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For war-related rehab, leading Israeli hospital uses innovative simulation system and unique tools

Even before the smoke began to clear from Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 attack, Israeli healthcare professionals realized they were facing a series of unprecedented challenges.

Not only would wounded civilians and soldiers require treatment, but the entire nation was traumatized, including caregivers.

“By the afternoon of October 7, we knew this was a huge event that nobody had ever encountered in Israel,” said Prof. Amitai Ziv, a former combat pilot and director of the Integrated Rehabilitation Hospital at Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv. “We immediately realized we will have two major challenges, each one a tsunami. One is the number of patients that require rehabilitation, and two, the largest numbers ever of people suffering from acute stress disorder, which might lead to PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Ziv, a physician, is also the founder and director of MSR – the Israel National Center for Medical Simulation at Sheba. The center enables healthcare providers like doctors and nurses to practice challenging clinical procedures and encounters in a simulated environment using tools such as robotics, surgical simulators and even role-playing actors so that real patients are not put in any danger. Since its establishment, over 300,000 healthcare professionals have been trained and certified by MSR.

In the days immediately following Oct 7, MSR switched to focus on new wartime needs. The center transported high-tech, full-body mannequin simulators to train army medical teams serving in both major conflict zones — in the Gaza area and along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon — to improve their trauma management skills and prepare them for the lifesaving scenarios they were about to encounter in the battlefield. The center also used actors for “high-touch” simulations of interactions with people experiencing trauma to help prepare psychosocial teams to manage stress-related issues. 

The hostage issue presented the most difficult challenge.

Even if the hostages’ release could be secured, how could they be reintegrated into Israeli life under such extreme circumstances — with relatives still being held by Hamas, family members murdered, their homes destroyed, entire communities displaced and the nation in the midst of an intense war with mounting casualties? 

Ziv launched a series of intensive training courses involving simulations to prepare Sheba physicians, psychologists, and social workers, as well as Israel Defense Forces psychosocial professionals, to receive the hostages and accompany them during the early hours and days after their return from captivity. Out of the over 100 captives that were released in November, 30 went to Sheba.

Treating the hostages is just part of Ziv’s war-related work at Sheba, Israel’s largest hospital. As soon as the war started, Ziv began moving around entire departments and retraining staff to add capacity in the rehab hospital, which consists of three divisions: physical, mental and geriatric rehabilitation. Quick renovations added 122 new rehab beds to the 140 existing beds. 

“We made a decision that we would not say no to any patient who needs to be here, war- as well as non-war-related, and we do not push anyone out,” Ziv said. “We pushed ourselves to accommodate all evolving patient needs.”

Sheba has received more war-related rehab patients than any other hospital in the country. Most are recovering from complex injuries involving abdominal, surgical, and orthopedic injuries, amputations, or neurologic, spinal, or head injuries. Pain management and mental support are major priorities.

“PTSD is going to be the main, long-lasting condition requiring treatment,” Ziv said. He estimated that the numbers will be in the thousands and warned that even before the war, Israel had a 40% national staffing shortage of mental health professionals.

Yotam Polizer, IsraAID’s CEO, at a field school that the relief organization set up in the southern Israeli city of Eilat to serve Israeli families displaced by the Oct. 7 war. (Yehuda Ben-Itah/IsraAID)

Patients, most of whom spend two to three months in rehab, have access to an array of therapies at Sheba, including physical, occupational, and hydro therapies, as well as complementary therapies such as art, yoga, and even animal-assisted therapy using Sheba’s four trained dogs.  

“It doesn’t feel like a hospital,” said Avishai Shoshani, 49, a combat soldier at Sheba injured in both legs during combat in Gaza. “Here you feel like you’re with a bunch of friends. And this is a very important aspect of rehab.”

Unlike most other rehab facilities in Israel, Sheba’s integrated rehabilitation hospital is part of the larger medical center, giving rehab patients full access to the acute care hospital where many of them have been treated initially. The integration helps ensure continuity of care for patients who need surgery and other medical treatments during the rehabilitation process.

The war also brought an unprecedented partnership between Sheba and IsraAID, the Israeli disaster relief organization that provides emergency medical response, post-trauma mental health support, and humanitarian relief after disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires, and wars. IsraAid and Sheba had collaborated in the past on global disasters, but they never before had to work together in Israel. 

Both Ziv, 65, and IsraAID CEO Yotam Polizer, 40, are members of a unique group: They are laureates of The Charles Bronfman Prize, an annual $100,000 award given to a Jewish humanitarian under age 50 whose work benefits humankind and is grounded in Jewish values. 

The Prize was established in 2004 by the children of Canadian philanthropist Charles Bronfman — Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Stephen Bronfman together with their spouses Andrew Hauptman and Claudia Blondin Bronfman — to honor their father’s values and philanthropic work.

Ziv received the Prize in 2007 and is now one of the judges on the prize committee; Polizer won the award last year. As part of the prize fellowship, laureates get to know one another and sometimes end up collaborating. IsraAID recently facilitated a partnership with the State of California to donate a field hospital to Sheba.

While IsraAID has worked in many countries, including post-tsunami Japan and post-earthquake Haiti, the current war in Israel is unlike any other disaster it has dealt with because it’s happening at home, Polizer said. 

“This is a new challenge for us to give professional humanitarian support while we are at the same time part of the community that is affected,” Polizer said. “Being able to do something, even if it is small, also helps our team from a mental-health perspective. My coping mechanism is doing something and getting into action.” 

Soon after Oct. 7, IsraAID began working with displaced Israeli families who had been relocated to hotels from their homes in Israeli communities in the conflict zone.

Ziv, too, is touched personally by the war, as is practically every Israeli. He has two sons who serve in the army reserves, one a surgeon in the medical corps in Gaza. His staffers also have family in the army or friends injured or killed or displaced.  

“This is a long journey. We will be dealing with the outcomes of the war for years to come,” Ziv said. “Yet I trust the solidarity and courageous spirit of the Israeli people. These unique, exceptional qualities are of utmost significance for successful rehabilitation — and for resiliency, strength and cohesion of Israeli society.”

The post For war-related rehab, leading Israeli hospital uses innovative simulation system and unique tools appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas

[Illustrative] Harvard University students displaying a pro-Palestinian sign at their May 2022 graduation ceremony. Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder

A group of ten Harvard University alumni filed a lawsuit against the institution on Wednesday, accusing it of “devaluing” their degrees through permitting and fostering an environment of antisemitism, support for terrorism, and anti-Israel sentiment. 

Filed in a Massachusetts federal court, the alumni claims that Harvard has breached an implicit contract with its graduates, promising to maintain the institution’s prestige, which they allege has been compromised due to a toxic campus environment. This, they argue, has led potential employers and prestigious law firms to distance themselves from Harvard alumni.

“Harvard has directly caused the value and prestige of plaintiffs’ Harvard degrees to be diminished and made a mockery out of Harvard graduates in the employment world and beyond,” the lawsuit said. 

The lawsuit argues that the university’s administration has failed to combat campus anti-semitism, and has consistently overlooked assaults on Jewish students and calls by students and faculty for the annihilation of Israel. It highlighted, among other things, an open letter signed by more than thirty student organizations blaming Israel for the October 7 Hamas-led attack, and campus protests which included chants like “Long live the intifada!” and “There is only one solution: intifada revolution!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab!”

The suit also points to then-Harvard president Claudine Gay’s testimony before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where she stated that calls for genocide against Jews would only violate bullying and harassment policies “depending on the context,” as indicative of the school’s tolerance of antisemitism.

The lawsuit is part of a growing dissatisfaction among graduates over what they perceive as rampant antisemitism on U.S. campuses, according to attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, president of legal aid group, Shurat HaDin, who is representing the alumni alongside New York-based lawyer, Robert Tolchin.

Darshan-Leitner criticized the colleges for becoming “hate centers” under the guise of academic freedom. 

The lawsuit, Darshan-Leitner said, reveals the “growing outrage and contempt that graduates all across the US are feeling over the wild antisemitism and hate speech being encouraged and explained away on the American campuses.” 

“This dangerous weaponization of higher education by radical faculty and students as well as the impotent administration response, all justified under the guise of academic freedom, has turned the colleges into hate centers which has greatly devalued their reputation and diplomas,” she said, adding that the suit could prompt similar actions from graduates of other institutions.

Tolchin accused the university of succumbing to “the flavor of the month, the lowest level of discourse.”

“Harvard’s seal proclaims “Light and Truth” in Latin and Hebrew–yes, Hebrew, the language spoken by the indigenous Israelites. Yet light and truth have been hard to find at Harvard. The darkness of antisemitism and the dishonesty, hate, and discrimination have cast a pall over Harvard so embarrassing that people do not wish to be associated with Harvard,” Tolchin said. 

Harvard has been accused of facilitating an educational environment that is unwelcoming to Israelis and Jews for years, with the lawsuit citing annual events such as “Israel Apartheid Week” and incidents targeting Jewish students and symbols on campus. 

Antisemitism expert Dara Horn, a Harvard alumnus who was asked to join Gay’s anti-Semitism advisory committee, authored a damning essay published this week in The Atlantic in which she detailed the Jew hatred on campus predating October 7. 

She noted that staff members “who grade Jewish students used university-issued class lists to share information about events organized by pro-Palestine groups;” In one instance, a professor continued teaching after rejecting the findings of an investigation by Harvard after he was found discriminating against several Israeli students. Last spring, a student was asked to leave because her identity as an Israeli was making her classmates “uncomfortable.”

She also pointed to courses themselves “premised on anti-Semitic lies”, pointing to one called “The Settler Colonial Determinants of Health”, and noted that lecturers invited to speak at the campus included some who peddled in blood libels that Israelis harvest Palestinians’ organs or that the IDF uses Palestinian children for weapons testing. 

“The mountain of proof at Harvard revealed a reality in which Jewish students’ access to their own university (classes, teachers, libraries, dining halls, public spaces, shared student experiences) was directly compromised,” Horn writes.  The alumni’s legal action comes alongside another lawsuit filed by six current Harvard students on January 10, claiming that the university has not done enough to combat antisemitism on campus which had become a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.” It also comes a day after a professor at the university, Walter Johnson, resigned from two anti-Zionist campus groups after they posted antisemitic cartoons.

The post Harvard Alumni File Lawsuit Claiming Campus Antisemitism ‘Devalues’ Their Diplomas first appeared on

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Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7

Eden Alene, winner of the reality show “The Next Star to Eurovision,” during finals in Neve Ilan studio near Jerusalem on Feb. 4, 2020. Photo: Shlomi Cohen/Flash90.

Israeli Culture Minister Miki Zohar sent the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) a letter on Thursday urging them to approve Israel’s submission to the Eurovision song competition, after the EBU called it “too political.”

“As you know, the State of Israel is experiencing one of the most difficult and complex periods since its establishment. We lost our loved ones, and there are women, men and children who are still held captive by a terrorist organization,” Zohar said.

Israeli media reported that the broadcasting union would not approve the song, called “October Rain,” after a number of countries even issued threats to boycott the event if Israel participates. The EBU issued a statement saying “We are currently in the process of carefully examining the lyrics of the song – a process that is confidential between the EBU and the Public Broadcasting Corporation until a final decision is made. To all broadcasters, they have until March 11th to officially submit their songs. If a song does not meet the criteria for any reason, the corporation will be given the opportunity to submit a new song or new lyrics, according to the contest rules.”

“The song that Israel sent to the Eurovision Song Contest was chosen by a professional committee made up of well-known names in the local music and entertainment industry,” Zohar added. “It is a moving song, discussing renewal and revival from a very fragile reality of loss and destruction, and describes the current public mood in Israel these days. We see now most clearly because our lives – as one, united society – manage to overcome even the greatest suffering. This is not a political song.”

Despite the news that the song by Israeli singer Eden Golan would not be approved, The CEO of KAN, Israel’s national broadcasting service, and the body that approves the song, Golan Yokhpaz, said “We will not change the words or the song, even at the cost of Israel not participating in Eurovision this year.” Adding “The Israel Broadcasting Corporation (KAN) is in dialogue with the EBU regarding the song that will represent Israel at Eurovision.”

Zohar said later in a television interview “The songwriters, KAN, and the singer will have to make the decisions at the end of the day… I do think that Israel should participate in Eurovision because it is important for us at this time to be represented there, and to express ourselves throughout Europe.”

Speaking to the EBU, he said, “We trust that you will continue in your important task of keeping the competition free from any attempt at political manipulation.”

The post Israel Not Budging After Eurovision Disapproval of Song Commemorating October 7 first appeared on

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UN Representative to the Palestinians Claims Israelis Are ‘Colonialists’ with ‘Fake Identities’

UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Francesca Albanese, October 27, 2022 (Photo: Screenshot)

The United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to the Occupied Palestinian Territories referred to Israelis as “colonialists” who have “fake identities” while quoting another Twitter/X account on Wednesday, raising questions about the impartiality of the international body.

Francesca Albanese responded to a long post by Alon Mizrahi, a far-left activist, arguing that the reason many Western nations support Israel is that they are colonial projects. 

She highlighted the following quote from Mizrahi: “free Palestine scares them [Westerners] bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities.”

” free Palestine scares them bcs it is the ghost of their own sins, rediscovered as a living, breathing human. The current political structures of colonial projects cannot afford it, so they try to uproot it. Bcs it is a fight between all colonialists and their fake identities..”

— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) February 21, 2024

The original post claimed that “All colonial powers work together to guarantee the supremacy of made-up identities over genuine, native ones. Because if this model breaks anywhere, it will collapse everywhere.”

Mizrahi argued that “A Palestinian state would be a major, major moral blow to white, Western colonialism.”

The tweet was met with immediate condemnation.

David Friedman, who served as the US Ambassador to Israel from 2017 to 2021 under former President Donald Trump wrote that her tweet was “Exhibit A why the UN is a failure and why we no longer belong in that bastion of hypocrisy and corruption.”

An account documenting Hamas’ October 7 atrocities asked, “If Israel is indeed a ‘colonialist project’ Where should all the Israelis go if this project should be dismantled?”

The perception of UN bias against Israel has also been boosted by the fact that, in 2023, Israel was condemned twice as often as all other countries combined.

It is not the first time Albanese has made comments that raise eyebrows. Earlier this month, in response to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron calling the October 7 attack “largest anti-Semitic massacre of the 21st century,” she said “No, Mr. Macron. The victims of October 7 were not killed because of their Judaism, but in response to Israel’s oppression.”

Following backlash, she wrote that she opposes “all racism, including anti-Semitism, a global threat. But explaining these crimes as anti-Semitism obscures their true cause.”

Hamas’ founding charter, in a section about the “universality” of its cause, reads: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Albanese has also argued that Israel should make peace with Hamas, saying that “It needs to make peace with Hamas in order to not be threatened by Hamas.” 

When asked about what people do not understand about Hamas, she added, “If someone violates your right to self-determination, you are entitled to embrace resistance.”

The post UN Representative to the Palestinians Claims Israelis Are ‘Colonialists’ with ‘Fake Identities’ first appeared on

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