RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING AT THE HEART OF PROJECT ROZANA
“I am standing here tonight because I believe that Project Rozana has the vision and the ability to strengthen the human interaction between Palestinians and Israelis, while striving to build capacity within the Palestinian Health System.”
The first Project Rozana Speaker’s Tour in Australia ended on August 24 2018 after an intense, but very successful one week visit to Melbourne and Sydney by Dr Mushira Aboo Dia.
Mushira is a senior Hadassah Hospital obstetrician and gynaecologist and clinician with the hospital’s Bat Ami Center for Victims of Sexual Assault.
She is also the Chair of Physicians for Human Rights in Israel (PHR), which brings together Jewish and Arab Israeli health professionals who, among many other things, work in under-resourced Palestinian communities through their mobile clinics project.
The purpose of Mushira’s visit was to build awareness to the importance of Project Rozana in Israel.
Mushira spoke powerfully and with insight at well-attended public events in Melbourne and Sydney. She also held private meetings with communal and faith leaders in both cities, which were important opportunities to spread the message about Project Rozana – beginning with its roots in Australia. And to proactively seek the support of key individuals to promote its life-affirming work through their various networks.
Mushira explained that PHR’s mobile clinic program involves two vans with medications and volunteers: Jewish and Arab doctors, nurses, psychologists, and translators, all of whom are citizens of Israel.
Our purpose is to give medical aid and express our solidarity with the Palestinians. PHR also organises medical delegations to Gaza that includes Israeli Palestinian doctors who perform complicated surgeries in the hospitals in Gaza, give training to the doctors and a modest supply of medications and medical equipment they so desperately need.
She said the purpose is to enable people on both sides to get to know each other and to create the most basic human-to-human interaction without even speaking the same language.
I truly believe that medicine is the way for both sides to reconcile their differences. Whether it is in a doctor-patient relationship, an Israeli volunteer who drives a Palestinian mother and her child to an Israeli hospital to get treatment, or a Palestinian and Israeli doctor working together to save the lives of their patients.
Among the highlights of Mushira’s visit:
- Awareness-building, friend and fundraising meetings hosted by Alan and Elizabeth Finkel and Rabbi Ralph Genende in Melbourne.
- A dinner in Sydney hosted by David Gonski, and Bruce and Barbara Solomon at Aria Restaurant.
- A luncheon hosted by Garry Browne and Riana Steyn at the Sydney law firm Bartier Perry.
- An evening at Habo House Sydney and a breakfast hosted by Dr Jamal Rifi (a board member of Project Rozana) in Lakemba, Sydney.
- Dame Marie Bashir, former Governor of NSW.
- Dave Sharma, former Australian Ambassador to Israel and board member of Project Rozana.
- Tony Burke MP, Shadow Minister for the Arts in Federal Parliament.
- Jihad Dib, Shadow Minister for Education in NSW State Parliament.
- Professors Hugh Taylor, Elizabeth Dax, David Copolov, Christine McDonald, Les White and Fred Hilmer.
- Elizabeth Dibbs, Deputy Chancellor of Western Sydney University.
- Maha Abdo, CEO of Muslim Women’s Association.
- Randa Kattan, CEO of Arab Council of NSW.
- Ibrahim Zoabi, CEO of Voice of Islam Radio.
- Nick Kaldas, former NSW Assistant Police Commissioner.
- Directors of AusRelief, Danny Mikati and Wally Ayad.
Ron Finkel, Chair of Project Rozana Australia, observed…
It was evident that people from all of the faith communities that attended recognise how important the health sector is in opening channels of communication between people. The more we can meet on common ground and hear each other’s stories, particularly as they relate to building health capacity in underprivileged or under-resourced communities, the more likely we are to accept the ‘other’ in our midst.
This is the greatest lesson that Project Rozana can teach.
Ron thanked Dr Aboo Dia for her selfless commitment to Project Rozana and for making the time to visit Australia. He also thanked the attendees, hosts, speakers and Project Rozana staff for their contribution.
Below are pictures from the events.