Hadassah Medical Center Director General Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef responded to those who advocate boycotting Israeli academicians, with a letter on-line in “Rapid Responses of the British Medical Journal,” where he explains Hadassah’s mission to transcend politics and religion to provide universal health care without discrimination and delineates Hadassah’s numerous collaborative ventures with Palestinians.A letter from the Director General of Hadassah Medical Organisation:Dear Sir/Madam:
The Hadassah Medical Organisation is an academic centre that consists of two hospitals and five academic medical schools in Jerusalem, Israel. A world-class university medical institution, it has achieved a global reputation for excellence in healing, teaching and research.

It is also a centre of goodwill where the benefits of medicine transcend politics, religion and national politics. We consider it our mission to serve as a bridge to peace by forging links between peoples of all nationalities, races and religion who come to its doors for healing. In 2005 we were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because of our work.

We did not let politics into our premises when we saved lives of Palestinian suicide bombers who were injured while assassinating hundreds of Israelis during the recent Intifada. We do not let politics into our premises when we save lives of Palestinian babies with severe heart defects. We ignore political aspects when we conduct dozens of collaborative research and clinical projects with Palestinian physicians in a variety of medical and health areas.

You will find below* a few examples of our cooperative work with the Palestinians which goes back many years. Many programs were developed, providing training for the Palestinian physicians, nurses, midwives and health professionals in the West Bank and Gaza, with the aim of helping them establish their own capabilities.

We firmly believe that this is our mission and duty. To focus on contributing to our societies what we know to do best, instead of making political statements.

A decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions will include Hadassah. It will include Palestinian physicians, nurses, social workers and other health professionals who work at Hadassah and consider it their hospitals. It will boycott the small but real steps we make here together everyday towards fulfilling our wish to have peace in our region.

Yours faithfully,
Professor Shlomo Mor-Yosef, M.D.; M.P.A.
Director General
Hadassah Medical Organisation, Jerusalem, Israel

*1. Advanced Resuscitation Training: This course takes place within a three-year– two-week Summer School education and social program for select 14-18 year-old Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians and students from other countries in the Middle East. The study gatherings take place at different locations in the region. The last gathering took place in Acre, Israel and the next one will take place in Turkey. The program which is carried out in English, includes participation in a two weeks Summer School – in each of the three years – where students learn from some of the world’s leading cardiologists and educators.

2. The Hadassah-Augusta Victoria Hospital Exchange Program: The Augusta Victoria Hospital is in the process of developing a Cancer Center to serve patients from the West Bank and Gaza. This Center will initially include basic Radiation and Chemotherapy services. The Hadassah Hospital has committed itself to train staff and provide physicist expertise to assure appropriate quality oncology services at the Augusta Victoria Hospital. Furthermore, Hadassah will provide treatment of complex patients that exceed the capabilities of the Augusta Victoria Hospital cancer program at the Hadassah Medical Organization Department of Oncology. With this cooperation, both medical institutions saw in it an opportunity to create mutual understanding while developing a much needed Cancer Program that will serve the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza.

3. The Hadassah-St. John Eye Hospital human resources development program in Ophthalmology: This project, dedicated to exchanging ophthalmic knowledge and resources between Palestinian and Israeli hospitals, represents a unique attempt to raise the standard of care in both communities while simultaneously harnessing medicine in the service of peace. It incorporates joint specialist clinics at St. John Hospital, a combined residency program at St. John Eye Hospital and the Hadassah Department of Ophthalmology and joint specialist clinics at Hadassah for St. John referred patients.

4. The Walter D. Cohen Middle East Centre for Dental Studies – Hadassah and Al-Quds University: A six week course for dentists from Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and other countries in the Middle East was established in 1998 with the participation of 2 Palestinians, 2 dentists from Jordan, 2 from Turkey, 2 from Cyprus. Last year the course was intensified and squeezed into 2 weeks according to the request of the participants. 11 participants participated last year. This year the course was held for 6 students, but another course is contemplated for August, i.e. two courses in one year. The course takes place at the Hadassah-Hebrew University Dental School.

5. Specialist Graduate Training: The upgrading and independent operation of medical services for Palestinian communities is to a considerable extent the result of specialist training programs arranged by Hadassah for doctors from these areas. Physicians concluding a two-year full-time specialist training on stipends earmarked for this purpose by a Hadassah donor receive a diploma allowing them to provide medical care in their home towns and villages. This program was initiated in 1987. Physicians often return even after their training to participate in weekly meetings, receive medical advice when necessary. Surgeons continue operating at Hadassah from time to time.

About 5-7 physicians from the West Bank participate in this program. All in all about 30 physicians have taken part in this program. The further training of these doctors at Hadassah has made a major contribution to the advance of medicine in the West Bank and Gaza and to the development of medical specialties which were not available there before, such as Dermatology, Endocrinology, Hematology, Radiology, Anesthesiology and Neurosurgery. A doctor who specialized in neurosurgery at Hadassah is now the head of Neurosurgery at Beit Jallah Hospital and a doctor who specialized in neurology is now the most prominent neurologist in the entire West Bank and is also on the staff of the Beit Jallah hospital (next to Bethlehem).

6. Master of Public Health Course: Each year physicians, nurses and health administrators from the Palestinian Authority participate in a full time course organized by the Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine at Hadassah. The successful graduates receive an MPH degree.

7. The Trauma Course: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) and the Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) have been working together to improve trauma care in the region. The major joint activity has been two Trauma Courses, organized and presented by Hadassah. The objectives of the course are: to improve trauma care in the region; to improve communication between the PRCS workers and the staff of the Hadassah Trauma Unit and to promote cooperation in their joint work by knowing each other as persons. The trauma courses were given in Arabic and English – the first of which was attended by 18 people from the West Bank; the second was attended by 23 people from Gaza and the West Bank. The courses included 3 weeks of lectures, demonstrations, and on-site visits and one week of experience in related clinical areas including the operating room, the emergency room, the trauma unit, orthopedics, neuro-surgery, the recovery room, respiratory intensive care unit and the pediatric intensive care unit. The course, originally designed for nurses, paramedics and ambulance drivers was extended to cater to physicians. Further plans are being made for a specifically designed course for physicians.