On March 12, 2015, students and professors gathered in Newbold auditorium at Andrews University to hear how doctors in western Galilee are using medicine to build trust and promote peace between Israel and Syria. Dr. Arie Eisenman and Dr. Ohad Ronen shared how the Galilee Medical Center has begun to care for Syrians who have been wounded in the ongoing Syrian Civil War. Injured Syrians who are brought to the border are transported by the Israeli government to the Galilee Medical Center. While at the hospital, no questions are asked: anyone who is injured is treated, whether they are a member of ISIS or a civilian. Dr. Ronen described the surprise of many of these patients – who typically view Israel as the enemy – when they wake up and find themselves being treated in an Israeli hospital. While only wounded individuals were originally being brought to Israel for care, the word has spread and some noncritical patients are coming to the border for help, such as pregnant women who cannot acquire adequate medical care within Syria. Dr. Ronen hopes that providing for the medical needs of these Syrian patients will build trust between Syria and Israel, with those who have been cared for in Israel returning to share their positive experiences with family and friends once they have recovered. As someone who is working towards a career in medicine, it was inspiring to hear how even doctors that don’t devote their careers entirely to humanitarian work can have opportunities placed in their path to help people in need and even promote peace in a world full of upheaval.
Sumiko Weir, Andrews University