Yves Mamou, a journalist who writes about economics for the French newspaper, Le Monde, has published a book in French entitled, Israel: the diseases of the religious–a different outlook on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
In his study, Mr. Mamou mainly focuses on the affecting Jewish and Arab Israelis, but also the Palestinians from the Territories, the Bedouin, and the Druze communities. Among the many themes he deals with are intermarriage, autosomal recessive genetic and orphan diseases, abortion, and solidarity between Jews and Muslims in the face of disease.
He writes: “The sufferings endured throughout the disease change the way each one looks at the other. Interpersonal relationships are built between the doctors and their patients, between Jews and Muslims. When confronted by a common enemy–the disease–people express their solidarity in unexpected ways.”
Mr. Mamou’s journey took him from East Jerusalem al Makassed Hospital to the Jewish orthodox association, Dor Yeshorim, via the Hadassah Hospital at Ein Kerem, which is frequently quoted in his essay and presented as “a pacified space where the medical staff, be it Jewish, Christian or Muslim, provides equal care to Jews, Christians or Muslims without any discrimination. Throughout the hospital’s troubled history, it happened many times that the doctors had to attend simultaneously both the victims and perpetrator of a bomb attack.”
During his visits to Hadassah, Yves Mamou interviewed world-renowned experts: Prof. Azaria Rein (Pediatric Cardiology), Dr. Annick Rothschild (Genetics), and Prof. Ariel Revel. Those specialists put Hadassah high on the world’s map in terms of know-how, prevention, and treatment of genetic diseases affecting religious populations, Jewish or Muslim. Among other Hadassah’s leading projects, Mr. Mamou highlights the extraordinary work of the French-Israeli association, “A Heart for Peace,” presided over by Dr. Muriel Haim. The goal set by this association is to find the necessary funds to finance cardiac surgery for 50 Palestinian children each year.
Since its creation in 2005, the lives of 350 children from Gaza and the West Bank have been durably saved. Mr. Mamou also presented another outreach program initiated and led by Hadassah in the community center of Abu Gosh, a small Arab village of 6500 inhabitants located within Israel, a few kilometers west of Jerusalem. This initiative aims at mobilizing the village’s women, all volunteers, around health-related matters such as eating habits and physical activity, but also familial and marital issues. Hadassah staff offer their expertise to help reduce the number of diabetics, but also the number of babies affected by autosomal recessive diseases.
To change society, Mr. Mamou brings out, one must change the women’s condition, but this without endorsing heavy feministic credo: “We do not intend to modify the traditional values… we just try to push their limits and operate a change from within,” explains Tal Atzmon, Coordinator of the Patricia and Russell Fleischman Center for Women’s Health at Hadassah.
The projects, cited in Mr. Mamou’s book, are ones that embody the spirit of the Hadassah University Medical Center which, in 2005, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in acknowledgment of its equal treatment of all patients, regardless of ethnic and religious differences, and its efforts to build bridges to peace.
Mr. Mamou concludes that “Beyond the monotonous coverage of the settlement activities, of the bombs and suicide attacks, there is under the map another reality which may leave us the right to hope.”