In the Holy Land, bringing ordinary Israelis and Palestinians peacefully together is extremely difficult in such a tense and violent environment. But the International Christian Committee in Israel (ICCI) does just that.
Along with Palestinian girls’ empowerment programs in Arab towns in Acre, the ICCI brings Palestinians and Israelis together through a variety of programs, from academic conferences to supporting inter-ethnic organ donation. As Hussam Elias, ICCI’s Executive Secretary, says, “Arabs and Jews are not ‘doomed’ to live together but should live together.”
The medical expenses related to organ donation in Israel are covered by the state; the ICCI raises awareness and organizes conferences to break down the social barriers and conflicting ideas about organ transplants that have been in place across cultures. Often, people only want to donate within their own ethnicity.
As a result of the support of the ICCI and other organizations, Israeli and Palestinian families come together in very unique, life-giving situations.
One Arab youth was killed in a car accident, and his family donated his heart to a Jewish person; when the boy’s mother met the recipient, they hugged, and she said it felt like she was hugging her son. In another case, a Jewish family donated the liver of a relative to a young Arab man. When he got married, he invited his donor’s family, and the wedding photos show them all together as one big family.
As a piece of anonymous street art in the city of Haifa says, “This is for the organ donors, reminding us all that we won’t be strangers for long.”
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