In this week’s Good News Weekend post I want to focus on the different ways that Arabs relate with Israel.
This week the Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won the gold medal at the Judo World Championship in Tokyo (h/t Reality):
Netanya-born judoka Sagi Muki won the gold medal at the Judo World Championships in Tokyo on Wednesday – the first time an Israeli male judoka has received this honor.
The Israeli sang along from his perch on the podium as “Hatikva” played in Tokyo and the Israeli flag waved.
On his way to the top, Muki, 27, faced six opponents, gaining the upper hand on all of them, winning the gold medal in the under 81 kg. category.
It's GOLD for Sagi Muki at the World Champs in Tokyo
Mazel tov Sagi pic.twitter.com/IKb2yNf2PV
— SussexFriendsofIsrael (@SussexFriends) August 28, 2019
Heartiest mazal tov and huge Kol hakavod to Sagi Muki on his fantastic win!
But as you can see from the above video, it was not all mannerly and polite as judo is supposed to be. After Sagi’s victory over his Egyptian opponent in the semi-finals, the Egyptian refused to shake his hand. This is something that has become so common in sporting events that we hardly notice it any more. But with this mindset, the Arab world is never going to make any progress.
However there is another way for Arabs to behave towards Israel. This is personified by Dr. Shaden Salameh who has just been appointed as the head of the Emergency Room in Hadassah Hospital on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus). As an Arab woman, although she found it not an easy journey, Dr. Salameh persevered and deservedly ended up in this very important position.
Here is an excerpt from The Media Line interview with Dr. Salameh at the JPost link:
TML: How did you get there? This certainly could not have been easy.
Dr. Salameh: No, it’s not, but I’m very motivated by difficulties. I grew up in the North, in a small village. It’s near Nazareth. I came over to Jerusalem in the mid ’90s to study medicine in the medical school at Hadassah University… Hebrew University and Hadassah. I graduated [in] about 2001, and since then I’m [at] Hadassah. I completed my internal medicine specialization here and since 2006, I’ve worked in the emergency department, first as a trainee and after that as a senior doctor. I just love the place and the specialization.
TML: People would say that you can’t do what you did. People would say, how can an Israeli who’s also Arab get to the position that you did?
Dr. Salameh: Yeah, they told me that all the way. Even before I was accepted to the medical school. They told me you have no chance because you come from a small village; you know it’s very difficult, [the] Hebrew… Even before I was accepted to the medical school here, they told me I had no chance to be accepted. You know there are a lot of challenges over there – a lot of other students who want to be accepted and your chances are very low. But as I said before, the greater the challenge, the greater I’m motivated. I love challenges… I look at the threats, or at the challenges or the barriers or the obstacles, as an opportunity.
TML: What are those obstacles?
Dr. Salameh: You know, I’m special and different. I come from a very small community in the village. I never lived alone, I never left the city for more than a couple of hours or one or two days. Just to move to a big city, to Jerusalem with a different language. Okay, I studied Hebrew [at] school, but it’s not the same, not at all. And it’s quite hard. You know the people around you – not the family, the family was a great support for me – but the other people, like, doubt your ability, so it’s quite challenging every day.
TML: Did your family have a problem with you working in an Israeli hospital?
Dr. Salameh: No, not at all. They were proud that I’m holding this position, in this country. No, not at all. Very proud.
TML: Do you feel you are a role model for other young women who aspire to go into medicine? Do people from your village look at you as a role model?
Dr. Salameh: I hope so – you have to ask them. Being a director, a senior doctor in the emergency department, is quite challenging, as [is] being a mother for small children, but I proved that you can do it. [At] this stage, I can say for the young medical students and the young women doctors, dream big, as Henrietta Szold said once, and persist and your dream will come true. A lot of obstacles may be in the way; I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s possible.
TML: Let’s go and look at those obstacles. I’m trying to understand because everyone has them. What was the worst situation that you remembered encountering when you thought you weren’t going to make it – [that] this was too hard?
Dr. Salameh: Well, the first year of medical school was very hard for me. [I] came not prepared, with not enough background [in] chemistry, biology, and it was hard for me. And besides that, the language; everything was in Hebrew and English, and my mother-tongue is Arabic. It was very hard for me in the beginning to understand even the lecturer and to write down the notes and all these small things. I came from excellence. I was a very good student in high school, so it was very challenging for me. Maybe a small obstacle, a small barrier, but it was [just] in the beginning.
What a huge inspiration is Dr. Salameh, to Arab women, in fact to all women from all backgrounds and nationalities. It is never easy to become a doctor, and for married women it is extra hard, managing a household, children, family obligations and career.
Kol hakavod to Dr. Salameh on this wonderful achievement and to Hadassah Hospital for this worthy appointment. We wish Dr. Salameh every success in her new position.
Food for thought for the weekend.