Hand in Hand

May 24, 2019 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Dr A. Abdel-Rahman and Prof. Esti Galili-Weisstub have discussed their groundbreaking projects connecting communities in Israel and Palestine at the Hand in Hand dinner in Sydney.


Communities from different faiths gathered together to hear how to create meaningful, sustainable peaceful relationships and combat prejudice at the Project Rozana Hand in Hand fundraising dinner.

The conversation between Prof Galili-Weisstub, Professor of Paediatric Psychology, and A. Abdel-Rahman, Director of the Green Land Society for Health Development in Hebron was attended by key community representatives such as David Gonski, Jihad Dib MP, Professor Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and Dr Jamal Rifi.

Chaired by respected journalist and broadcaster Hugh Riminton, the evening was MC’d by comedian and actor Rob Shehadie and supported by event patrons David Gonski and Jihad Dib MP.

Project Rozana’s projects provide groundbreaking person-to-person connections across religion, faith and cultures in one of the world’s most entrenched conflict zones. Two such programs led by the visiting speakers Dr A. Abdel-Rahman and Prof Galili-Weisstub are:

  • Road to Recovery, a volunteer network transporting critically ill Palestinian kids through checkpoints to treatment.
  • The Binational School of Psychotherapy, a training program and proposed school to support, connect and train Israeli and Palestinian child psychologists in the most current clinical approaches to treating children suffering from PTSD.

Hugh Riminton, Dr Jamal Rifi, Zeina Abdulhadi, H.E Izzat Abdulhadi, Ron Finkel, Dr A. Abdel-Rahman and Prof Galili-Weisstub

Palestinian health professionals are working hand-in-hand with their Israeli counterparts and many Palestinian doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers are being given the opportunity to train in Israel and return home to build the health capacity of their communities. As communities across the world grapple with the impact of extremism and prejudice, these grassroots, human-centred projects provide a powerful model to build understanding anywhere.

Project Rozana is an international organisation, based in Melbourne, that works with Israelis and Palestinians to provide healthcare training, treatment and transport – building hope from the bottom up through people-to-people connections that repair health and spirits in this decades-long conflict. Launched in 2013, Project Rozana was inspired by the remarkable story of survival of a young Palestinian girl, Rozana Salawhi. Watch her story here.

Ruth Rosen, David Gonski, Prof Dame Marie Bashir, David Gonski Ron Finkel and Prof Galili-Weisstub

Chairman of Project Rozana Ron Finkel said: There are few things more inspiring than a community rallying around a child facing a life-threatening health issue. What the Project Rozana Hand-In-Hand dinner demonstrated is that Australians from all walks of life are prepared to unite in support of our work to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians through health.

Ron Finkel, as President of Hadassah Australia, uncovered Maysa’s story. In by-passing the West Bank health services, she raised an uncomfortable truth for Israelis and Palestinians. That is the glaring difference in the standard of health care between the two communities, despite their physical closeness. For Ron, it was time to act.
It was not enough that Rozana was alive because of her mother’s fierce determination to put the life and well-being of her child on the line. It was time to level the playing field, to expose to a wider audience the willingness of the Israeli healthcare system and its practitioners to provide practical support to their equally willing Palestinian colleagues.
Project Rozana didn’t bring the sides together or compel the Israelis to act. Nor did it bang heads in the Palestinian health system to accept an offer of help.
What Project Rozana did was to open the curtain on an area of society that has for too long been closed. Shrill, uninformed voices of hate viewed any form of coexistence as a stunt or worse.

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