March 11, 2002

The Israeli health care system is truly committed to serving all constituencies.Describing and characterizing the contributions of a tiny, 53-year-old country to the world of health should not be such a daunting task. What could a miniscule outpost of human caring of the weak and underprivileged possibly have to offer? The answer is: more than we can imagine.

Ancient and modern Israel has always emphasized the idea that a reasonable level of health is a prerequisite to other human and spiritual achievements. This commitment was demonstrated when research into the treatment of malaria was, of necessity, born from the infested swamps drained by Jewish pioneers. Many died. But many were saved as a result of the research into malaria and other forms of human disease.

When Israel was faced with the truly daunting task of providing health services for more than 800,000 Jews (most of whom lost everything and were not in the best of health) from Arab countries, the health care community somehow was equal to this monumental task. Despite shortages of human resources, proper medicines and supplies, the unsung heroes of the Israeli health community were equal to the task. This ragtag band of healers, remnants of a worldwide tradition of universal healing, turned Israel into a true community and haven for the sick and dispossessed from more than 50 countries as well as the indigenous Jewish populations. Any contribution was freely shared with Arabs and the rest of the world.

Despite so many obstacles, both natural and those artificially imposed by very real enemies, the Israeli health care system provides top-quality care to all citizens, regardless of race, color or creed. Whenever and wherever disaster strikes, Israeli health teams go to help, selflessly and generously.

The HMO-like system is provided to all based upon family income, so some pay close to what a typical HMO in the United States charges, yet others pay nothing for the same quality care. Technological advances in treatment and diagnosis from research Institutes of world-class stature, such as Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University and The Technion, to name only a few, are too numerous to mention here.

Despite being systematically blocked from becoming a member of the International Red Cross, the Jewish “Red Cross,” Magen David Adom or Red Star of David, continues to improve its legacy of ambulance treatment and life-saving aid, sharing its expertise in the first aid, primary treatment areas worldwide. There is no history of withholding any medical advance or positive idea. Disaster relief operations in the past three years in Turkey, Kosovo, India, Ethiopia, and Eritrea – all nations with large Muslim populations, once again demonstrate in a real life-saving and life-affirming way, the commitment of Israeli health professionals to help anyone and everyone.

Suffice it to say that no Israeli or American Jew should ever feel anything but pride at how Israeli health professionals have helped their own and the world. Good health to all!

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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