Israeli doctors transport a Syrian patient from the IDF ambulance to the emergency room. (Photo courtesy of Ziv Medical Center)
The oddest-case-scenario came true in the wee hours this morning at Ziv Medical Center, located in northern Israel near the Syrian border: A 20-year-old Syrian woman gave birth to a healthy, 3.2-kilogram baby boy.
The woman is one of over 450 Syrians who have been treated in Israel so far this year. But unlike the others, said Ziv Medical Center spokesman Gil Maor, this young patient hadn’t been injured by a bomb or sniper fire.
“She’s a nurse in Syria,” said Maor. “She lives near Quinetra, and since the area is being sieged, she couldn’t reach a hospital — that’s what she told us. And there were no midwives who could help her. Because she’s a nurse, she knew that [injured] Syrians were coming to Israel. So she said she’d try her luck to reach the border and try to get picked up by the IDF.”
The woman succeeded, and — after being picked up at the border and rushed to Ziv in an IDF ambulance — she gave birth to her firstborn at 3:11 a.m. today.
According to a hospital press release, the woman said the following of her experience (roughly translated from Hebrew):
“There were no village midwives who could help me deliver. I am a nurse by profession, and I knew that Syrians were treated in Israel. … So when I felt that labor had begun, I quickly brought myself near the border, in hopes that the Israeli army would allow me to get medical assistance. Fortunately, the Israeli army saw that I was suffering from severe pain, picked me up and took me to a hospital in Israel. I was afraid to come to Israel, but I was more worried to lose my baby during a home birth. The obstetric team and Israeli doctors treated me with respect and sensitivity and the birth was uneventful. I really do not feel like I’m in an enemy country; everyone is helping me and cares about me.
… For a long time we have been fed mainly rice in the village, due to the closures. This is the first time in a long time that I have eaten meat and vegetables. I feel good and I am relieved that I can eat and feed my cute little baby. My treatment is great. I thank everyone for the devoted care, concern and understanding.”
The question at the back of everybody’s mind: Will the child be considered an Israeli citizen? The issue did come up in an interview for my L.A. Jewish Journal cover story this week, “Wounded Syrians find care in Israel that is no longer available at home.” Sara Paperin, international liaison at the Western Galilee Medical Center (a hospital in nearby Nahariya that is also treating Syrians), said one pregnant woman who was about to pop decided to leave the hospital before her older daughter had been discharged, specifically to avoid finding out what would happen if her baby was born in Israel.
However, Israeli immigration attorney Tamar Klarfeld said in a phone interview that the baby is “definitely not an Israeli citizen. Nobody gets Israeli citizenship unless they’re born to Israeli parents.” Concerning any problems the baby might have once he’s back in Syria, Klarfeld said she couldn’t give legal advice over the phone, but pondered: “I suppose [the mother] could say the baby was born in Syria.”
Ziv spokesman Maor said the young Syrian woman who gave birth this morning was more caught up with “the normal concerns of every mother. She also came without the baby’s father, so she didn’t have anyone to comfort her. And she told us that they don’t have enough food over there.”
If the mother and child continue in good health, they will be discharged within the next two to three days, said Maor — at which point the IDF will come pick them up and take them back to Syria.
In a sidebar for this week’s cover story, we described the spectacular medical exchange that the IDF is running between Syria and Israel, right near Quinetra:
When the IDF detects one or more war casualties approaching the new high-tech fence Israel built this year to keep out the flying parts of Syria’s civil war, “We open little passageways so they can come through,” the soldier said.
“We’re not allowed to cross the fence into Syria,” he said. “It’s a very gray area. And we can’t do it at night, because it’s too dangerous.”
Once the wounded are inside Israel, a temporary medical station is set up at the site of entry, and a handful of IDF doctors rush out to operate. From there, depending on the severity of the patients’ wounds, they are either released back to Syria, transferred to the IDF field hospital or transported via IDF ambulance to one of three medical centers in Israel providing more long-term care.
Update: Here’s a photo of Israel’s newest Syrian patient, taken by Hannah Bikel.
A common but mistaken reading of the current strategic situation in the Middle East presents the region as approaching the end of a period of instability. The “return of the Arab state” is one of the more arresting refrains that this perspective has produced.
According to this view, the wars in Syria and in Iraq are drawing to a close. The defeat of the Islamic State in these countries represents the eclipse of the political ambitions of Salafi jihadi Islamism for the foreseeable future. Assad is set to restore his repressive but stable rule in Syria. In Iraq, the firm reaction by the government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to the Kurdish bid for independence has ended prospects of the imminent fragmentation of the country. In Lebanon, attempts by Sunni jihadis to export the Syrian war have failed, and all is quiet.
In July 2016, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria (pictured in front at center)—the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church—hosts Ignatius Aphrem II (left), patriarch of Antioch and All East of the Syriac Orthodox Church, and Aram I, head of Lebanon’s Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
While Christianity traces its birthplace to the Middle East, that region has been arguably the most hostile area for the religion in recent years. A new report by the Christian charity group Open Doors has found that most of Israel’s neighbors, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories, are among the world’s most dangerous places for Christians.
Kingdom says Jerusalem agreed to pay compensation over deaths of three people, in order to end diplomatic standoff
Jordanian protesters wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration near the Israeli embassy in the capital Amman on July 28, 2017, calling for the shutting down the of the embassy, expelling the ambassador, and canceling the 1994 peace treaty with Israel. (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWI)
Israel is paying $5 million in compensation to the families of two people shot dead by an Israeli embassy guard last year, as well as a Jordanian judge killed in a 2014 incident, diplomats in Jordan told the al-Rai newspaper Saturday.
Ultra-Orthodox women and children attend a ceremony to welcome new Torah scrolls in a neighborhood of Jerusalem, Oct. 1 2014.
Reuven K., who is about 30 years old, is an ultra-Orthodox Hasidic man who lives in Betar Illit, one of Israel’s most prominent ultra-Orthodox localities. Reuven studies in a yeshiva, a Jewish school for Talmudic learning, but works half of each day as a wholesale merchant selling religious ritual supplies. His wife, Bracha, works as a bookkeeper in a governmental institution.
Palestinian boss Mahmoud Abbas recently declared that Israel is “a colonial enterprise that has nothing to do with Jewishness.” Moses, King David and thousands of years of Jewish history would disagree. Israel and the Jews are part of the story of human civilization. Over 50% of the human race has a holy book that tells of the Jewish journey to Israel. That includes Mohammed’s own copy of the Koran.
Israel isn’t a “colonial enterprise.” Palestine is.
Anyone who wants to find out where the name Israel comes from can open the Book of Genesis 32:29. The story even appears in Islamic hadiths. But where does “Palestine” really come from?
It may not be a shooting war. For the most part. (Though don’t tell that to some Republicans at a charity game practice who were targeted by a Bernie Sanders supporter.) But it’s a war all the same.
The war is still being fought with paper and protests. But it’s based on irreconcilable differences between parts of the country. Much like the ones that brought on the war between brothers.
This is a topic that I’ve written about quite often over this past year. Rush Limbaugh saw fit to read and promote some of those pieces. And now I’ll be giving a talk on the subject at the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC. It’ll take place from Jan 20-22. I’m scheduled to speak on the 21st, but there are plenty of other great speakers there.
The speech was loud and clear. It wasn’t just the “may your house be demolished” curse that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas fired at the leader of the strongest world power. It was the utterly delusional ideology, with false claims that only make the Palestinians sink deeper into a path of delusions and collapse.
The reactions were predictable: We have to understand him. He’s under a lot of pressure. He has no political horizon. The Palestinians are desperate. He didn’t really mean it.
A document drafted by members of the global Christian community convening at the 3rd International Christian Forum held in Moscow, detailed how over the past 10 years the Middle East’s Christian population has shrunk by 80 percent and warned that unless current trends are reversed Christianity “will vanish” from its ancient homelands in a few years’ time. Around the year 2000, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, whereas today there are only 100,000, roughly a 93 percent drop, the document notes. In Syria, the largest cities “have lost almost all of their Christian population.”
Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS: “May your house be destroyed.”
This imprecation does not merely relate to someone’s present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation, and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.
The 1964 presidential election was the second in which I voted. Lyndon Johnson who had succeeded John Kennedy was running against Barry Goldwater. I didn’t like either candidate: Johnson’s personal characteristics were obnoxious, though he had achieved much, especially in the area of civil rights; Goldwater’s personal characterizes seemed fine, but I disapproved of his conservative political views.
I was shocked to read an article in Fact magazine, based on interviews with more than 1,000 psychiatrists, which concluded that Goldwater was mentally unstable and psychologically unfit to be president. It was Lyndon Johnson whose personal fitness to hold the highest office I questioned. Barry Goldwater seemed emotionally stable with excellent personal characteristics, but highly questionable politics. The article was utterly unpersuasive, and in the end, I reluctantly voted for Lyndon Johnson. Barry Goldwater went back to the Senate, where he served with great distinction and high personal morality. Lyndon Johnson got us deeply into an unwinnable war that hurt our nation. The more than 1,000 psychiatrists, it turned out, were dead wrong in their diagnosis and predictions.