Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) reflects on a life-changing visit to Israel.Last year a new chapter in time for both America and Israel began. A chapter that holds many changes for both nations but also helps reemphasize one element that will never change, and that is that very special and unique relationship, friendship, and partnership between the American people and the Israeli people.
We have so much in common. We revere our families. We nourish our faith. We are committed to justice and our freedom, and readily make sacrifices today to improve the lives of our children and future generations. And as strong nations, we both have the strongest and most loyal of friends and, as we all know, the most determined and aggressive of adversaries.
You know, all of us, even those of us who work in Washington, D.C., the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, take our freedoms and justice for granted. We move about our country right now without fear. We put our kids on the school bus in the morning. We don’t even think about their safety or whether they’ll be coming home that night because we expect they will return safely and securely at the end of the day. But it’s tragically different today in Israel. Terrorist danger lurks around every corner. The front lines are often just beyond that front door.
When I was in Israel one of the things that influenced me was my visits to the hospitals. During a particular visit to the Rambam Hospital in northern Israel, I learned that 5,000 babies are born each year, and each of those babies are given a gas mask, protective gear and antidotes.
These circumstances dominate the headlines of the news coming from Israel today and help form the image of Israel to people who have never had the opportunity to visit. However, as a scientist and researcher who has spent time in Israel, I’ve had the privilege of seeing the other side of Israel other people don’t see.
Some of Israel’s best medical technology and innovations has created medical devices that benefit you and me, and people around the world. As a physician, I’ve used magnetic resonance imagining machines to detect blood flow and tumors, which is based on science that originated in Israel.
As a heart surgeon, I’ve opened the coronary arteries of thousands of patients with a knife. Now, surgery is unnecessary in many cases because of a little stint, the little spring-loaded tube that’s placed in the arteries. Much of that technology was developed in Israel. One of the most innovative stints being developed in Israel is flexible, so when the heart beats, it moves to push the disease out of the way.
All of this medical science and innovation is based at least in part on the fact that there are twice as many engineers employed in Israel as in the United States.
When I was at another hospital in Israel, I went up to the cardiac cath floor. They were beaming the cardiac cath procedure all over the world. It was the beginning of telemedicine, which is just now coming to the United States. On a per capita basis, Israel has more researchers seeking those lifesaving advances at the United States’ National Institutes of Health than any other foreign country.
In the armed forces, I’ve had the opportunity to look at the field advances in medicine that are being adopted by the United States field forces today. I think Dr. Miriam Adelson, doing drug rehabilitation with tremendous success in Nevada as well as in Israel, represents a partnership that will be mutually beneficial for years to come.
Our relationship with Israel isn’t a one-way street. I’ve been on the inside and seen what is being done in Israel to benefit people throughout the world. My eyes are open to the great contributions the country has made both in medicine and in the strength of its people. They are also aware of the great desire for peace and a safe place for Israel’s children to grow. I won’t forget what I’ve seen nor what I can do by sharing my experience and thoughts with others. Peace will come someday, and I’ll continue to do my part to ensure that it comes in our lifetime.