Building better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health


McLean, VA, November 28, 2018

Over 100 people, largely Muslims and Jews, gathered last week at a private home in McLean,VA to support Project Rozana, an initiative committed to building bridges of understanding between Israelis and Palestinians by transporting Palestinian patients to appointments in Israeli hospitals and providing advanced training to Palestinian health care professionals so they can help develop high quality health capacity in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Held under the theme central to both Islam and Judaism that “If We Save One Life, We Save the World,” the program was co-sponsored by three large Washington-area mosques (ADAMS Center, McLean Islamic Center and Masjid Muhammad), two large synagogues (Washington Hebrew Congregation and Temple Rodef Shalom) three interfaith organizations (Jews and Muslims and Allies Acting Together, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and Rumi Forum for Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding) and the Order of St. John.

Representatives of the various co-sponsors expressed in their greetings support for Project Rozana’s mission and the importance of interfaith efforts especially at this time in the United States. Multiple references were made to twinning relationships between mosques and synagogues, acts of solidarity in the wake of the horrific shooting in Pittsburgh and the value of shared service projects.

Dr. Akram Amro, the CEO of the Green Land Society for Health Development in Hebron, spoke about the work he has done developing a group of West Bank volunteers who every morning drive patients from towns and villages to the Israeli security checkpoints. The patients are then transferred to Israeli volunteer drivers, brought to their hospital appointments and returned along the same path in the afternoon. Asked about the impact of these daily, personal contacts on the broader Palestinian society, Dr. Amro shared the example of a young man who was shot by an Israeli soldier during a demonstration some time ago. Despite his past experience, he now volunteers as a driver and has brought a group of friends to join the effort as well. Every time he drives a patient, he hands them off to an Israeli driver, completing the transportation to the door of the hospital.

Dr. Sagit Arbel Alon, Deputy Director of the Reut Rehabilitation Hospital in Tel Aviv, shared experiences from her many years at Hadassah Hospital working shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian doctors and treating Palestinian patients. A published poet, she also read a moving poem entitled “Doctors Without Borders” that she wrote in the context of a joint narrative project in which she participated together with Palestinian doctors. She hopes Project Rozana will be able to fund the training of a cohort of Palestinian therapists using the training team and curriculum already developed at Reut. This would enable the provision of rehabilitation services in an under-served West Bank community.

Walter Ruby, long time interfaith activist and organizer of the event, said that “efforts to strengthen relations between American Muslims and Jews have, in the past, purposely avoided dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Today, we are witnessing a paradigm shift. Joining together to support the work of Project Rozana gives Muslims  and Jews the chance to save lives and improve the quality of health care for Palestinians, while building closer ties with each other here at home.”

Kenneth Bob, the chair of Project Rozana USA and the moderator of the evening’s program, expressed his gratitude to the co-sponsors for their support of this effort, saying “with no Israeli-Palestinian peace process on the horizon, we are focused on what we can do impact the work of people working on the ground, building durable relationships and improving lives.”

The appearance of the Palestinian and Israeli doctors at this event was part of a week- long speakers tour that included programs in the metropolitan areas of New York, Washington DC, Ottawa and Toronto.

More on Project Rozana

Project Rozana was established in 2013 and has since grown to become an international organization with branches in Australia, United States and Canada. The initiative is committed to building bridges between Israelis and Palestinians through the field of healthcare, an area of civil society where both meet on a broad scale. The organization aims to both improve the medical treatment received by Palestinians in Israel and significantly expand healthcare capacity on the West Bank and in Gaza.

For more information contact: Walter Ruby (+1-917-294-1772) or Kenneth Bob (+1-212-366-1914)

Dr. Arbel-Alon, Kenneth Bob (moderator), Dr. Amro