A delegation of 20 Russian speaking journalists and bloggers visited the historic, Palestinian-Arab city of Nazareth last week as part of the Solidarity Project led by the Mossawa Center. The delegation visited the pottery factory of the Mosmar family, one of the oldest in the Galilee that continues to operate to this day.
The journalists and bloggers met with Palestinian-Arab social activists, artists, and clerics, who explained the rich history of the city of Nazareth, its importance as the “capital” of Palestinian-Arab society in Israel, and the unique fabric of relations between Jews and Arabs in the Galilee
The delegation met with the Director of the English Hospital Dr. Fahed Hakim and other senior staff members. The journalists toured the hospital’s wards and learned about the work of the hospital, which serves a population of approximately 750,000 residents in the Galilee region.
Ola Najjar, Director of Public Relations and Business Development at the English Hospital, said that the hospital, founded in 1861, is considered the oldest in the region, while Dr. Hakim mentioned that it was the only hospital at the time between Beirut and Jerusalem. Najjar mentioned also mentioned that the hospital includes the largest emergency room in the Galilee.
Dr. Hakim spoke of the many health problems facing Palestinian-Arab society in the region, such as obesity and diabetes, and highlighted the opening of the Mental Health Department, a stroke treatment unit, and a cardiac catheterization unit, the only one of its kind in the hospital, which serve a large and diverse population of both Arabs and Jews from the entire region. The hospital also has one of the leading nursing academies in the country and helps to respond to the shortage of nurses. The hospital also produces generations of doctors in 11 specialties and collaborates with many hospitals in the region, both in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
What characterizes the hospital is that it relies mainly on donations, and does not receive a subsidy from the state, despite being a public hospital. Vasim Dabini, Vice President of Nazareth Trust and Finance Manager, said, “what we are doing here is an aspiration for equality and reducing disparities. The motto is, ‘dream, plan and execute; it’s possible.’”
After the visit to the hospital, the delegation went on a tour of the Old City. The tour began with a visit to the city square, and a meeting with Diab Mahroum, the owner of Mahroum Sweets, one of the oldest families that produces Knaffeh and sweets in Israel. They also visited the Basilica of the Annunciation and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation. During the tour, they also visited a number of businesses that have recently opened in the Old City market, which is experiencing a revival. Mossawa Center Board Member Kamel Barghouti shared his childhood experiences in the market and in the Old City in Nazareth.
At the Ramada Hotel, the journalists met with the Deputy Mayor of Nof HaGalil, Dr. Shukri Awuda, and heard from him about Jewish and Arab relations in the city. Dr. Awuda speaks Russian and a Russian-speaking team from the municipality explained the challenges facing peripheral cities. At the end of the day, the journalists visited the regional radio station Radio Nas, where they met with Dr. Firas Khatib, the director of the station, as well as journalists and producers at the station.
According to the Mossawa Center, the Solidarity Project aims to “build bridges between the Palestinian-Arab community and various other marginalized groups in Israel including the Russian, Mizrahi, and Ethiopian communities.” By building a sense of solidarity between these groups, the Mossawa Center and its partners hope to establish a stronger network for advocacy and justice in Israel that will promote the civil, democratic, and human rights of Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel and other members of marginalized communities in the country.