Chapter two: Dr. Ruchama Marton: An Allergy to Lies

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Discussions with Dr. Ruchama Marton, a psychiatrist and human rights activist, in her garden in Tel Aviv, were critical to broadening our understanding of the consequences of occupation to Israelis as well as to Palestinians.

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In Broken Promises, Broken Dreams, I mention this poster, dated 1936, hanging in Dr. Marton’s living room.


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And this historic poster hanging in her living room as well, Tel Aviv, 1903.


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Physicians for Human Rights Israel, (PHR I) was founded by Dr. Marton, and here is their modest but busy office in Tel Aviv.


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With other delegates, I worked with Israeli clinicians at the PHR I open clinic for migrant workers who often lack health insurance and basic social services. We saw people from Africa and Asia, brought to Israel to do the work once done by Palestinians.

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We met two Israeli women, Noa Kaufam on the left, Ella Yedaya on the right, doing alternative military service at PHR I.

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Delegates joined clinicians from PHR I and the Palestinian Medical Relief Society
(PMRS) at the Saturday mobile clinic in Masâha, West Bank, 2004. Offices in this
women’s center were set up on different floors using sheets to create exam rooms.

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Patients came from Masâha, West Bank, which is isolated by checkpoints and the separation wall. Here they are waiting to be seen at the Saturday mobile clinic. The separation wall is visible in the background.

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More patients from Masâha, West Bank, waiting to be seen at the Saturday mobile clinic. They are usually unable to obtain permits to reach other sources of care.

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Patients from Masâha, West Bank, waiting to be seen at the Saturday mobile clinic. We found lack of access to health providers, medications, and testing is a major problem for this town and many rely on the mobile clinic. The van with the PHR I staff arrived with medications and supplies that were set up outside the clinic.

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The van with the PHR I staff arrived with medications and supplies that were set up outside the clinic.

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Physicians from Israel and the West Bank saw patients together at the Saturday mobile clinic, Masha, West Bank.

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A physician from PMRS on the left, a social worker and activist from Israel on the right worked together with the local populace.

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I saw women for obstetrical and gynecological problems, assisted by two Jewish Israeli medical students, one who was Arab speaking and acted as translator. The exam table was a mattress on the floor and the ultrasound machine was shared with another MD two floors down.

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The following year, delegates joined clinicians from PHR I and PMRS in Bedia, West Bank for a Saturday mobile clinic; medications and medical supplies were brought from Israel.

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Dr. Alan Meyers and Dr. Ellen Isaacs saw patients at the mobile clinic in Bedia, West Bank where routine prevention and follow up is difficult due to checkpoints and restrictions of access.

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In Bediaat the Saturday clinic, Dr. Meyers provided pediatric care and saw the usual range of pediatric problems, complicated by issues of poverty, lack of access to testing, medications, and higher level services.

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Seema Jilani, a delegate and medical student from the US, enjoyed using her pediatric skills in the universal language of laughter.