By Ron Finkel, Chair, Project Rozana International and Project Rozana Australia.
Dear colleagues and supporters,
Project Rozana was established in 2013 to promote better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health.
Israel has one of the most advanced socio-medical health systems in the world; Palestinians have a need and a desire to upscale their health system to ensure that every member of their community has access to the same level of healthcare as their Israeli counterparts.
There are a considerable number of Israelis willing to share their knowledge, experience and facilities with the Palestinian community, just as there are a significant number of Palestinians willing to participate in a program of bilateral capacity-building that will eventually contribute to universal health care for Palestinians on a standard enjoyed by Israelis.
I raise this now for two reasons.
The first is that what we are witnessing these days on the ground in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in relation to the status of Jerusalem, must not be allowed to interfere with our mission. Project Rozana will always be blind to nationality, religious belief, gender, sexual orientation or any other marker of difference between people. The second is that we must double our efforts to ensure that our message about building bridges to better understanding between people is as resonant as it has ever been. It’s only through mutual respect and understanding of the other that this will occur.
The health sector is a place where, every minute of every day, and on a broad basis, Israelis and Palestinians demonstrate mutual respect; a space that has withstood violent and distressing events in recent times and will continue to do so.
In light of the above, I want to acknowledge and applaud initiatives such as that of Project Rozana Australian Director, Dr Jamal Rifi AM who recently returned from a Director’s Mission to Israel and the West Bank. Jamal was inspired by what he saw and returned with a commitment to promote our message and advance our mission. He has done so by speaking to his community through the media and in person, and by organising a screening later this month in his inner-west Sydney community of a very special documentary.
That challenging and thought-provoking Israeli documentary is titled, ‘Muhi – Generally Temporary’. It follows the journey from Gaza of a young Palestinian boy and his grandfather as they negotiate the Israeli health system due to Muhi’s complex medical needs. It reflects on a very special relationship with an Israeli friend and mentor who guides them through a labyrinthine system and champions their cause. It also touches on problems they face with Hamas, which is wary of any engagement with Israel. And we are exposed to family dislocation and distress, caused by two conflicting bureaucracies driven as much by suspicion as by a desire to ease the burden of their constituents.
The Directors of Project Rozana will continue to engage locally across the ethnic and religious divide and to support those people on the ground who work tirelessly to deliver better outcomes for Israelis and Palestinians through health and, through their actions, aspire to make the world a better place.