For pop singer Alicia Keys, who will soon visit Israel in defiance of a personal appeal to boycott from noted author Alice Walker, the decision to visit Israel, while worthy of our gratitude and applause, was made from a position of strength. After all, Keys is successful, confident and wealthy enough to do as she pleases. On the other end of the spectrum is a Syrian doctor and his patient, 28, in the throes of a civil war whose decision to go to Israel was made in the ultimate weakness, with a bullet in his gut and life slipping away.
A few days ago, that doctor, who knew he could do no more to save his patient, pinned a handwritten note to his patient, whom he sent over the border to Israel: “Hello distinguished surgeon,” said the note, which explained the patient’s medical history. “Please,” he wrote, “do what you think needs to be done and thanks in advance.” The patient is now recovering in a hospital in Safed.
According to the Times of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces has set up a field hospital near the border, where doctors have treated some 20 Syrians who were wounded in the civil war. In one Syrian’s pocket the Israeli medics found a live hand grenade.
After the story of the Syrian with the note was reported, journalist Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted and tweaked the advocates of BDS (the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement): “Syrian doctors violate BDS guidelines by sending gunshot victim to Israel for treatment.”
In a few days, critics of Israel will likely resume echoing Alice Walker, who compared Israel to an apartheid state, a place supposedly too evil for Alicia Keys to play, a place deserving of boycott and isolation. With far less publicity, Israel goes about the business of building a country that couldn’t be more different than its neighbor to the north.