to shoulder and they’re coming for a good cause,” he told The AJN.
“I just could not enjoy that night because I knew what’s been breaking outside and I was very disheartened by it.”
Rifi said the trouble started weeks before the dinner when invitations were being sent out. And that he has endured online abuse “for years” due to being a moderate voice and standing against Islamic State.
“Some people got told of it, they started to agitate and then they sent it to Hezbollah in Beirut … they wanted people to reject what we are doing.
“I always had the policy of ignoring them.
“I know that it did affect my kids, my family. We talked about it and we knew that actually we are on the right path, we’re doing the right thing, no matter what these people will do.
“Except when it came to this stage, for them to label me as working with an entity of the enemy and a collaborator against my own people … that will increase the risk to my life.”
Rifi said he became involved with Project Rozana after hearing former NSW governor Dame Marie Bashir recount her visit to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where she saw Israeli and Palestinian children being cared for equally.
“I started to actually investigate Project Rozana and I spoke with people in my community and I spoke with people actually in Palestine itself. Because I knew that for me to be involved in such a project, I needed to be on a solid ground, because I knew this will happen.
“At our organisational table there is no room for politics. We only talk about practical ways of ensuring our humanitarian work will benefit the Palestinians and the Israelis at the same time.”
He said not only is his support of the charity much stronger, but also…
“The level of support in the Australian Muslim community is much stronger that it’s ever been”.
“Everyone knows about it. Everyone talked about it. And everyone knows what we are trying to achieve.
“They gave us actually free publicity. At my expense, but let it be.
“This campaign is not directed just against me, but also directed against the principle and the glue that binds us together as Australian citizens.
“Indirectly they are putting our social cohesion and social harmony at risk. Because if religious leaders are going to start to be afraid of meeting each other, that’s a recipe for disaster.”
Rifi has received support from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, with president Lesli Berger telling The AJN,
“The most disturbing aspect of these reported threats is that they are blatant attempts to quash not only positive Jewish–Muslim relationships, but a medical project which provides life-saving treatment to Palestinian children and elevates the health standards of Palestinian society.”
He has also been backed by NSW Labor MPs Jihad Dib and Walt Secord, in addition to official Palestinian Authority representatives in Australia and the Arabic language paper El Telegraph.
Finkel told The AJN,
“We’ve had the privilege of working with a lot of people who define themselves as Palestinian by what they’re trying to build and not what they’re against.”
Of those making the threats, he said,
“They have no comprehension of what it means for a mother to be denied the possibility of lifesaving treatment for her innocent child.”
ROAD TO RECOVERY IN THE WEST BANK
The reach of Road to Recovery, an organization established in Israel by Yuval Roth in 2010, was always limited by the checkpoints on the border of the West Bank and Gaza.
It was a life-saver for Palestinian patients with Palestinian Authority referrals to Israeli hospitals. But for many patients the cost of public transport and taxis to reach the checkpoints from their homes, was impossibly high. It made desperately needed treatment inaccessible.
For them, Road to Recovery was tantalizingly out of reach.
It was a problem that greatly concerned Yuval and later, Project Rozana which has become the major international funder of the service.
All of that changed for West Bank patients with the forging of a relationship in 2018 between Project Rozana and Hebron-based humanitarian organization, Green Land Society for Health Development (GLSHD).
How this has impacted Palestinian families in the West Bank is detailed in the latest GLSHD mid-year report compiled by its executive director, Dr A. Abdul Rhamen, a trained physiotherapist and Associate Professor of Physiotherapy at Al-Quds University.
In his report, Dr A. Abdel-Rahman raises the following key points:
- In order to increase awareness of the transport service offered by Road to Recovery in the West Bank and to recruit more volunteer drivers, currently close to 100, GLSHD has engaged with a range of organizations such as the Baytna Center in Hebron and municipalities in Bethlehem and surrounding villages. This has been extremely successful.
- GLSHD started showing a new video ‘So I Can Live: Abdallah’s Journey’ commissioned by Project Rozana, which tells the story of a young Palestinian child who travels every day to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem from his home in a village near Hebron for life-saving medical treatment. Until Project Rozana, the cost of public transport was way beyond the family’s means. This has proven to be a powerful medium to explain how Road to Recovery in the West Bank can assist families and is also a motivator for volunteer drivers.
- In the November 2018 – April 2019 period, there were 737 individual patient transfers with at least one companion.
- The age range was one month to 71 years with the majority between one to ten years old.
- Of the patients transferred, 60% were female, and 40% were male.
- Of the reasons for transport, leukemia was the most common medical condition (37.4%), followed by kidney dialysis (11.5%), kidney cancer (8.3%), bone marrow transplant (6.6%), bone cancer (6.0%) and lung cancer (5.6%). The least common conditions were orthopedic problems (1.5%) and rehabilitation services (1.1%).
Among the hospitals where patients were transferred was Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan (68.1%), Rambam Hospital in Haifa (9.5%), Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem (8.1%), and Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem (6.1%). Three East Jerusalem hospitals were also attended: Augusta Victoria Hospital (3.5%), Al Maqased (0.4%) and St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital (0.1%).
In summarizing the activity of the past six months Dr A. Abdel-Rahman also noted two issues that impacted the program:
- Volunteer drivers were stopped and fined as police believed they were using private cars to transport people for commercial gain. To overcome the problem, drivers were issued with a GLSHD-branded vest and provided with a volunteer card. The organization also liaised with local police to tell them of these identifiers.
- Patients living in the northern West Bank typically used the Qalandia checkpoint because of its proximity to Hadassah Hospital. However, this checkpoint was far from cities like Jenin and Tubas, making it difficult to get volunteer drivers. So the organization paid for private taxis to take patients as a group. This of course, has had an impact on GLSHD’s financial resources.
ROAD TO RECOVERY ACTIVISTS WIN PEACE PRIZE
Project Rozana USA (PRUSA) has taken its support for life-saving transport service Road to Recovery to the next level after two members of the volunteer-based organization were awarded the Institute of International Education’s (IIE) annual Victor J. Goldberg Prize for Peace in the Middle East.
They were nominated by PRUSA.
The prize is valued at $10,000 and was first presented in 2005.
Established in 2010 by Israeli Yuval Roth, Road to Recovery is an organization dedicated to providing free transport for mainly Palestinian children from checkpoints with the West Bank and Gaza to hospitals in Israel, often for complex medical conditions that cannot be treated in the Palestinian Territories. Volunteer drivers collect the young patients and their carer from the checkpoints and return them after the hospital appointment.
Nominated with Yuval is Palestinian Naeem Al-Baeda, who for seven years has been involved with coordinating patient transfers at the checkpoints to ensure a smooth process.
Pictured l-r: Steve Lax (PRUSA), Naeem Al-Baeda, Victor Goldberg, Yuval Roth, Ron Finkel (PRINT)
Around 2,000 Israelis volunteer for the service while in the West Bank, where a parallel service was initiated a little over 12 months ago, the number of volunteers is approaching 100. In 2018, the total distance travelled by the volunteers was 1,277,000 km, involving more than 20,000 patient trips, the majority of whom were children.
Kenneth Bob, Chair of Project Rozana USA, says,
“Yuval and Naeem represent the best of humanity and within their selfless actions we can see how the future can evolve for these two communities.
“The Victor J. Goldberg Prize is a fitting tribute to their commitment. I am extremely proud that Project Rozana is able to play its part in spreading the message that is so eloquently delivered every day in Israel and Palestine.”
The award ceremony was held at America House in Jerusalem on June 12. Among those present were,
- Victor J. Goldberg.
- Chris Hodges, Public Affairs Officer at the Palestinian Affairs Unit of the US Embassy.
- Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the IIE.
- Representatives of Project Rozana.
Victor Goldberg said the award has become a symbol of the power of international education to bring people together to solve shared problems, adding,
“In this 15th anniversary year, I am especially pleased to present the prize to Yuval Roth and Naeem Al-Baeda for their leadership of Road to Recovery. The prize rewards their courage and commitment to providing access to humanitarian medical care across borders, working together to overcome religious, cultural, ethnic and political issues which divide the region.”
In accepting the award, Yuval Roth spoke about the death of his brother at the hands of Hamas terrorists and how it influenced his decision to create a service dedicated to Palestinians in need of the superior healthcare available in Israel.
Yuval told the audience,
“I realized that beyond the humanitarian aid, there is an opportunity for an unmediated encounter between us and our neighbors. Such a meeting at the people-to- people level, regardless of religion or nationality, breaks barriers and stigmas, and it made sense to institutionalize it. Every (Road to Recovery) trip is an opportunity to make a ‘small hour of peace’ and we make dozens of ‘small peaces’ every day.”
It was also a chance meeting with Naeem that helped grow awareness to and support for Road to Recovery in the West Bank.
“Eight years ago, Naeem asked me to transport a relative from his home in the West Bank to hospital in Israel. He soon found himself serving as an address for patients in the West Bank who needed a similar service. Naeem had experienced all the difficulties of the occupation, and despite this he speaks of nonviolent resistance and an optimistic horizon that would put an end to his suffering and that of his people. I found a true partner for this path, with a huge heart, and compassionate.”
Underscoring the egalitarian nature of Road to Recovery, Mr Bob confirmed that the Israeli volunteers come from every part of the country and from every political persuasion and religious belief.
“Uniting them is a shared belief that bridging the gaps in healthcare can sow the seeds of co-existence.
“This is the cornerstone of Project Rozana, which was established in 2013 in order to leverage Israel’s superior healthcare for the benefit of Palestinian society. Today, the organization is active in the US, Canada, Australia, Israel and in the West Bank.
“In addition to our support for Road to Recovery, we also fund the training of Palestinian health workers in Israel in order for them to return and build the health capacity of Palestinian society, particularly in needed specialties like peritoneal dialysis and pediatric oncology.
“Our third pillar is to treat children from the West Bank and Gaza dealing with highly-complex medical conditions for which there are limited treatment options in Palestine.”
Mr Bob said that health remains the only area of civil society where Israelis and Palestinians meet on equal terms and in mutual respect.
“We passionately believe that building bridges to better understanding between Palestinians and Israelis is possible through health. Clearly, that is something with which the trustees of the Institute of International Education agree.”
For More Information contact Miki Golod, +1 347-236-1194 or email@example.com
ABDALLAH VIDEO EXPLORES HOPE AND HARDSHIP FOR WEST BANK FAMILY
Project Rozana’s latest video explores the world of Abdallah, as he and his mother navigate the daily journey from their home in a village near Hebron to the Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem.
Written and directed by British filmmaker, Lucy Lyon, we learn about the life-saving service, Road to Recovery, which operates in Israel and in the West Bank. Without that service, it’s unlikely that Abdallah’s family could meet the cost of transport Abdallah needs to receive daily treatment to survive kidney disease.
The video is uplifting and heart-breaking. With Lucy’s deft touch, we begin to understand why volunteer drivers – Israeli and Palestinian – dedicate themselves to meeting the needs of this small, beautiful and vulnerable child.
We also witness hope, dedication and a shared belief that people of goodwill can work towards a better future by focusing on the needs of defenseless children.
SO I CAN LIVE: ABDALLAH’S JOURNEY
WISE COUNSEL FOR PROJECT ROZANA
WISE COUNSEL FOR PROJECT ROZANA
The Board of Project Rozana International is pleased to advise three appointments to its new International Advisory Council.
Martin is best known, as to date, the only foreign-born United States Ambassador to Israel, a role he held from 1995 to 1997, and again from 2000 to 2001. Currently on the Advisory Board for ‘America Abroad Media’.
MORE ABOUT MARTIN...
Born in London in 1951, Martin grew up in Sydney, Australia. He graduated from the University of Sydney in 1972. In 1973 he spent time volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel during the Yom Kippur War. He returned to Australia and enrolled at the Australian National University where he received a PhD in international relations in 1977.
Martin emigrated to the US in 1982 and began working as a deputy research director for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). From 1985, he served eight years as the founding Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
He has been an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and has also taught at Columbia University, the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, and Macquarie University in Sydney.
Martin has served Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in various roles. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the non-profit America Abroad Media. www.americaabroadmedia.org
Tim was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1955. He recently retired from World Vision Australia, where he was the Chief Advocate, a position created for him after completing 13 years as the CEO of the organisation in 2016.
MORE ABOUT TIM...
He made a unique and powerful contribution to World Vision in the time he headed the organisation, as well as to the lives of millions of people all over the world. Tim brought extraordinary vision, compassion and a burning sense of justice to his role as CEO of World Vision Australia. He has been tireless in standing up for the world’s most vulnerable people and giving a voice to the voiceless.
When Tim took up the CEO role, World Vision had 480 projects benefiting 10.4 million people. A decade later this had grown exponentially with more than 800 World Vision development projects benefiting close to 100 million people across the globe, including in Australia.
Tim received the Victorian of the Year Award in 2004 and was made an officer of the Order of Australia in 2005. In 2008, he was awarded the Australian Peace Prize, by the Peace Organisation of Australia, and is listed by the National Trust of Australia as a ‘National Living Treasure’.
NB Tim has resigned as a Patron of Project Rozana Australia to assume the new position.
PROFESSOR SALEEM HAJ-YAHIA
Until recently, Saleem was CEO of An-Najah National University Hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus, the first university hospital in the Palestinian Territories. He is a heart transplant surgeon and currently professor of cardiothoracic surgery, at Bristol University, in the UK.
MORE ABOUT SALEEM...
Born in Israel, Saleem Haj-Yahia studied law at Tel Aviv University before switching to medical school at the Technion in Haifa. At Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv, he did his residency in cardiac and thoracic surgery. The institution’s director at the time, Professor Zeev Rotstein (now Director General of Hadassah Hospital), referred to him as the ‘Arab Prince’.
He joined London’s Imperial College after an invitation from Egyptian-born Sir Magdi Habib Yacoub, one of the world’s leading heart and heart-transplant surgeons. That was the springboard into an international career. He has performed heart operations and transplants – using both human and artificial organs – from Riyadh to Johannesburg.
He was a founder of An-Najah National University Hospital in the West Bank city of Nablus, the first university hospital in the Palestinian Territories. He is also founder and chairman of the National Heart, Lung, Vascular and Transplant Institute. And Dean Emeritus of the largest faculty of medicine and health sciences in the Middle East with 5000 students.
Saleem has been given a special ‘Honorary Chair’ position at the University of Bristol, England, and serves there as professor of cardiothoracic surgery. He is also a Professor at the University of Glasgow (Visiting Chair), Scotland. He is currently the only heart transplant surgeon in the United Kingdom to hold high profile professorial appointments at two leading British Universities, at the same time.
Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana International, says,
“We are thrilled to welcome three remarkable humanitarians to honorary positions on Project Rozana’s International Advisory Council. They have experience and international standing, alongside their wide-ranging service to the global community. This will assist our organisation in its mission to build bridges to better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health.”
LIVING OUR FAITH
The Reverend Canon Laurette A. Glasgow has dedicated her life to building bridges of understanding between people. It was a cornerstone of her work as a former Canadian Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg. And it continues through her ministry as an Anglican priest and the Anglican Church’s Liaison to the Canadian Government.
Living her faith through loving service in a region that is dear to her heart is what drew Laurette to Project Rozana Canada, with whom she is a founding and serving Board member.
This is her inspiring story.
In our fragile world that is rife with conflict and mistrust, we are called to act with compassion and loving service to honor the dignity of each human being. It is what underpins my commitment to Project Rozana.
Compassion is foundational for the world’s major religions. Its secular counterpart can be found in the ‘golden rule’. As religious thinker and author Karen Armstrong writes, “Compassion is to feel with the other”. Our hearts are stirred by the needs of the “other”. To feel compassion is one thing. To act on it is another. Project Rozana is anchored in compassion and serves to channel our compassion into action.
The three Abrahamic Faith Traditions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – recognize in their sacred texts and traditions that healing is integral to living our faith in our communities and in the wider world. Wholeness in body, mind, and spirit help us live our humanity fully, recognizing the value, integrity, and dignity of each human being. Wholeness offers hope, a hope that is vital not only to survival, but to overcoming differences, especially in places of conflict.
Project Rozana, through the vector of health, offers hope.
The Holy Land is sacred for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It is a place of history, pilgrimage, and spiritual inspiration. It is a place where hearts are stirred but where hearts are also broken. In the midst of persistent conflict, what hope is there for peace? We pray for peace. But we can also work for peace through incremental steps that touch human hearts. It is through loving service that we give expression to our compassion and translate our faith into action. In doing so, we offer hope and help transcend differences, thereby building bridges of mutual understanding and respect. The health sector is a place where this can and does happen. Project Rozana’s ‘peace plan’ is to build understanding through loving service.
The Anglican Church of Canada, and the Diocese of Ottawa in particular, has enjoyed a special relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem for nearly a decade. The network of relationships and cooperation is heartwarming but it is also instructive as to the importance of our continued engagement and support in this region. And I am heartened by the Anglican Church of Canada’s support for Project Rozana Canada, including through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund that has agreed to work as our partner in approaching the Government of Canada for funding.
I have witnessed first-hand the transformative power of healing, both through the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s health institutions and through partnerships forged through Project Rozana’s training, transportation, and treatment initiatives. Having been to Gaza, I can attest to the difficult conditions under which health service providers must operate, including critical shortages of fuel and nutrition. The lives that are lost because of inadequate health services, especially for women with breast cancer, are heartbreaking. The transportation services provided by Road to Recovery, a key Project Rozana partner, is vital to saving lives.
This includes transport to Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, an acknowledged world leader in the treatment of cancer. Without the volunteer-based Road to Recovery, the cost of taxis and other commercial transport options makes accessing treatment beyond the reach of many families.
But there is more. Crossing into Israel at the Erez border crossing can be traumatic even for those of us who enjoy good health. For those crossing into a strange land of the ‘other’, it can be terrifying. Road to Recovery volunteers provide more than transportation. They provide the face of humanity at its best through their welcoming hearts. The relationships that are forged as a result last a lifetime.
You do not need to be a person of faith to support Project Rozana. Our partnerships, both as donors and as recipients, reflect a diversity of faith traditions and beliefs, secular and religious alike. As we journey together, we learn from each other. Our knowledge of each other paves the way for our understanding of each other. As we do so, we too become part of the bridge of lasting peace.
MEDICAL ETHICS IN A JEWISH STATE
Project Rozana Canada recently co-sponsored an important public meeting with the New Israel Fund of Canada (NIFC) to hear from Ran Goldstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHR).
This humanitarian organisation delivers medical services to and raises awareness about under-served populations in Israel. It is the only Israeli organisation that is authorized to provide medical relief in the Gaza Strip.
Ran was interviewed by Amy Block, president of NIFC.
He confirmed that in 2019, PHR’s mobile clinics will serve uninsured and stateless residents of Israel, such as asylum seekers, as well as Palestinians in the West Bank.
Mark S Anshan, Chair of Project Rozana Canada, said that the event was an opportunity to partner with the New Israel Fund of Canada, which it hopes to work closely with in the future, saying,
“It is important that Project Rozana Canada engage with other like-minded organisations, collaborate on projects and leverage the synergies that exist.”
Pictured below (l-r) Karen Goldenberg CM, Project Rozana Canada. Ran Goldstein, Physicians for Human Rights Israel. Ben Murane, New Israel Fund Canada.
PROJECT ROZANA USA GROWS THROUGH COMMUNITY OUTREACH
Project Rozana USA launched a local chapter in the Greater Washington DC area, following very successful interfaith events held in 2018.
Kenneth Bob, Chair of PRUSA, reports:
On the evening of June 13 this year, we held an inspirational launch event of the Greater Washington Chapter of Project Rozana (GWCPR) at the home of Dr. Maqsood and Nadira Chaudhry. Twenty-three people from diverse faith backgrounds took part in the meeting.
The GWCPR, which will serve as the prototype for future chapters in cities across America, will support the work of Project Rozana in Israel and Palestine, as well as co-sponsor community service events in the Washington area. This is an expression of our commitment to the moral imperative in Judaism, Islam and Christianity, to help those in society who are most in need. Walter Ruby, a veteran activist in Muslim-Jewish relations, will serve as coordinator of the GWCPR.
Dr. Chaudhry, who recently became a Member of the Board of Project Rozana USA, welcomed the attendees and told them that he had decided to get involved in Project Rozana out of a belief that, “We have to step up and take responsibility” to help Palestinians in need.
Participants received an update on the latest developments in Project Rozana’s work in the region. These include Road to Recovery, a program through which volunteer Israeli and Palestinian drivers join forces to transport Palestinian patients, mostly children, to hospital appointments in Israel, and logistical and financial support for advanced training for Palestinian healthcare professionals in Israeli hospitals, so that they are able to improve the quality of healthcare in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Of particular interest to attendees was the news regarding Dr. Khadra Hasan Ali Salami, a Palestinian pediatric oncologist at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, who took part in a Project Rozana event last year at the ADAMS Center. Khadra will soon be receiving fellowship training in pediatric bone marrow transplantation at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Participants in the meeting held a wide-ranging discussion and brainstorming session about ways that the GWCPR can support the work of Project Rozana, while supporting community service initiatives and strengthening Interfaith ties at home.
ARE WE REALLY SO FAR APART?
To understand the power and purpose of Project Rozana, you only need to wander in to any major hospital in Israel. The first thing you notice is the remarkable mix of people – patients, families and practitioners – the mosaic of life in Israel.
There are Israelis and Palestinians, Arabs and Europeans, Jews, Christians and Muslims, Orthodox and secular. For the most part they are readily identifiable and coexist easily. But beyond the public spaces, there are stories from the wards that reveal more about the human condition than the politically-charged environment of Middle Eastern politics usually allows.
Fertile ground for Project Rozana, where people-to-people relationships are more focused and situations more fraught than the media reports. Where parents invest emotional energy in their children and loved ones.
Take this story of two couples and their children on similar journeys. It began earlier this year in the Pediatric Gastroenterology Unit at Hadassah Hospital’s Mount Scopus campus. The children both suffer from a rare disease, and require special and expensive food-based medicine. They are pictured below with consultant, Professor Michael Wilshansky.
One couple hails from an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem, while the other couple lives in Gaza. Both share the same concern for their tiny loved one hospitalized for treatment and follow-up, at the hospital.
The first mother, who we will call ‘Dafna’, tells us that her daughter is being treated by Professor Michael Wilshansky, the unit’s director, and Dr Peri-Nicole Milman, an expert in pediatric gastroenterology.
She said, in Hebrew,
“We are in the best of hands. Prof Wilshansky diagnosed the rare disease our child suffers from, by her symptoms, even before the test results arrived. His knowledge and understanding are astonishing, as is his compassion and his ability to accompany families in the long process.”
Dafna says that the doctor has been available to them for many months, day and night.
“Even when he travelled abroad, he asked us to be in touch by phone for every need, caring for our daughter 24 hours a day. As for Dr Milman, she has a heart of gold. Unassumingly, she performs the most complex tests with professionalism and gentleness. We owe this team so much.”
Close by is a baby of a similar age, whose parents have travelled from Gaza to Hadassah for treatment. Both babies suffer from a syndrome so rare there are only 30 children in the world who are known to have it.
During the hospitalization, Dafna and her husband met the parents of the other baby who is also fed by the unique and expensive medicine.
“This medicine is saving the lives of our babies. When we heard that the parents from Gaza had trouble paying for it, we decided to do an act of benevolence and help them get it. We enrolled everyone we know for this effort, friends and acquaintance. Soon the special food medicine drug arrived and they were very excited and happy. It’s the only thing their daughter can eat.”
The parents from Gaza do not conceal their excitement. Speaking in Arabic, the mother said,
“Thanks to these generous people, our daughter was given life-saving medication. She is now improving and eating these food capsules. We do not take it for granted. We thank them every day and every minute. It is an act of kindness that we will never forget.”
“As far as we’re concerned, a sick baby is like any other baby, no matter where it comes from and what its nationality is. We helped with all our heart. When we needed this special remedy, there were those who got it for us and now we have passed the mitzvah on.”
Prof Wilshansky explains that the syndrome affecting the two babies does not allow the intestine to function properly in digesting any other type of food. He says matter-of-factly, despite the obvious consequences of his words,
“This is the only food that exists for them. It is very expensive, and very complicated to purchase for those who do not have medical insurance.”
Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana International, says that Project Rozana actively seeks out situations like these to fund.
“We can’t fund every deserving case, but as we expand our supporter base we will help more Palestinian families to access life-saving treatment in Israel. And we will assist more Palestinian practitioners to learn from their Israeli peers for treatment in Palestinian hospitals and clinics.
“It takes a case like this to tell a story of hope, courage and shared commitment. The further we can shift from megaphone diplomacy to the quiet diplomacy of the back fence, the closer we will come to realizing a paradigm shift in relations between people.”
MEDICAL FELLOWSHIPS THE CORNERSTONE OF BUILDING HEALTH CAPACITY
Dr Bilal AlShawmra, from the training team, with Dr Khadra Salami.
A key pillar of Project Rozana is to fund the training of Palestinian medical professionals in Israel in order for them to build the health capacity of Palestinian society as their expertise develops.
By ‘training local’, there is a greater likelihood that these professionals will ‘stay local’ and not be lost to their community as has happened too frequently in the past.
This year, our newest fellow is Dr Khadra Salami, senior pediatrician at Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem. Dr Salami began a two-year Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplantation specialization at Hadassah Hospital under Professor Polina Stepensky, head of the Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cancer Immunology.
Eventually, she will bring her expertise back to the children’s cancer ward at Augusta Victoria (pictured below) and enable transplantation surgery to be undertaken without the need to transfer children to Hadassah.
Project Rozana has approved a grant of US$60,000 to cover the cost of the two year part-time fellowship.
Below, Prof Polina Stepenskyis pictured with Dr Khadra Salami.
“A COMMON ENEMY”
It is easy to believe that there are no channels of communication between Israelis and Palestinians. This is what is being promoted through most media outlets around the world.
A new video from Project Rozana begs to differ.
‘Project Rozana: Tomorrow’ briefly explores the work of two dedicated Israelis who are training Palestinian medical specialists in their respective hospitals in order for those specialists to build the health capacity of Palestinian society.
At Assuta Hospital in Ashdod, Dr Adi Leiber (pictured above) is training Palestinians doctors in kidney dialysis, while Professor Polina Stepensky from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, is training Project Rozana fellow, Dr Khadra Salami, in bone marrow transplantation.
Says Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana International,
“Senior medical staff from Israel’s major teaching hospitals are routinely training Palestinian doctors, nurses and therapists in various specialties needed for the Palestinian community.
“Increasingly, Project Rozana is providing the funds because the future wellbeing of both Israelis and Palestinians requires close medical cooperation. Each community gains from the other; the health and wellbeing of people demands the highest degree of medical excellence which can only be achieved through training.
“We are dedicated to building bridges to better understanding to Israelis and Palestinians through health.”
PROJECT ROZANA: TOMORROW
GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM DRIVES INTEREST IN PROJECT ROZANA
Project Rozana Canada has been arranging meetings, as part of an educational program organized by women’s group ITAG (‘It takes a Grandmother’). They attract community members interested in learning about and supporting Project Rozana.
On 6 May, 2019 a parlor event was held at the home of Drs Mark and Corin Greenberg. More than 40 people attended and heard presentations from Mark S. Anshan, Chair of Project Rozana Canada, and board members Jon Allen and Karen Goldenberg CM.
Jon Allen, a former Canadian Ambassador to Israel, provided an overview of the current situation in Israel that set the context for discussing projects being supported by Project Rozana Canada.
He highlighted the three pillars that underpin the role of Project Rozana:
Treatment, Training and Transport.
He related several projects to each of these, including…
- Road to Recovery.
- The Binational School of Psychotherapy, and
- Training for Peritoneal Dialysis to be done at patients’ homes. This service provided by Assuta Hospital in Ashdod for healthcare professionals at August Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem.
Jon emphasized that donations to Project Rozana support, finance and maintain a bridge to harmony between Israelis and Palestinians built and carried out via these targeted activities.
Karen Goldenberg said,
“The enthusiasm of the audience was palpable. Several people offered to have a similar event to spread the word and introduce friends from all backgrounds to Project Rozana.
“As we continue to expand our network, we are building a web of supporters and giving people hope by demonstrating that Project Rozana offers a meaningful way for Israelis and Palestinians to engage with each other for mutual benefit.
“The objective is to build much-needed healthcare capacity in the West Bank and Gaza by training Palestinian healthcare professionals in Israeli hospitals before they return to their own communities, and by helping Palestinians who require urgent healthcare to access services that are only available in Israel.”
Future parlor events are planned for later this year.