By Barb Arland-Fye
Three Israelis met with Bishop Martin Amos Oct. 27 during their visit to the Quad-Cities to generate support for a hospital that serves more than a million people in Israel and beyond.
The Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities, whose executive director Allan Ross has organized numerous interfaith projects in the Quad Cities, hosted the Israelis and accompanied them to diocesan headquarters to meet the bishop.
Coincidentally, Bishop Amos had recently returned from a trip to the Middle East and had spent some time in Haifa, where The Lady Davis Carmel Medical Center is located.
“We came here to support Carmel hospital and the great work it is doing,” said Professor Ruth Eitan, who works part-time for Marom Philanthropy and Business Group, a philanthropic organization to assist nonprofits in fundraising efforts. She also leads the Foreign Affairs and Special Academic Projects department at Sapir College in southern Israel and teaches political science and history. She’s made multiple trips to the Quad Cities and is helping to coordinate efforts to bring students from St. Ambrose University in Davenport to Israel in January for a course called The Political Economy of Israel.
Sapir College in the south and Carmel Medical Center in the north are located in areas subject to terrorist attacks by Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, Ross said.
Much of the hospital is not sheltered and needs to be in order to continue to serve patients, who come from various communities and faiths, said Dr. Chen Shapira, CEO of The Lady Davis Medical Center.
It’s difficult to provide service to the community during times of crisis, she said. The emergency room area has been sheltered, and the operating rooms area is next. But the project requires $1.5 million to start construction.
Bishop Amos asked the three visitors — including Captain Ronen Nimi, the Naval Attaché at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. — what it will take to achieve peace, so that eventually shelters won’t need to be built.
There are no easy answers, the three said. They expressed disappointment in the unilateral efforts of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, which administers the West Bank, to request U.N. membership and Palestinian statehood. It sends a message of unwillingness to work together for peace, the visitors said.
They spoke with joy of the recent release of Israeli soldier Sgt. Gilad Shalit, held captive five years by Hamas militants. In exchange, the Israelis released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. An American-Israeli accused of espionage in June in Egypt was just released in exchange for 25 Egyptian prisoners.
Captain Nimi, who also is the military advisor to the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, also spoke of the importance of social responsibility for the whole society in his own work with the military. As an example, he cites successful efforts of the Israeli Defense Force to provide education to teenage drop-outs and train them as soldiers. It gives a sense of purpose to teenagers who face a dim future, the captain said. “We don’t exist only to fight and defend, we’re part of the community.”
The hospital, for its part, “has a huge role in community resiliency, in times of war or, to put it more bluntly, in times of crisis,” Eitan said. The hospital’s operation demonstrates the importance of co-existence, added Dr. Shapira, a cardiologist. Staff and patients include Jews, Christians, Bedouins, Muslims and other faith groups. “When people negotiate to work together on a day to day basis, that’s where peace happens.”
Event raises $50,000
Captain Ronen Nimi, Naval Attaché at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C., was guest speaker Oct. 27 at a “Night to Honor Israel Event” presented by the Quad City Association of Evangelicals at the Adler Theater in Davenport. The event raised more than $50,000. Half the money will go toward the renovation of “sheltered” operating rooms at the Carmel Medical Center in Haifa and half will go to help Russian immigrants integrate into Israeli society, said Allan Ross, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities.