19 Sep 2022

Extraordinary Minds

Five years ago, I toured Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. I was stunned by the scope of the work there, and by the absolute commitment of all staff. The multi-acre campus is home to an eclectic blend of culture, medicine, innovation, and even history. We drove past a series of old barracks from early in Israel’s modern history, and then lo and behold we pulled up in front of a building housing research that is so cutting-edge, I wonder if we are still only in the 21st century.

I also witnessed two wholly different realities that illustrate how complex Israel’s relationship with the Palestinians really is.

In one section of Sheba Medical Center, I saw small Palestinian children being given life-saving treatment by Israeli doctors. Precious children fighting for a chance at life. In their rooms with them were burka-clad mothers and grandmothers.

A few minutes later, I was on another floor, just down the hall from a very special patient. During one of the actions against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, an IDF soldier was running into a building when a shell exploded in a courtyard just behind him. A piece of shrapnel hit him in the head and left him between life and death, and, in a sense, he is still in that frozen moment in time.

The soldier’s brain injuries were so severe that they wouldn’t let me see him. In fact, I don’t know a lot of detail of his present condition, but I know they are learning how to help him and future patients. His mother did come out to speak with me; she is there with him every day, and will be for the rest of her life. Her advocacy for him, I was told by a doctor, has inspired all of them to push their own limits in order to give him some quality of life.

In the past five years, I’ve remembered him and his mother. Here they are, in the same facility as children of Palestinians that live in Gaza. Their political and religious and cultural differences melt away in some sense, as the goal among Sheba’s staff is to save and improve quality of life.

There is also a section of the hospital complex dedicated to Ariel Sharon and his beloved wife, Lily, who were supporters of the hospital.

I tell you these stories because I read this week in the Jerusalem Post that Newsweek has named Sheba Medical Center the 13th best “smart” hospital. I’m not surprised.

“’We are committed to continuing to lead in the development and implementation of medical innovation, in clinical research and in treatment to meet the medical challenges of the coming decade,’ said Prof. Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center. ‘This is how we can provide each and every patient with the most advanced, personal and best treatment.’”

The research even includes AI research!

“Prof. Eyal Zimlichman, Deputy Director General of Medicine and Innovation at Sheba, added: ‘We are proud at Sheba to receive the international recognition that all our employees deserve. Their hard work and dedication make the innovation and high quality of care at Sheba possible. The digital transformation process which started at Sheba a few years ago, and includes the implementation of Artificial Intelligence, telemedicine, robotics and digital tools for the patient, helps us achieve our goals of high quality, effective and efficient care.’”

Get this: Sheba sees one million patients per year! One million. The staff includes over 1,200 doctors and 2,300 nurses.

I applaud Sheba Medical Center for the recognition it receives, but more for the selfless and total dedication its staff gives to patients from a wide variety of backgrounds.

It is a leading light not only in Israel and the Middle East, but in the world.


12 Sep 2022

Trouble in the North

Hezbollah is at it again. Or, I should say, continuing its activities of the last four decades.

There was a physical altercation between residents of the south Lebanon Christian village of Rmeish and Hezbollah operatives situated in a nearby Green Without Borders1 facility. Lebanese security forces located a cell of suspected ISIS operatives in the south Lebanon village of Bint Jbeil.

(Oddly, Hezbollah is also involved in a propaganda campaign aimed at weakening the resolve of IDF soldiers. I can’t imagine a more wasteful activity. The Twitter accounts of activists affiliated with Hezbollah, such as journalist Ali Shoeib and the Tansikeya website, posted militant tweets to weaken the morale of IDF soldiers. For example, a notice was posted with a caption, in Hebrew, reading, “Say goodbye to your mother,” along with quotes from Ibrahim al-Amin’s article.)

Pretty lame.

Also, with Operation Waking Dawn in the Gaza Strip, Hezbollah is collaborating with Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Ibrahim al-Amin, the editor of the Lebanese al-Akhbar and a senior figure in Hezbollah media, described the preparations the organization was making for the confrontation and analyzed the various possibilities for an outbreak of violence with Israel and the United States. He said Hezbollah’s objective was to destroy the IDF, and Hezbollah had capabilities which even Iran did not possess. The article was accompanied by pictures of UAVs and infographics of the kinds of Iranian-made rockets in Hezbollah’s arsenal, along with rocket trajectories and UAV (drone) ranges

Now, you have to remember, the Arab world is overrun with “Baghdad Bob” types, spokesmen that exaggerate the threats to Israel. It’s chest-beating with nothing behind it. One doubts Hezbollah has capabilities Iran doesn’t possess.

Much of the activity from Lebanon sounds like teenage thugs. At the invitation of Lebanese Minister of Culture Mohammad el-Mortada, eight Lebanese government ministers and the secretary of the government toured along Lebanon’s border with Israel to increase public awareness of the southern part of the country. They began at al- Naqoura in the west and drove along the border to the villages of Houla and Adaisseh in the east, where they threw rocks at the Israeli border.

On July 30, there was an altercation between Hezbollah terrorists and locals in southern Lebanon, over cutting down trees near a Hezbollah site. The Lebanese Army tried to intervene and Hezbollah threatened everyone by taking out guns.

Do these things sound like the activities of mature adults? If only the Muslim culture could discipline itself and focus on productive goals, there’s no telling what they could accomplish for their people.

Instead, we have Lebanese government officials throwing rocks at Israelis!

A video uploaded to the social media after the tour showed Walid Fayad, minister of water and energy, and Hector Hajjar, minister of social affairs, throwing rocks at Israel; the video went viral. Many social media users were critical of the ministers, noting that while the ministers were making jokes and having fun throwing rocks at the border, the Lebanese had one hour of electricity a day and 80% lived below the poverty line. On the other hand, Ali Shoeib, who works for al-Manar TV, supported the rock-throwing as “part of the agenda against Israel.”

Unreal. I think this Keystone Cops approach actually moves them farther away from being able to seriously threaten Israel.

As Christians, and as supporters of Israel, we should pray daily for the people in that region. Pray specifically that the people of Lebanon will be touched by the Holy Spirit and will turn from their wicked and unproductive ways, and reach their full potential—which is considerable.