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This transcript is produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

Jerusalem hospital where there is no distinction between Arabs and Jews 21/2/02

MARK URBAN:
Mid-morning, and five casualties arrive at the Hadassah emergency room. It's going to be another one of those days, for the staff and for Avi Rivkind, head of the unit.

AVI RIVKIND:
You open the door of the ambulance and you don't know who's coming, it's a surprise. The other surprise is what he has. In this very moment, you are alone and that's it. It's you, the patient, and it's your decision. Your decision is life and death.

URBAN:
Rivkind and his team alternate between emergency work and routine surgery. Is it true you don't drink in order to keep your hands steadier?

RIVKIND:
I don't drink, not in order to... I don't drink. I don't like to drink.

UNNAMED DOCTOR:
I drink to keep my hand steadier!

URBAN:
Sustained by gallows humour and medical idealism, this hospital treats everyone - Jew and Arab, bomber and victim, those scythed down by bullet or bomb and, in this case, a victim of cancer. Rogonde Amer is often called across to casualty from her eye clinic. As a Palestinian member of staff, she too has to deal with the consequence of violence - against her people and by her people.

RAGONDE AMER:
It raises different internal conflicts but on the outside aspect, you have to continue to see the patients and deal with colleagues.

URBAN:
What kind of conflicts does it raise internally?

AMER:
You see Palestinians being injured, losing their eyes. You see Israelis being injured and sustaining injuries to their eyes. So it's a difficult situation. You come to the original question - why should all this happen? Why should they suffer and lose their sight?

URBAN:
On the streets, sudden death often brings ugly passions to the surface. Somehow, though, those have been kept out of the Hadassah.

RIVKIND:
We are totally isolated from these events that happen in the streets. Here it never happened that there was shouting, screaming outside. So here it's another environment. It's a holy environment.

URBAN:
Even the visitors here seem to obey the unwritten rules of coexistence. In the intensive care unit, Sharon Maman is comforted by his mother and a friend. He has been unable to speak or move for two and a half months - since he was caught in a suicide bombing, peppered with nails that were packed around the device. Doctors here say that home-made shrapnel was dipped in rat poison.

UNNAMED DOCTOR:
He had a few infections in other areas in his body - in the head, in the foot, in the back. At this point in time, there is probably a source of infection which we are trying to look for.

URBAN:
Sharon's mother says that, like all mothers, she's waiting for his first word. The violence brings new medical challenges.

RIVKIND:
The blast injury - you can speak with him. They look from outside wonderful, as you and I. Inside, they are totally burned and they can speak with you and in a second they drop dead. This man suffered internal and external burns in an explosion last month.

MUSTAPHA HIBRAWI:
TRANSLATION:
I felt heat around me. Everything looked strange. The scene was so depressing. Everything looked different.

URBAN:
Mustapha Hirbawi was a Palestinian victim of a Palestinian suicide bomber. Blown up in West Jerusalem while looking for work, he pins his hopes on the Hadassah staff.

HIBRAWI:
TRANSLATION:
Yes, of course, I trust them because they are doctors. I have to put my trust in them because they're medical people.

URBAN:
There are, though, no soap-style miracle cures here. Tamar el Adi was shot repeatedly by a Palestinian who stood over her. She asked not to share a room with Arab patients - a request not normally granted by the hospital.

TAMAR El ADI:
TRANSLATION:
I didn't object to being treated by an Arab doctor. But I couldn't accept being in the same room as an Arab patient. I was afraid. I didn't want to be face-to-face with them. I wouldn't be able to sleep, so they agreed to move me because I made a fuss.

URBAN:
If there is ample suffering here, there is also joy. Hadassah is largely funded by a Jewish women's charity. They paid for this new mother and baby block. Here there's ground-breaking fertility treatment and newly delivered Jew and Muslim nestle side by side under state-of-the-art medical observation. Is there any chance that the little people born here might grow into adults ready to implement the hospital's principles in the wider world?

TAGREED ABU RAJAB:
TRANSLATION:
There is no discrimination whatsoever. Of course, it should be the same outside. I don't discriminate. I treat them the way they treat me. I never notice discrimination.

URBAN:
There are, though, some here who confess their frustration that what has been nurtured here over the past 40 years has not travelled much beyond the hospital walls.

NERI LAUFER:
The patients we see here - some of them are very high-ranking in the Palestinian Authority. They view their life together with us as something that is positive, not negative. They can see the potential of living together. There is a conflict of ideologies because there is a conflict of two people over same piece of land.

URBAN:
In the current atmosphere of violence, there is rather too much ideology eddying around this hospital in the Judean hills. Its ideals remain intact, though, and a reminder to both communities that common bonds of humanity can still prove stronger than those of nationality or religion. That's what Avi Rivkind discovered when he was asked to save the life of a man responsible for two horrific bus bombs.

RIVKIND:
Hassan Salame was responsible for the explosion of two buses. He was captured by our soldiers and they called me because he was severely injured. I operated, and then he was in a special room in the department, and I want to tell you a secret - one of our intelligence guys was hospitalised for elective surgery. I couldn't give him a place because Hassan Salame was in a room. So we gave him another place, not even in our department, and he was there because he was guarded, etc. I'm telling you, it can be only in Israel. Crazy people.

AMER:
I think that this emphasises things we were taught in medical school - that when you treat a human being, you treat it for being a human being, regardless of colour, race, ethnicity and other things. I think every day this gets emphasised here in this hospital. I don't represent a minority in seeing that we can live together. I think that the majority of Israelis, as well as Palestinians and the civilians - normal people - they are up to living together and to living peacefully.

URBAN:
Not everything runs smoothly here. With no end in sight to the current conflict, there are plans to treble the size of the trauma unit. If there's anything positive in all this, it's only that more will be able to work and be cared for in this most unusual place.


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