A Rap Song Lays Bare Israel’s Jewish-Arab Fracture — and Goes Viral

An example of frank, open and unvarnished dialogue, leading to mutual respect and understnading:

Uriya Rosenman grew up on Israeli military bases and served as an officer in an elite unit of the army. His father was a combat pilot. His grandfather led the paratroopers who captured the Western Wall from Jordan in 1967.

Sameh Zakout, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, grew up in the mixed Arab-Jewish town of Ramla. His family was driven out of its home in the 1948 war of Israeli independence, known to Palestinians as the “Nakba,” or catastrophe. Many of his relatives fled to Gaza.

Facing each other in a garage over a small plastic table, the two hurl ethnic insults and clichés at each other, tearing away the veneer of civility overlaying the seething resentments between the Jewish state and its Palestinian minority in a rap video that has gone viral in Israel.

The video, “Let’s Talk Straight,” which has garnered more than four million views on social media since May, couldn’t have landed at a more apt time, after the eruption two months ago of Jewish-Arab violence that turned many mixed Israeli cities like Lod and Ramla into Jewish-Arab battlegrounds.

By shouting each side’s prejudices at each other, at times seemingly on the verge of violence, Mr. Rosenman and Mr. Zakout have produced a work that dares listeners to move past stereotypes and discover their shared humanity.

Mr. Rosenman, 31, says he wants to change Israel from within by challenging its most basic reflexes. “I think that we are scared and are controlled by fear,” he says.

Mr. Zakout, 37, wants to change Israel by overcoming their forebears’ traumas. “I am not emphasizing my Palestinian identity,” he says. “I am a human being. Period. We are human beings first.”

At first viewing, the video seems like anything but a humanistic enterprise.

Mr. Rosenman, the first to speak, launches into a relentless three-minute anti-Palestinian tirade.

“Don’t cry racism. Stop the whining. You live in clans, fire rifles at weddings,” he taunts, his body tensed. “Abuse your animals, steal cars, beat your own women. All you care about is Allah and the Nakba and jihad and the honor that controls your urges.”

The camera circles them. A guitar screeches.

Mr. Zakout tugs at his beard, looks away with disdain. He’s heard it all before, including that oft-repeated line: “I am not a racist, my gardener is Arab.”

Then Mr. Zakout, his voice rising, delivers the other side of the most intractable of Middle Eastern stories.

“Enough,” he says. “I am a Palestinian and that’s it, so shut up. I don’t support terror, I’m against violence, but 70 years of occupation — of course there’ll be resistance. When you do a barbecue and celebrate independence, the Nakba is my grandmother’s reality. In 1948 you kicked out my family, the food was still warm on the table when you broke into our homes, occupying and then denying. You can’t speak Arabic, you know nothing of your neighbor, you don’t want us to live next to you, but we build your homes.”

Mr. Rosenman fidgets. His assertive confidence drains away as he’s whisked through the looking-glass of Arab-Jewish incomprehension.

The video pays homage to Joyner Lucas’s “I’m Not Racist,” a similar exploration of the stereotypes and blindness that lock in the Black-white fracture in the United States.

Mr. Rosenman, an educator whose job was to explain the conflict to young Israeli soldiers, had grown increasingly frustrated with “how things, with the justification of past traumas for the Jews, were built on rotten foundations.”

“Some things about my country are amazing and pure,” he said in an interview. “Some are very rotten. They are not discussed. We are motivated by trauma. We are a post-traumatic society. The Holocaust gives us some sort of back-way legitimacy to not plan for the future, not understand the full picture of the situation here, and to justify action we portray as defending ourselves.”

For example, Israel, he believes, should stop building settlements “on what could potentially be a Palestinian state” in the West Bank, because that state is needed for peace.

Looking for a way to hold a mirror to society and reveal its hypocrisies, Mr. Rosenman contacted a friend in the music industry, who suggested he meet Mr. Zakout, an actor and rapper.

They started talking in June last year, meeting for hours on a dozen occasions, building trust. They recorded the song in Hebrew and Arabic in March and the video in mid-April.

Their timing was impeccable. A few weeks later, the latest Gaza war broke out. Jews and Arabs clashed across Israel.

Their early conversations were difficult.

They argued over 1948. Mr. Zakout talked about his family in Gaza, how he missed them, how he wanted to get to know his relatives who lost their homes. He talked about the Jewish “arrogance that we feel as Arabs, the bigotry.”

“My Israeli friends told me I put them in front of the mirror,” he said.

Mr. Rosenman said he understood Mr. Zakout’s longing for a united family. That was natural. But why did Arab armies attack the Jews in 1948? “We were happy with what we got,” he said. “You know we had no other option.”

The reaction to the video has been overwhelming, as if it bared something hidden in Israel. Invitations have poured in — to appear at conferences, to participate in documentaries, to host concerts, to record podcasts.

“I’ve been waiting for someone to make this video for a long time,” said one commenter, Arik Carmi. “How can we fight each other when we are more like brothers than we will admit to ourselves? Change won’t come before we let go of the hate.”

The two men, now friends, are at work on a second project, which will examine how self-criticism in a Jewish and Arab society might bring change. It will ask the question: How can you do better, rather than blaming the government?

Mr. Zakout recently met Mr. Rosenman’s grandfather, Yoram Zamosh, who planted the Israeli flag at the Western Wall after Israeli paratroopers stormed into the Old City in Jerusalem during the 1967 war. Most of Mr. Zamosh’s family from Berlin was murdered by the Nazis at the Chelmno extermination camp.

“He is a unique and special guy,” Mr. Zakout said of Mr. Zamosh. “He reminds me a little of my grandfather, Abdallah Zakout, his energy, his vibes. When we spoke about his history and pain, I understood his fear, and at the same time he understood my side.”

The video aims to bring viewers to that same kind of understanding.

“That’s the beginning,” Mr. Zakout said. “We are not going to solve this in a week. But at least it is something, the first step in a long journey.”

Mr. Rosenman added: “What we do is meant to scream out loud that we are not scared anymore. We are letting go of our parents’ traumas and building a better future for everyone together.”

The last words in the video, from Mr. Zakout, are: “We both have no other country, and this is where the change begins.”

They turn to the table in front of them, and silently share a meal of pita and hummus.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/07/21/world/middleeast/israel-palestinian-rap-video.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=World%20News

Palestinians start applying for citizenship under family unification laws

Of note. Creating ‘facts on the ground’ while the law has not been renewed:
Palestinians who are married to Israeli citizens but who have not been able to obtain Israeli citizenship or residency due to the Citizenship Law which the government failed to renew this week have begun filing requests for such standing with the Interior Ministry.
NGOs, including the Hamoked civil rights group, have begun filing requests for citizenship and residency on behalf of their clients, and are encouraging others to do so as well.
There are some 9,200 Palestinians married to Israeli Arab citizens who have the most basic “stay permits” allowing them to reside in the country but which have to be renewed every one or two years, and another 3,500 who due to special circumstances were able to obtain temporary residency visas.
They will all now be able to apply for citizenship, although since the Arab population of east Jerusalem generally shuns citizenship in favor of residency those with stay permits in the city will likely request residency visas.
Until now, the 2003 Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law prevented Palestinians who marry Israeli Arab citizens from obtaining citizenship through naturalization, as is available to other foreign national spouses of Israelis.
The law was passed on security grounds and later extended to Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Iranians who marry Israelis.
But the law has been criticized by human rights groups as discriminatory and on humanitarian grounds, and was opposed by coalition partners Ra’am and Meretz.
Although compromises were found, two Ra’am MKs abstained, while Yamina rebel MK Amichai Shikli voted against, and the law was toppled.
This means that those Palestinians married to Israeli citizens can now start the application process with the Interior Ministry for citizenship or residency like any other foreign national.
They will be able to apply first for a B1 visa, then an A5 temporary residency visa, and ultimately for citizenship if they do not live in east Jerusalem.
Jessica Montell, Executive Director of the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, said that her organization represents approximately 400 families and that it has begun filing visa applications for them to the Interior Ministry.
In some families not just the spouse needs to obtain residency, the children do as well, she said.
Asked whether the ministry might hold up the processing of applications while the government ponders new steps, Montell insisted that the “Ministry doesn’t have right to drag its feet,” and that it had to “respect people’s rights.”
She said the standard response time for a request to a government authority is 45 days, and that if her clients did not receive responses in such time they would take the issue to court.
“The ministry cannot ignore these requests for a year in the hope a new law is passed,” said Montell.
“Israelis are just as safe as they were before the law expired. The authorities still have all the tools necessary to prevent dangerous people from entering the country, but without this law we will be a little bit more free and equal,” she said.
“Without this law, all Israeli citizens and residents have an equal right to fall in love and build a family, and that’s good news for these families and for everyone who cares about basic human rights.”
Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked has said however that she intends to bring the law back to the Knesset for a vote in the coming weeks in a fresh attempt to get it approved, meaning that the gateway to citizenship for such people may soon be closed.
Shaked has emphasized the security basis of the law, stating this week that the majority of terror attacks carried out by Arab Israeli citizens have been committed either by individuals who obtained some form of status in Israel through family reunification under the Citizenship Law, or by their offspring.
The Shin Bet said in 2018 that since 2001 some 155 individuals involved in terror activities obtained entry to Israel under family reunification laws.
But the law has also been justified to preserve Israel’s Jewish majority, something emphasized this week by Shaked, as well as  more centrist figures like Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and, a few weeks ago, Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

Source: Palestinians start applying for citizenship under family unification laws

Israel blocks law that keeps out Palestinian spouses

Of note, both the discriminatory substance as well as the identity politics:

Israel’s parliament early on Tuesday failed to renew a law that bars Arab citizens from extending citizenship or residency rights to spouses from the occupied West Bank and Gaza, in a tight vote that raised doubts about the viability of the country’s new coalition government.

The 59-59 vote, which came after an all-night session of the Knesset, marked a major setback for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

The new Israeli leader, who had hoped to find a compromise between his hard-line Yamina party and the dovish factions in his disparate coalition, instead suffered a stinging defeat in a vote he reportedly described as a referendum on the new government. The vote means the law is now set to expire at midnight Tuesday.

The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law was enacted as a temporary measure in 2003, at the height of the second intifada, or uprising, when Palestinians launched scores of deadly attacks inside Israel. Proponents said Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza were susceptible to recruitment by armed groups and that security vetting alone was insufficient.

Under it, Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of Israel’s population, have had few if any avenues for bringing spouses from the West Bank and Gaza into Israel. Critics, including many left-wing and Arab lawmakers, say it’s a racist measure aimed at restricting the growth of Israel’s Arab minority, while supporters say it’s needed for security purposes and to preserve Israel’s Jewish character.

The law has been renewed annually and appeared to have the support of a large majority in parliament, which is dominated by hard-line nationalist parties. But former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and his allies decided to oppose it to embarrass Bennett and harm his coalition, which includes a collection of eight parties across the political spectrum, including a small Islamist Arab party.

Interior Minister Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of Bennett’s Yamina party, said the opposition move to block the law’s renewal would lead to thousands more applications for citizenship. She accused Netanyahu and his allies of choosing “petty and ugly politics, and let the country burn.”

Amichai Chikli, a renegade member of Yamina who voted with the opposition, said the outcome was a sign of deeper issues.

“Israel needs a functioning Zionist government, and not a mismatched patchwork that is reliant on” the votes of Arab lawmakers, said Chikli. He was the only member of his party to oppose the new coalition-led government last month.

Netanyahu, ousted by the new coalition after 12 years as prime minister, made clear his political goals.

“With all due respect for this law, the importance of toppling the government is greater,” Netanyahu said Monday.

Bennett reportedly proposed a compromise with liberal members of the coalition that would have extended the law by six months while offering residency rights to some 1,600 Arab families, a fraction of those affected. But the measure was defeated, in part because two Arab members of the coalition abstained. The vote exposed the deep divisions and the fragility of the new government.

The decision, however, gave some hope to Arab families that have been affected by the law. The law has created an array of difficulties for thousands of Palestinian families that span the war-drawn and largely invisible frontiers separating Israel from east Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, territories it seized in the 1967 war that the Palestinians want for a future state.

“You want your security, it’s no problem, you can check each case by itself,” said Taiseer Khatib, an Arab citizen of Israel whose wife of more than 15 years, from the West Bank city of Jenin, must regularly apply for permits to live with him and their three children in Israel.

“There’s no need for this collective punishment just because you are Palestinian,” he said during a protest outside the Knesset on Monday ahead of the vote.

The law has been continually renewed even after the uprising wound down in 2005 and the number of attacks plummeted. Today, Israel allows more than 100,000 Palestinian workers from the West Bank to enter on a regular basis.

Male spouses over the age of 35 and female spouses over the age of 25, as well as some humanitarian cases, can apply for the equivalent of a tourist permit, which must be regularly renewed. The holders of such permits are ineligible for driver’s licenses, public health insurance and most forms of employment. Palestinian spouses from Gaza have been completely banned since the militant Hamas group seized power there in 2007.

The law does not apply to the nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers who live in the West Bank, who have full Israeli citizenship. Under Israel’s Law of Return, Jews who come to Israel from anywhere in the world are eligible for citizenship.

Israel’s Arab minority has close familial ties to Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and largely identifies with their cause. Arab citizens view the law as one of several forms of discrimination they face in a country that legally defines itself as a Jewish nation-state.

Palestinians who are unable to get permits but try to live with their spouses inside Israel are at risk of deportation. Couples that move to the West Bank live under Israeli military occupation.

The citizenship law also applies to Jewish Israelis who marry Palestinians from the territories, but such unions are extremely rare.

Source: Israel blocks law that keeps out Palestinian spouses

Poland, Israel in diplomatic spat over Poland’s property law

Ongoing Polish government denial:

Poland and Israel have summoned each other’s diplomats in a growing dispute over Poland’s planned changes to property restitution rules that Israel and Jewish organizations say would prevent Jewish claims for compensation or property seized during the Holocaust and communist times.

On Monday, Israeli charge d ’affaires ​Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon met with Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski, who insisted the new regulations do not bar any property claims, which should be made through courts. Poland also says it mustn’t be made responsible for property seizures by Nazi Germany during its World War II occupation of Poland.

“These regulations are not directed against anyone,” Jablonski said, adding that there is a lot of misunderstanding of their aim as they give the law a steady framework.

Jablonski later said Ben-Ari Yaalon repeated the embassy’s statement from last week, which called the new regulations “immoral” and said they “will have a serious impact” on bilateral relations.

Poland’s ambassador to Israel, Marek Magierowski, was at the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Sunday, explaining the new regulations made to align with a 2015 ruling by the top constitutional court.

Poland’s parliament is processing the changes to prevent ownership and other administrative decisions from being declared void after 30 years. It says this is a response to fraud and irregularities that have emerged in the restitution process. The changes still require approval from the Senate and the president.

The World Jewish Restitution Organization said it was “deeply disappointed” by Poland’s response to the concerns.

“The house or shop or factory in a town in Poland affected by this legislation was not taken by Germany, it was taken by Poland. It sits today in Poland and its use has benefited Poland for over 70 years. It is time to recognize this fact and for Poland to do justice for those who suffered so much,” said the group’s chief, Gideon Taylor.

Last week, the U.S. State Department weighed in, with spokesperson Ned Price tweeting that the changes were a “step in the wrong direction” and urged Poland “not to move this legislation forward.”

Before World War II, Poland was home to Europe’s largest Jewish community of some 3.5 million people. Most were killed in the Holocaust under Nazi Germany’s occupation and their property was confiscated. Poland’s post-war communist authorities seized those properties, along with the property of non-Jewish owners in Warsaw and other cities. The end of communism in 1989 opened the door to restitution claims, most of which would be coming from Poles.

The still unresolved matter has been a constant source of bitterness and political tension between Poland and Israel.

In 2001, a draft law foreseeing compensation for seized private property was approved in parliament but vetoed by President Aleksander Kwasniewski. He claimed it violated social equality principles and would hurt Poland’s economic development, implying that compensation claims would result in large payouts. He also said individual claims should be made through the courts.

Poland is the only European country that has not offered any compensation for private property seized by the state in its recent history. Only the remaining communal Jewish property, like some synagogues, prayer houses and cemeteries, mostly in disrepair, have been returned where possible or compensated for.

Source: Poland, Israel in diplomatic spat over Poland’s property law

Galon: There’s something other than security behind Israel’s citizenship law

Of note:

During the next two weeks, the Knesset is expected to vote on the Citizenship and Entry Into Israel Law (Temporary Provision), which has been renewed . This law violates the basic rights of Arab citizens of Israel to family life and equality, and its purpose – as attorney Dafna Holz-Lechner, who represented Meretz and me in petitions to the High Court of Justice has argued – is to prevent them from living in Israel with their relatives from the territories. But this time there is a political problem: Likud and the parties of its cancerous bloc have announced that they will not vote in favor of the law, and the United Arab List has also said it will oppose it.

One thing is already clear: Despite the argument of the right – which the center, in its cowardice, has adopted over the years – this law does not prevent any “security risks.” Firstly, the Shin Bet security service has already stated that since 2018 no one eligible for family reunification has been involved in terrorism. Second, Justice Edmond Levy, who during a 2006 High Court hearing supported the law solely as an interim measure, opposed it by 2012, and ridiculed the security argument, since, after all, Israel allows Palestinian workers to enter its territory every day. Third, if there were a security risk, Likud would not oppose the law; it’s inconceivable that Likud would seek to endanger state security just to overthrow a government not headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, right?

The law’s purpose has always been to serve as a means of demographic control. The law proves that the word “citizenship” is a meaningless one in Israel, since no one would have dared oppose a law allowing Jewish Israelis to live with settlers from the West Bank, even though there have been settlers involved in terrorism. We still haven’t forgotten that in 2005 they tried to set alight a gas storage facility in Rehovot to foil the disengagement, and Betzalel Smotrich was once arrested on suspicion of attempting a major attack inside Israel. From time to time, settlers attack IDF soldiers, and as for their behavior toward Palestinians – there is no Shabbat without a pogrom – one needn’t elaborate.

If we want Israeli citizenship to have any real meaning and not to be a cover for an apartheid regime (and Human Rights Watch cited this law as one of the reasons it views Israel as such), Arab citizens need to know that they are equal. In many respects, the family reunification provision served as a prelude to the which officially turned Arabs into second-class citizens.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked says that opposition to the law by any coalition member is a “violation of the status quo,” and therefore goes against the government’s guidelines. This isn’t true. “Status quo” is not a synonym for “how it was, is how it will always be.” A law that is renewed every year, under the guise of a temporary order, by its nature involves a specific and temporary interest – an exception to the status quo, which is a permanent thing. We do not vote on the status quo anew every year, and this temporary provision – the reason why the law stood the test of the High Court – contradicts basic principles, and is meant to be anything but permanent.

All of us, Jews and Arabs, are residents and citizens of this tortured land. The time has come for us to stop threatening Arab citizens with a second and separation from their families. They are citizens by right and not by grace. As Natan Alterman wrote about expressing such “grace”: “It is not appropriate even for a personal reason.” This abominable law, which stains the Israeli legal code, must be eliminated. Then one could say that this government has effected some kind of change.

Source: There’s something other than security behind Israel’s citizenship law

Vaccines For Data: Israel’s Pfizer Deal Drives Quick Rollout — And Privacy Worries

A key factor behind Israel’s success in vaccination:

How has tiny Israel beat out bigger countries on COVID-19 vaccinations, securing a steady stream of vials and inoculating a larger share of its citizenry than any other nation?

Israel paid a premium, locked in an early supply of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and struck a unique deal: vaccines for data.

The nation of some 9 million promised Pfizer a swift vaccine rollout, along with data from Israel’s centralized trove of medical statistics to study “whether herd immunity is achieved after reaching a certain percentage of vaccination coverage in Israel,” according to their agreement.

“We said to Pfizer … that the moment they give us the vaccine, we’ll be able to vaccinate at the speed they’ve never heard of,” Israel’s health minister Yuli Edelstein tells NPR.

Israel’s small size and technologically advanced public health system offer an attractive model for Pfizer to demonstrate the impact of the vaccine on an entire population. Pfizer has not signed a similar agreement with any other country, company spokesperson Jerica Pitts says.

The vaccines-for-data trade-off has sparked impassioned debate in Israel among data privacy experts, biotech researchers and the country’s own medical ethics board, weighing the potential benefits of mining the population for vaccine insights against the potential abuse of millions of personal medical records.

“We need to understand that [Israel’s agreement with Pfizer] is going to be one of the, I would say, widest medical experiments on humans at the 21st century,” says the Israel Democracy Institute’s Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, a data privacy advocate and a leading voice questioning the Pfizer data deal.

Some Israeli commentators have accused Shwartz Altshuler of seeking to spoil a successful national campaign that the government has branded with the hashtag “VacciNation.” She and many other Israeli experts tend to concur that quick access to the vaccine is Israel’s most important priority.

Israel is already reporting promising initial results of the vaccination campaign. The Health Ministry said Thursday that out of a group of 715,425 Israelis fully vaccinated, only 317 — 0.04% — got infected with the virus at least one week after their second shot, and 16 were hospitalized with serious symptoms.

Israeli HMOs have reported a decrease in infection rates among those vaccinated with one shot of the Pfizer vaccine, and a drop in the country’s serious COVID-19 infections for older age categories a couple of weeks after Israel started its national vaccination drive.

“I think that it’s really very special that Israel’s been recognized by Pfizer as a country that the whole world can learn from,” says Diane Levin-Zamir, director of health education at Israel’s largest HMO, Clalit Health Services. “There’s good research coming out and we’re being very transparent about the data.”

Vaccines and politics

Most Israelis are celebrating their record-setting vaccination drive. “To be the first place in the world, it’s a good feeling,” says Yoni Boigenman, an Israeli getting a first shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Jerusalem’s main sports stadium, which has been converted into a hive of needles and nurses 14 hours every day.

Close to a third of the population has received at least one shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine and about 17% received both shots, far beyond any other country. Israel aims to be the first to vaccinate most of its citizenry against COVID-19 before elections are held March 23.

The vaccine drive is central to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reelection campaign. The first Israeli to receive a shot, Netanyahu mounted his syringe in a glass box, the needle angled upward like a rocket ship, with a plaque riffing off the words of U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong: “One small shot for a man, a giant step for everyone’s health.”

Israel has waved away human rights groups’ assertions that the country is obliged to provide vaccines to Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip; Israel says the Palestinian Authority holds that responsibility.

Still, Israel has decided to send 5,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Palestinian medical workers in the West Bank, with an initial shipment this week, Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s office tells NPR. Palestinian officials signed late deals with vaccine manufacturers and still await shipments to begin vaccinating the public.

Some Israeli medical experts warn that widespread immunity cannot be achieved so long as millions of Palestinians are not vaccinated. Palestinian officials say they do not expect to vaccinate the majority of their population until at least the end of the year.

“It’s a gold mine”

Nearly every Israeli citizen and resident belongs to one of four public HMOs, a health care system rooted in the national trade union of Israel’s early years. Every Israeli’s full medical history – from physician visits to hospitalizations – is accessible to any health provider at the click of a mouse, a repository of digital records going back 30 years.

“It’s a gold mine,” says Ziv Ofek, who helped launch Israel’s public health database, which he asserts is unparalleled by any other country.

Unrelated to the Pfizer study in Israel, Ofek’s medical data company, MDClone, is helping assemble a separate Israeli coronavirus patient database, with privacy protections. Israeli researchers are already tapping it for insights, such as findings that suggest a higher likelihood of dying from COVID-19 among those with fatty liver disease.

The data offers potential for vaccine research, too.

“Is there any progression of other diseases? … Does it impact your hypertension?” Ofek says. “All you need to do is just to be able to load the fact that you’ve been vaccinated, and then you can run new studies.”

Privacy concerns

The Israeli Health Ministry initially kept the terms of the Pfizer agreement confidential, but on Jan. 17 published part of the English-language contract, dated Jan. 6, to reassure the public about data use. Instead, the fine print has raised further questions.

Israel’s medical data experts want to know exactly what Israel is giving Pfizer, and whether the data being studied amounts to a clinical trial without the express consent of the millions of Israelis rushing to get vaccinated.

In interviews, Israeli officials insist they are only giving Pfizer anonymous statistics already provided to the public, such as the number of weekly cases and hospitalizations.

Pfizer said in a statement that it “will not receive any identifiable individual health information. The [Israeli Ministry of Health] will only share aggregated epidemiological data.”

But the contract says Israel will give Pfizer unspecified “subgroup analyses and vaccine effectiveness analyses, as agreed by the Parties,” leaving open the possibility that more personalized categories of data could be delivered.

“Can you have a real research based on … statistical numbers? This is not research,” Ofek says. Israeli health officials “claim they don’t give patient-level data, only statistics. There’s a big question whether it’s the whole truth, part of the truth or no truth at all.”

Privacy and medical data experts say buckets of data scrubbed of patients’ personal details can still be traced back to identify people if the sample is small enough, revealing sensitive medical details such as who is HIV-positive. If Israel transfers such private data to Pfizer, there are concerns it could get hacked and disseminated by third parties.

“Your insurance company will know all your medical history. Your employer will know it. The political campaigner who would like to convince you to vote for someone would know everything about your medical history, not to say about people who would like to marry your children,” warns Shwartz Altshuler, describing what she calls a small concern.

The contract also allows Pfizer or Israel to “provide input, make factual corrections” and delay publication of their studies of the vaccine’s effectiveness, which some Israeli medical data and privacy experts say could allow either party – each with vested commercial and political interests in the vaccine’s success – to hide or delay publication of failures. A Pfizer spokesperson did not respond to NPR’s query on this matter.

The head of Israel’s medical ethics review board, Dr. Eitan Friedman, says the review board has requested further clarification on the agreement. The government has not officially responded to the board’s request to review the agreement, he says.

If Pfizer and Israel are studying response to the vaccine by subgroups of Israelis’ demographic profiles and medical conditions, it should qualify as a clinical study requiring his board’s approval, says Friedman.

“There needs to be total transparency. No one party can override the real data. We need to know the truth,” he says.

The data study and fast vaccine rollout have fed some suspicions. Skepticism among the vaccine is prevalent among Palestinian citizens and residents of Israel.

“I heard so many rumors about this. Some say … they want to see the experience on the people here, if it’s a good vaccine or not. That’s why I’m a little confused about it,” says Nuha Sharif, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who nevertheless came to the Jerusalem sports arena to get her shot.

She has Israeli health insurance and received the vaccination for free, unlike Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who are still waiting for vaccine manufacturers to deliver vials to the Palestinian territories.

Some Israelis getting shots at the arena say they are not worried about their data.

“If it can help the world to get out of it, I don’t care,” Noam Ben Dror says. “I don’t think it’s a big secret, my personal data.”

Source: Vaccines For Data: Israel’s Pfizer Deal Drives Quick Rollout — And Privacy Worries

Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers

Of note and undermines claims not to be an apartheid-type state:

Israel is celebrating an impressive, record-setting vaccination drive, having given initial jabs of coronavirus shots to more than a 10th of the population. But Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza can only watch and wait.

As the world ramps up what is already on track to become a highly unequal vaccination push – with people in richer nations first to be inoculated – the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories provides a stark example of the divide.

Israel transports batches of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine deep inside the West Bank. But they are only distributed to Jewish settlers, and not the roughly 2.7 million Palestinians living around them who may have to wait for weeks or months.

“I don’t know how, but there must be a way to make us a priority, too?” said Mahmoud Kilani, a 31-year-old sports coach from the Palestinian city of Nablus. “Who cares about us? I don’t think anybody is stuck on that question.”

Two weeks into its vaccination campaign, Israel is administering more than 150,000 doses a day, amounting to initial jabs for more than 1 million of its 9 million citizens – a higher proportion of the population than anywhere else.

Vaccine centres have been set up in sports stadiums and central squares. People over 60, healthcare workers, carers and high-risk populations have priority, while young, healthier people who walk into clinics are sometimes rewarded with surplus stock to avoid the waste of unused vials.

The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has told Israelis that the country could be the first to emerge from the pandemic. As well as a highly advanced healthcare system, part of the reason for the speed could be economics. A health ministry official said the country had paid $62 a dose, compared with the $19.50 the US is paying.

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Palestinian Authority, which maintains limited self-rule in the territories, is rushing to get vaccines. One official suggested, perhaps optimistically, that shots could arrive within the next two weeks.

However, when asked for a timeframe, Ali Abed Rabbo, director-general of the Palestinian health ministry, estimated the first vaccines would probably arrive in February.

Those would be through a World Health Organization-led partnership called Covax, aimed at helping poorer countries, which has pledged to vaccinate 20% of Palestinians. Yet vaccines intended for Covax have not yet gained “emergency use” approval by the WHO, a precondition for distribution to begin.

Gerald Rockenschaub, the head of office at WHO Jerusalem, said it could be “early to mid-2021” before vaccines on the Covax scheme were available for distribution in the Palestinian territories.

The rest of the doses are expected to come through deals with pharmaceutical companies, but none have apparently been signed so far.

Despite the delay, the authority has not officially asked for help from Israel. Coordination between the two sides halted last year after the Palestinian president cut off security ties for several months.

But Rabbo said “sessions” with Israel had been held. “Until this moment, there is no agreement, and we cannot say there is anything practical on the ground in this regard,” he said.

Israeli officials have suggested they might provide surplus vaccines to Palestinians and claim they are not responsible for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, pointing to 1990s-era interim agreements that required the authority to observe international vaccination standards.

Those deals envisioned a fuller peace agreement within five years, an event that never occurred. Almost three decades later, Israeli, Palestinian and international rights groups have accused Israel of dodging moral, humanitarian and legal obligations as an occupying power during the pandemic.

Gisha, an Israeli rights group, said Palestinian efforts so far to look elsewhere for vaccines “does not absolve Israel from its ultimate responsibility toward Palestinians under occupation”.

The disparities could potentially see Israelis return to some form of normality within the first three months of this year, while Palestinians remain trapped by the virus. That may have a negative impact on Israel’s goal of herd immunity, as thousands of West Bank Palestinians work in Israel and the settlements, which could keep infection rates up.

In Gaza, an impoverished enclave under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, the timeframe could be even longer than in the West Bank. The strip’s Islamist rulers, Hamas, have been unable to contain the virus and are enemies with Israel and political rivals with the Palestinian Authority.

Salama Ma’rouf, head of the Hamas-run Gaza press office, estimated vaccines would arrive “within two months”, adding that there was coordination with the WHO and the Palestinian Authority.

Heba Abu Asr, 35, a resident of Gaza, jolted when asked how she felt about others getting the vaccine first. “Are you seriously trying to compare us with Israel or any other country?” she asked. “We can’t find work, food, or drink. We are under threat all the time. We do not even have any necessities for life.”

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/03/palestinians-excluded-from-israeli-covid-vaccine-rollout-as-jabs-go-to-settlers

Knesset demands answers after some Negev Bedouin have citizenship revoked

Of note:

Salim al-Dantiri, a Bedouin man from Israel’s southern Negev desert, used to regularly vote in elections. As a young man, he served in the Israel Defense Forces, as did his father, his brothers and his sons.

Then, around 20 years ago, he visited an Interior Ministry office for a routine matter, only to be told by a clerk that he was in fact merely a permanent resident, that the citizenship he had enjoyed to date had been given “by mistake” and that he would have to reapply for citizenship status. He did that, so far to no avail.

“My entire family has citizenship except for me,” Salim, from the the village of Bir Hadaj, told a Knesset committee last week.

The main difference between being a citizen and a permanent resident in Israel is that the latter is not eligible to vote or obtain a passport.

Around 370,000 Bedouin live in Israel, some 250,000 of them in the Negev. Unlike most Israeli Arabs, some Bedouin, like the Druze, serve in the IDF.

Salim is an example of what the Interior Ministry confirmed in 2016 is a policy to correct “ministry mistakes” in registration. The ministry insists that it is not removing citizenship — that would evidently be illegal.

Clause 11 of the 1952 Citizenship Law states that the Interior Minister may annul a person’s citizenship only if it was obtained on the basis of false information, and was given within the previous three years. If three years have passed, an annulment can only be decided by a court.

Nobody actually knows what “mistakes” specifically were made, because the Interior Ministry has not published the information. But they apparently relate to the way in which the Population Authority initially registered the Bedouin in the chaotic, early years of the state, compounded by typing errors when clerks later computerized hand-written personal files in the 1980s.

Military rule imposed on all Israeli Arabs between 1951 and 1967 meant that movement was subject to permits and that not everyone could get to the Interior Ministry to register, if they even understood that they needed to do so.

The registration “mistakes” seem mainly to apply to groups within the al-Azazme tribe, who live in the Negev Highlands, from south of Beersheba down to Mitzpe Ramon.

Last week, MK Said al-Harumi of the predominantly-Arab Joint List party, a member of the al-Azazme himself, told the Knesset Interior Affairs and Environmental Protection Committee that beginning around 2002, efforts to review the rights to citizenship of Negev Bedouin were stepped up. That year also marked the point when the government decided to freeze providing citizenship to Palestinians on family reunification grounds.

 

From that point on, some Bedouin visiting Interior Ministry offices for any number of services, from passport renewal to replacement of lost documents, began to experience such purported “corrections”: Walking in as citizens and leaving as permanent residents. Ministry clerks simply changed their status on the computer, with no explanations given and no opportunity to explain or appeal.

“When they take a person’s citizenship away, a long journey begins without answers,” al-Harumi said. “It causes terrible suffering.”

People who lost their citizenship were unable to move beyond Israel’s borders, for example to visit Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage, he said. Nor could they exercise their right to vote.

“If their fathers or grandfathers registered in this year or that, why should they have to pay the price 70 years later?” he said.

Fellow Joint List MK Sondos Saleh added that the policy was only deepening community distrust toward authorities.

The issue first came to prominence in 2015, when Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman visited Bedouin villages in the Negev as chairwoman of the Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality. Many there told her that they had had their citizenship taken away. In some families, one child was a citizen and another only a permanent resident.

At a Knesset Internal Affairs discussion in December of that year, the Interior Ministry confirmed the policy, while the committee’s legal adviser, Gilad Keren, challenged its legality in reference to the 1952 Citizenship Law.

Last week, at a second Knesset committee meeting held to examine whether such “corrections” were still being made, Keren said that his position had not changed.

To committee members’ bewilderment, a legal adviser to the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority maintained that “This is not about cancelling citizenship, because these people did not acquire citizenship. [For example,] a person’s file will say that he is a permanent citizen born to permanent citizens, but on the computer, he’s been mistakenly registered as a citizen.”

Senior officials from the authority admitted that Bedouin with Israeli identity cards who were found to have been descended from permanent residents would not be able to apply for a passport.

Committee chairwoman Miki Haimovitch retorted: “If you don’t issue a passport, that means you’re canceling their citizenship… There’s something twisted about people who have been citizens for years having to prove that they’re citizens. These people have not broken the law.”

Ronen Yerushalmi, Head of Citizenship at the Population and Immigration Authority, said research into the status of Negev Bedouin with citizenship had turned up 2,626 cases of questionable status. Of these, 2,124 had been confirmed as citizens, while the remaining 500 had “failed to meet the conditions” for citizenship because when they were born, neither of their parents had been citizens.

Yerushalmi said that the interior and justice ministers had agreed to deal with the issue by speeding up the citizenship application process for those who would need to apply. Out of the 500 summoned to ministry offices for the purpose, 362 had received citizenship “very quickly.” Of the remaining 140, 134 failed to respond, while six have not yet been given citizenship “for other reasons.” A Justice Ministry official insisted that “there have been no refusals so far.”

Oded Feller, director of the legal department at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, proposed that the Interior Ministry should use its authority under Clause 9 of the Citizenship Law to fix the situation. The clause enables the minister of the interior to grant citizenship for special reasons to people such as Righteous Gentiles or outstanding athletes, and to do so retroactively.

 

MK Ram Ben Barak (Yesh Atid-Telem), a former deputy director of the Mossad and former director-general of the Intelligence Ministry and the Strategic Affairs Ministry, said: “Without doubt, there is a sense of discrimination on racist grounds… In the case of the Negev Bedouin [in general], the state should first of all feel shame.

“They should be dealt with like all citizens, by whichever ministry is relevant. We’re in 2020. There are nine million citizens here. All are equal and need to be related to in an equal way,” he said.

The committee instructed the Interior Ministry to provide it with the relevant written regulations or guidelines, while Touma-Sliman vowed to build up an alternative database of cases to check whether the Population Authority figures were correct.

Source: Knesset demands answers after some Negev Bedouin have citizenship revoked

‘GOD TV’ spat exposes tensions between Israel, evangelicals

Not surprising. Always was an uncomfortable alliance:

An evangelical broadcaster who boasted of miraculously securing a TV license in Israel now risks being taken off the air over suspicions of trying to convert Jews to Christianity.

The controversy over “GOD TV” has put both Israel and its evangelical Christian supporters in an awkward position, exposing tensions the two sides have long papered over.

Evangelical Christians, particularly in the United States, are among the strongest supporters of Israel, viewing it as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, with some seeing it as the harbinger of a second coming of Jesus Christ and the end of days.

Israel has long welcomed evangelicals’ political and financial support, especially as their influence over the White House has risen during the Trump era, and it has largely shrugged off concerns about any hidden religious agenda.

But most Jews view any effort to convert them to Christianity as deeply offensive, a legacy of centuries of persecution and forced conversion at the hands of Christian rulers. In part because of those sensitivities, evangelical Christians, who generally believe salvation can only come through Jesus and preach the Gospel worldwide, rarely target Jews.

When “GOD TV,” an international Christian broadcaster, reached a seven-year contract earlier this year with HOT, Israel’s main cable provider, it presented itself as producing content for Christians.

But in a video message that has since been taken down, GOD TV CEO Ward Simpson suggested its real aim was to convince Jews to accept Jesus as their messiah. The channel, known as “Shelanu,” broadcast in Hebrew even though most Christians in the Holy Land speak Arabic.

“God has supernaturally opened the door for us to take the Gospel of Jesus into the homes and lives and hearts of his Jewish people,” Simpson said in the video.

“They’ll watch secretly, they’ll watch quietly,” he added. “God is restoring his people, God is removing the blindness from their eyes.”

In a subsequent video, Simpson acknowledged that the channel was under investigation by Israeli authorities, saying that preaching about Jesus in Israel is a “very touchy subject.” He apologized for any offensive remarks and said GOD TV would comply with all regulations.

Freedom of religion is enshrined in Israeli law, and proselytizing is allowed as long as missionary activities are not directed at minors and do not involve economic coercion.

The Communications Ministry said it was investigating a “discrepancy” between the application for the license that was granted in March, which said the channel was focused on the Christian community, and its actual content, which appears to “target Jews and convince them that Jesus is the messiah.”

HOT said in a statement that it was not responsible for the channel’s content and has been “fully transparent” with authorities.

GOD TV was founded in the U.K. in 1995 and eventually grew into a 24-hour network with offices in several countries. Its international broadcasting licenses are held by a Florida-based non-profit. It claims to reach 300 million households worldwide, and Simpson was among the participants at a high-level Christian media summit hosted by Israel last year.

Simpson denied trying to convert Jews to Christianity. He said Jews who accept Jesus as the messiah can continue to practice their faith, a reference to Messianic Jews, popularly known as Jews for Jesus.

The Messianic movement, which emerged in its modern form in the 1970s, incorporates Jewish symbols and practices — including referring to Jesus by his Hebrew name, Yeshua — but is widely seen as a form of Christianity. All major Jewish denominations reject it, and Israel considers Messianic Jews to be converts to another faith.

“There’s no such thing really as the Messianic movement,” said Rabbi Tovia Singer, who leads an organization devoted to countering missionary activity aimed at Jews. “It’s a dog whistle, it’s a name that’s used by evangelical Christian Protestants.”

He said Simpson’s willingness to speak openly about conversion reflects the growing influence of evangelical Christians in both Israel and the United States.

“They feel bulletproof to say these kinds of things and what their real agenda is,” he said.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding, the former executive director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, an umbrella group for Christian Zionists, said Christians only share their faith when asked, and denied they have any secret agenda.

“Evangelical support for Israel is not based on prophecies but on promises that God gave to Abraham 4,000 years ago,” he said. “We cannot, and should not, let the arrival of a TV channel in Israel impact negatively on the well-being of a movement that for decades now has brought about a new day in Jewish Christian relationships.”

At least one prominent evangelical supporter of Israel has criticized GOD TV for airing missionary content aimed at Jews, saying it encourages anti-Semitism.

“In recent decades, millions of Christians have felt the call to stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people with no hidden agenda,” said Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a Tennessee-based evangelical who hosts a program called “Focus on Israel” that previously aired on GOD TV.

“Any attempts to convert Jews or downgrade their religion will only sow undue hatred at a time when we should unite in the face of darkness,” Cardoza-Moore said.

Daniel Hummel, the author of a book on evangelicals and Israel, says Christian Zionists have “more or less learned” that Messianic Judaism’s presence in the movement is “politically unwise.”

“The issue always continues to simmer, but the precedent was set (in the 1970s) and grew stronger that any Christian organization wishing to work in Israel or be at all close to the center of political action in the (Christian Zionist movement) would need to publicly disavow at minimum coercive evangelization.”

Simpson says GOD TV has hired lawyers to resolve the issue and is determined to stay on the air.

“The last thing we want to do is to cause division over there,” he said. “We love Israel.”

Source: ‘GOD TV’ spat exposes tensions between Israel, evangelicals

In Israel, Modern Medicine Grapples With Ghosts of the Third Reich

Interesting account of the ethnical and personal issues involved and their sensible resolution:

The explosion flung him skyward, legs first, before he crashed to the ground.

It was June 2002, at the height of the second Palestinian intifada. Dvir Musai, then a 13-year-old Israeli schoolboy from a religious Jewish settlement, was on a class cherry-picking trip in the southern West Bank. On his way back to the bus, he stepped on a mine laid by Palestinian militants and was gravely wounded, along with two other boys.

“There was a lot of smoke, clumps of earth falling, a smell of burning and gunpowder,” Mr. Musai, now 31, recalled.

Decades of agony followed. Mr. Musai’s right foot felt as if it were permanently afire. And then last year, a surgeon offered him hope — and a disquieting disclosure.

In pre-op at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Dr. Madi el-Haj told his patient that the anatomical atlas he would use to guide him through the intricate nerve pathways had been produced by Nazis. Its illustrations are believed to be based on the dissected victims of the Nazi court system under Hitler’s Third Reich.

If there were objections, Dr. el-Haj told the Musai family, he could operate without it — but it would be harder. He noted that there was rabbinical approval for the book’s use.

Mr. Musai’s mother, Chana, had lost relatives in the Holocaust.

“She said, ‘If it can help now, we’ll use it,’” Mr. Musai recalled.

That gut-wrenching decision went to the heart of a longstanding debate about the ethics of drawing on knowledge derived from the Nazis’ expansive medical and scientific experimentation — and in this case, the ethics of using the textbook, “Atlas of Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy.”

The book, by Eduard Pernkopf, stands out for its accuracy and detail, and even in an age of state-of-the-art imaging, some surgeons, among them those who perform peripheral nerve procedures, still find its drawings invaluable.

In a perverse twist, the more advanced the relatively new field of peripheral nerve surgery becomes, the more reliant on the atlas some of its practitioners say they find themselves. That is because even high-tech imaging is of limited use to the complex discipline, in which doctors treat problems like chronic pain caused by nerves that are damaged or trapped.

Pernkopf began work on the atlas at the University of Vienna, where he became chairman of anatomy in 1933, the year he joined the Nazi party. With Hitler’s 1938 annexation of Austria, he became dean of the medical faculty, then president of the university.

The illustrators to whom Pernkopf turned to produce the atlas were also Nazi enthusiasts. Three of the four illustrators incorporated swastikas, SS lightning bolts and other Nazi insignia into their signatures — hallmarks of evil airbrushed out of later editions.

Less is clear about the people whose bodies were dissected so that the illustrators could produce their work. Over the years, there have been questions about whether some had been killed in Hitler’s death camps. Those questions remain unresolved, but many experts believe that most of the prisoners were Austrians condemned in the courts.

After the war, Pernkopf spent three years in an Allied prison camp but was not charged with war crimes. He continued work on the atlas until his death in 1955.

A two-volume edition was published in five languages, with the first American edition coming out in 1963. Elsevier, a European scientific publisher that currently holds the copyright, stopped printing it on ethical grounds, but the volumes can be found in private collections and purchased on eBay and Amazon.

Scholars first raised questions about the origins of the atlas in the 1980s as the Cold War’s “Great Silence” about the Nazis’ medical legacy began to crack.

By the 1990s, the controversy was drawing wider public attention.

Dr. Howard Israel, an oral surgeon at Columbia University who had routinely used the atlas, exposed the Nazi symbols in the artists’ signatures included in early editions of the book.

Then Dr. Israel and Dr. William Seidelman, a Toronto physician, turned for help to Israel’s official Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, asking it to press the University of Vienna to investigate the background of the atlas — and of the dissected cadavers its authors used. After some initial reluctance, the university agreed.

“Things started to unravel,” recounted Dr. Seidelman, who now lives in Jerusalem.

From 1938 to 1945, the university’s anatomical institute received more than 1,370 bodies of prisoners executed by the Vienna court system, according to the findings of an investigative committee. More than half had been political prisoners — people targeted by the Nazi regime. At that time in Austria, joking about Hitler was enough to warrant execution, often by decapitation.

Dr. el-Haj, the Hadassah surgeon, said he was first introduced to the atlas while studying under Dr. Susan Mackinnon, a pioneer in peripheral nerve surgery, at Washington University in St. Louis.

“She knew I came from Israel — she thought I was a Jewish guy,” he recalled.

That he was, in fact, an Arab Muslim from the Galilee changed nothing.

“I was shocked,” he said. “It’s a matter of humanity.”

Dr. Mackinnon bought her first copy in the early 1980s as a young plastic surgeon in Baltimore, and used it to guide many of her surgical procedures.

But troubled by the provenance of the illustrations, Dr. Mackinnon photocopied the first scholarly articles about Pernkopf’s past a few years later and tucked them into the book as a constant reminder.

In 2015, Dr. Mackinnon and her longtime associate Andrew Yee wanted to share drawings from the atlas on an online teaching platform, and sought an opinion from Dr. Sabine Hildebrandt, a Boston physician who has studied the Third Reich.

An international effort was already underway to determine how to handle unearthed human remains and medical specimens from the Holocaust era.

Dr. Hildebrandt took on Dr. Mackinnon’s query and consulted with other experts, giving rise to a special set of recommendations regarding the Pernkopf atlas in a document known as the “Vienna Protocol.” It was written by a prominent American rabbi and ethicist, Joseph A. Polak, and formally adopted by a 2017 symposium of experts at Yad Vashem. Under the protocol, the atlas can be used if there is full disclosure about its origins.

In a recent survey of an international group of nerve surgeons, Dr. Mackinnon and Mr. Yee found that 59 percent of the 182 respondents were aware of the Pernkopf atlas, 41 percent had used it at some point and 13 percent were currently using it.

But the debate is hardly settled.

Dr. Justin M. Sacks, chief of the division of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Washington University, said he had never come across the atlas until he arrived at the department this year. He argued that it was morally and ethically wrong to use it and that there were perfectly adequate substitutes available in print or online.

“I’m not looking to stir a controversy,” he said in an interview, “but I’m looking to put it where it belongs: in a museum.”

Dr. el-Haj said that while the alternatives might be good enough in other medical fields, when it came to peripheral nerve surgery, they were no match for Pernkopf.

One of eight siblings, Dr. el-Haj grew up in a farming village and aspired to become a nerve surgeon, he said, in the hope of helping his father, who as a young man was left with a paralyzed arm and leg by a work accident. After studying in the United States, Dr. el-Haj returned to Jerusalem with his own Pernkopf volumes in August 2018.

Around the same time, Mr. Musai, who had undergone dozens of operations since his injury, returned to his doctors. Now a married father of two, he could barely walk. His foot could not bear the weight of a sheet at night.

He was referred to Dr. el-Haj.

From his days as a medical student at Hadassah, Dr. el-Haj, 40, remembered Mr. Musai as an angry teenager in terrible pain who harbored a hatred of Arabs.

Mr. Musai acknowledges that was the case.