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‘We must focus on what we share,’ says 1st Arab woman head of Israeli ER

CM 18/05/2021


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 When Dr. Shaden Salameh-Youssef was 10 years old, she had to call up an ambulance for her sick grandfather.

“I barely spoke Hebrew, but my parents were busy taking care of him, so I had to do it,” she explained.
Almost 30 years later, speaking to The Jerusalem Post from her office at the Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus Emergency Medicine Department, Salameh remembered this episode as a defining moment in her decision to become a doctor.
“I felt so helpless and I realized how important it could be to have a doctor in the family in case someone got sick,” she pointed out. “When I was a little older, I started to be attracted by the general idea of helping others.”
In order to pursue this mission, Salameh-Youssef left her little village of Turan, in northern Israel, to study medicine at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the city where she has lived ever since, where she did her residency in internal and emergency medicine, obtained a master in in health administration and began her career.
Three years ago, the doctor became the first Arab-Israeli woman to head an emergency department in the country, supervising some 10 doctors and 40 nurses, as well as a number of paramedics and non-medical staff, among them Jews, Arabs, Christian, Muslims and more.Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem's Mount Scopus Emergency Medicine Department with her Jewish and Arab staff. (Photo credit: Rossella Tercatin)Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus Emergency Medicine Department with her Jewish and Arab staff. (Photo credit: Rossella Tercatin)

Asked if she had to face any struggle in pursuing her career, she explained that her studies were not always easy, but the challenges motivated her.
“The experience of moving to Jerusalem was difficult; I knew Hebrew, but not as well as Arabic, I was far away from my community,” she explained. “However, I was also determined to meet the other. Many of my roommates over the course of the years were Jewish, as well as many of my friends. We were all united in the goal of saving others. Working together for us was very natural because we shared the same values.”
“This is the same way I feel about the atmosphere at our hospital today,” Salameh-Youssef added.
As ethnic riots are disrupting the coexistence in many Arab-Jewish cities, the doctor expressed concern.
“It is very sad. I’m against violence in any form and I think that we are seeing many issues in all sectors of Israeli society, including forms of violence not related to Jewish-Arab tensions, such as violence against women,” she explained.
However, the doctor also maintained a positive attitude.
“Our responsibilities as leaders is to have people to focus on the good, so that things will be ok,” she told the Post. “It is easy to look at other people’s mistake but instead we should focus on how we can be better.”
The medical staff in this sense is exemplary.
“Outside, Jews are scared of Arabs, Arabs are scared of Jews, but here we manage as one family,” Salameh stressed. “Sometimes we also solved tensions between patients coming from different communities. We do not always succeed, but very often we do.”
Asked about why there are not more Arabs in managerial or leading positions in Israel, the doctor said, “I’m not sure why this happens, but I do think that education is essential and I encourage everyone, and especially women, to pursue an education, not necessarily to become leaders, but to enrich themselves.”
Salameh said that sometimes she does experience discrimination.
“The two situations where it happens the most are at the airport and when looking for an apartment,” she said. “When my husband and I were looking for an apartment to rent, I could hear the horror in people’s voices when they heard our names. They would calm down only when I explained that we were both doctors.”
“I think it is very sad, because I feel that I am judged not for who I am but for when I’m from: they would trust me to save their lives, but not for me to live in their apartment,” she added.
However, Salameh-Youssef also stressed that it is the diversity of the Israeli society what makes it special.
“Our society needs to heal. We are mixed and this is what makes us beautiful and special, but we need to focus on what we have in common, not on our differences. We have to think about our shared destiny,” she said.
Her hope is that medical workers can be an inspiration for the whole society.
“We are here, all together, Jews and Arabs, of all religions, working, showing up for every medical emergency and leaving everything behind to take care of the sick,” Salameh-Youssef pointed out. “We can be a light, a candle shining in the darkness.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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