Why Israelis will save their enemies: Israel Today Forum—Dr. Ofer Merin

by | Feb 23, 2015 | What’s Happening

Sunday, March 15, 7:30 pm, Sandler Family Campus

When faced with a decision over which patient to provide medical treatment to first—an alleged Hamas terrorist in critical condition or one of his victims whose wounds were less severe— the medical staff at an Israeli hospital looked beyond politics and personal biases.

They tried to save the life of the man accused of purposefully running his car into bystanders waiting at a light rail station in Jerusalem last October. Five surgeons worked valiantly on their patient, who ultimately did not survive.

The final presenter in the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s 2014-2015 Israel Today Forum will answer the question of “why.”

Why would anyone, particularly Israelis, who are hated and threatened by so many, choose to help an enemy survive?

In a talk that’s free and open to the community, Dr. Ofer Merin will discuss the Israeli viewpoint that holds all life as sacred.

Merin is Deputy Director General, director of Trauma Services, and a cardiac surgeon at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center. Shaare Zedek is the hospital where the accused terrorist and those injured in the attack were treated.

Merin’s discussion will focus not only on the sanctity of life within Israel. He will also share, through his personal experiences, how that Israeli value extends to people around the world.

A Lt. Col. in the Israel Defense Forces reserves, Merin is commander of the IDF Field Hospitals. He heads up a team of IDF first responders who are often the first on the scene— quietly treating victims of natural disasters and wars.

Bill Halprin and his wife Jeri Jo met Merin while on a UJFT mission trip to Israel last summer. Bill Halprin offers Jewish News readers an idea of what that meeting was like, and what this opportunity would mean for those who attend the Forum:

“The trip to Israel my wife and I took in June was truly memorable and something we won’t forget for the rest of our lives. We met so many wonderful people who all had great stories to tell, but one of our favorite speakers was Ofer Merin.

“When he walked into the room, he was so unassuming and down to earth. He began his introduction by telling us about his role as head of the medical response team for the Israeli military, and the expansion of that role into a global humanitarian effort throughout the world.

“He told stories of how his team was first to respond in Haiti, Japan and the Philippines when they were hit with natural disasters. In Haiti they were set up and providing medical aid within seven hours of arriving. They were well-organized in each situation and hit the ground running without interfering with the country in need. They brought everything they needed to assist, and when they completed their service, they left behind all of the supplies so that country could continue on without a break.

“Those stories of global humanitarian response were amazing, but the true eye opener for us was the discussion about the field hospitals that are set up outside the Syrian border. For Israelis to provide medical aid to Syrian refugees and soldiers goes beyond humanitarian, and speaks volumes to the hearts of the Israeli people as a whole. It demonstrates that even brutal enemies are treated as human beings and with respect. If only their surrounding neighbors had those same beliefs, it would be a much better and safer region.

“Ofer Merin is just one example of what makes me proud of the Israeli people, and I think Tidewater will be enthralled with his message.”

For more information and to RSVP (requested by March 12), visit www.JewishVA.org/CRCIsraelToday, or call 757-965-6107.

by Laine M. Rutherford