Over the years, I have been to Israel many times and it is always an inspiring, amazing experience. This country is without question the United States’ most important ally in the Middle East. This time, I returned to visit Sheba Medical Center, Israel’s largest and most advanced hospital.
So often, we think of Israel in the context of its conflict with the Palestinians or its other Arab neighbors, but medicine can provide an oasis of peace and coexistence in an otherwise turbulent region.
Professor Yitshak Kreiss, the director general of the hospital and former surgeon general of the Israel Defense Forces, outlined a vision to ensure that Israel’s national hospital continues to evolve, serving as a city of health not only for Israelis but also for Christians, Muslims and all other people from across the region in need of medical care.
Israel’s well-earned reputation as a hotbed of innovation was embodied by the various doctors I interviewed during my three long days in Israel. Israel’s doctors are more than practitioners of medicine. They are visionaries and global leaders in their individual fields.
Meeting with Dr. Tzipora Strauss, the Jewish state’s leading neonatologist, I understood immediately that her own calling is to be in the intensive care unit every day preserving the lives of the most delicate newborns and giving them a chance not only to survive but also to thrive.
I also met a young Israeli who I truly believe might just have the world’s best shot at finding a cure for cancer. Professor Gal Markel, at just 39 years old and already with 20 patents to his credit, is the youngest physician in the Jewish state ever to achieve a full professorship—the pinnacle of achievement in his field. Within Sheba’s expansive laboratories, Markel is turning the tables on cancer by daring to think boldly. With quiet confidence and chutzpah, for which Israelis have always been known, Markel is dedicating his life to defeating the scourge of sickness that has affected so many lives in America, Israel and all the world.
For Americans, it is hard to imagine how 20 percent of the country can be treated annually in one location in central Israel, but that is what takes place. In the national center for the IDF, groundbreaking medical technology provides injured soldiers with the care and long-term rehabilitation they often require.
Israel has committed itself to cultivating hospitals without borders—providing patients worldwide with life-saving treatments after natural disasters and man-made calamities. I met men and women who are training medical professionals in places such as Equatorial Guinea, Kosovo, Rwanda, Guatemala, Haiti and other locations so that they can save their own people.
My fact-finding visit to Israel showed what the future holds in terms of high-tech medicine. I met the very doctors at the forefront of breakthroughs in the treatment and early detection of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Their findings will benefit Americans, thanks to deep bilateral medical collaboration.
Not far off is a world where doctors will use robotics to perform heart surgeries on patients across the world. Soon, people will be able to carry instruments on their bodies, enabling them to receive CAT scans and MRIs from the comfort of their own homes. It sounds like stuff from the science fiction novels, but it’s real and happening right now in Israel.
The level of ingenuity and creative thinking among Israel’s doctors was on full display at Sheba, providing proof positive that Israel is carving out a niche as a global medical pioneer.
Pivotal collaboration between the top Israeli doctors and leading American physicians is a win-win for both countries. And the relation between the United States and Israel must remain strong and committed. We share the same core democratic values. As Vice President Pence recently said, “We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil and in liberty over tyranny.”
The atmosphere within Israel always seems to be crackling with intensity. That carries over into every aspect of life there, apparently, and Sheba Medical Center demonstrated the skill with which Israel has skillfully built itself into an epicenter of medical innovation and bastion of hope.