The media in Israel are making a lot of noise about a report that several major hospitals in Israel separate Jewish mothers from Arab mothers in their maternity wards when requested to do so by the patients.. Some Jewish mothers and husbands admitted that they prefer things this way, some out of fear and others because they claimed the Arab families come in droves and have loud celebrations ("haflas") that disturb their rest. And they are being called "racists."
My wife is beyond the baby stage, but hopefully our married children will bring us a platoon of grandchildren, so I guess my opinion on this issue counts as well as anyone else’s. Beyond the maternity issue, there is the general question about Arabs and Jews in Israeli hospitals. Before my Mother passed away a few months ago, I spent the last week at her bedside in the Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem. All of her doctors were Israeli Arabs. A great number of the hospitals workers were Arabs, and the patient in the neighboring bed was an Arab woman, whose sons camped out with me during the nights, dutifully caring for their mother.
So, as a person who has some experience with Israeli hospitals, and as a grandfather who hopes to make lots of visits to maternity wards in the future, here’s what I think.
The number of Arab patients and Arab doctors in Jewish-run hospitals should be exactly the same as the number of Jewish patients and Jewish doctors in Arab-run hospitals in the 'West Bank' and Gaza.
I think that things should be equal for Arabs and Jews. The number of Arab patients and Arab doctors in Jewish-run hospitals should be exactly the same as the number of Jewish patients and Jewish doctors in Arab-run hospitals in the 'West Bank' and Gaza. That would mean, however, zero. That’s right. There are absolutely no Jewish patients or Jewish doctors in the Arab hospitals in Gaza, Ramallah, Jericho, Beit Jala, or Shechem, even if the Jews who become ill live nearby in "settlements" and it is a longer trip to a Jewish hospital, even in case of a life-threatening emergency. Needless to say, no one calls this racism or an abrogation of the Hippocratic oath. It’s OK for Arabs to ban sick Jews, it seems, and that is despite the fact that Israel treats "West Bank" Arabs who need its advanced medical skills without question.
What’s the reason that you won’t find a Jewish patient or Jewish doctor in an Arab-run hospital? Because, one minute after entering one, the Jew would be slaughtered. It’s as simple as that. Of course, “Sixty Minutes” will never do a show about that, and you won’t find Thomas Friedman decrying the situation in The New York Times. But it’s a fact. Chances are that a Jew who walks into an Arab hospital in the 'West Bank' or Gaza will be dead within a few minutes.
The same thing is true regarding shopping centers. It is a common site to see Israeli Arabs strolling around freely in Israeli shopping centers and supermarkets. But the opposite? Forget about it! You won’t find Jews strolling around Arab shopping centers in Ramallah, Bethlehem, or Tulkarem, even if they are located five minutes from their homes. Why? Because if a Jew entered one of those places, chances are that he or she wouldn’t exit alive.
It's not only Arabs in the "West Bank." The same thing is true regarding shopping centers located in Israeli Arab populated cities or Israeli Arab neighborhoods. Given the current terror wave of knifings in Israel, Jews don’t make a habit of doing their shopping in areas where you might be harmed.
And if we are discussing the issue – in my Jerusalem neighborhood, you will see Arabs going freely about their business, and no Jew bothers them at all. But if a Jew were to go for a walk in almost any Arab city in Israel, including the cities where Israeli Arabs dwell, chances are that he would be harmed or frightened.
Now let me ask you a question. As we said, a Jew doesn’t have a very great chance of surviving in an Arab hospital, shopping center, or neighborhood. So how can it be that (pre the current terror wave) I was able to spend a week by my Mother’s hospital bedside, sleeping in the same room as the grown sons of the Arab woman in the adjacent bed, and I woke up each day with my jugular vein intact? Are the Arabs in Jewish hospitals more peaceful than the Arabs in Arab hospitals, cities and neighborhoods? I can’t figure it out.
Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Jewish Culture and Creativity. Before making Aliyah to Israel in 1984, he was a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbis A. Y. Kook and T. Y. Kook. His other books include: "The Kuzari For Young Readers" and "Tuvia in the Promised Land". His books are available on Amazon.Recently, he directed the movie, "Stories of Rebbe Nachman."