Medical cooperation between Israel and the neighboring Arab countries exists, claims Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a recent article. Israel’s cooperation extends itself to countries like Egypt and Jordan, who have signed peace treaties with Israel, and also to those who have a relationship with Israel without prior peace agreements.
Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem trains many Arab physicians to enable them to treat patients in their respective hospitals, says Professor Joseph Schenker, senior gynecologist at the Hadassah Hospital.
In his book titled, “Improving Women’s Health,” Prof. Schenker puts emphasis on the important relationship between medical institutions in various countries to develop scientific medical research. In a chapter devoted to this topic, Professor Schenker writes that for years Israel has treated many patients from Arab states and has built mutual connections with Arab countries in the field of medicine.
By 1978, Israel had made early medical collaborations with Egypt following peace negotiations at Camp David between President Anwar Sadat and Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
In the 1940’s Lebanese and Israeli doctors began working together when many medical students in the region studied at the American University and the French University in Beirut.
Throughout the years, women from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States arrived for treatment in Israeli hospitals. The patients traveled via Cyprus to Israel's international airport and their passports were not stamped.
Ilana Basri, whose radio program "Doctor behind the microphone" was broadcast on Israeli radio's Arabic service, made some of Israel’s first contact with patients from Arab countries. The program's goal was to provide health services to Arab neighbors and invite them to receive treatment in Israel; Basri became known as the "white angel on the air waves".
The program gained unrivaled popularity in the Arab countries. Certain cases warranted patients to come to Israel for treatment, among the patients was a well-known woman in the Arab world, the cousin of the Ayatollah Khomeini. She underwent a successful operation at Hadassah in Jerusalem in 1979, the year of the Islamic revolution in Iran.
Despite the Iranian extremists call for, "Death to Israel," Israel has reacted with humanitarian acts by treating any and all patients who seek Israel's assistance.