You probably haven’t heard about this from the national media who spend too much of their time dumping on the state of Israel, but Israelis may have found a new way to change the hearts and minds of their Arab neighbors. It seems that the Syrian civil war has gotten so out of hand that they can’t come up with enough hospitals to treat their wounded soldiers. Syria and Israel are formally at war, and the idea of Syrians being treated in an Israeli hospital once would have been unthinkable. But the brutality of the Syrian civil war has driven some 200 wounded Syrians in the past six months to seek help at the Israeli frontier on the Golan heights, according to the Israeli army. For one man in a hospital bed, who declined to be named for fear of retribution against his family back home, treatment in Israel has been a profoundly transforming experience. “I thank the Israeli army,” he said. “Two and a half years of revolution have changed my opinion of Israel. Look what Bashar Assad (Syria’s President) has done to his people. Everything he says is a lie. He spreads hatred of Israel, but Israel is a friend, not an enemy. The Israelis showed us their humanity.”
Many of the wounded who end up in Israel arrive unconscious and are jarred when they awaken in an Israeli hospital, surrounded by Israeli nurses and doctors, including Arab staff who speak their language. “At first they’re quite scared and closed, but after a few days of treatment they start to absorb that they’re being cared for by Israelis, and they become more receptive,” said Dr. Eyal Sela, who directs head and neck surgery at the Nahariya Hospital. The hospital’s director also added, “We’re helping people simply as human beings. There’s a human tragedy unfolding close by, and we’re moved by the opportunity to help.” He said he felt “privileged to help people who arrive with such serious wounds, when we know that in Syria there’s no chance they’ll get this level of treatment. At the human level, when you touch someone you’ve touched a whole world, and he will pass it on.”
What was it Jesus said? “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:44. Not only is this the godly thing to do but it just might be the most effective path toward world peace.
—Adapted from an article by Joel Greenberg in Jewish World Review
Senior Pastor of Cactus Christian Fellowship