Dr. Mohamed Kittani is the first Israeli-Arab doctor to join the prestigious Rabin Medical Exchange fellowship program. A 31 year old resident, Dr. Kittani is in his fifth and final year of residency, as an orthopedic and sports medicine doctor at the Rabin Medical Center. American Friends of Rabin Medical Center has supported over 70 doctors in six years to participate in this medical exchange program which selects leading doctors, researcher and medical practitioners from Israel’s premier hospital, Rabin Medical Center, to join top medical institutions in the United States as part of an observership in the hopes of sharing and growing their expertise. Candice Pueschel and Diana Smirnov of Fried Frank were the co-chairs of this Global Connections breakfast.
Having just last week completed his fellowship in Orthopedic Surgery at Desert Orthopaedic Center, Las Vegas, Dr. Kittani joined AFRMC at this year’s Global Connections breakfast held Monday, September 19, 2016. Dr. Kittani shared his unique experience as an Israeli-Arab doctor, reflecting on his fellowship in Las Vegas and the dreams he has for his future in sports medicine when he returns to Rabin Medical Center.
“I am pleased to be the first Israeli-Arab Rabin Medical Exchange fellow. I consider myself extremely lucky … I am thrilled by the thought of perhaps taking part in Jewish community events…” Dr. Kittani said as he began his informal talk, moderated by AFRMC’s Executive Director Joshua Plaut. “Being Israeli-Arab is not as different as you would think. In every community and country, everyone is different. We are the same. We treat people at the hospital the same.”
A common topic throughout the discussion was the seemingly segregated communities in Israel and how that affects the medical field. Dr. Kittani quickly reiterated, “There is a gap between what we get from the mass media and what happens on a daily basis in medicine throughout Israel. You can find minorities, but the majority wants to share experiences and co-exist in society. There is no border; you can live without problems.” The Rabin Medical Center is known to treat all patients, without regard to race or religion. “We have a mosque and a synagogue in the hospital. You can do what you want religiously.” Even during times of war, when patients arrive at Rabin Medical Center, “We don’t know who is who. We treat everyone. Everyone is the same.”
In closing, Dr. Kittani elaborated on the differences between medical practices in the USA and Israel. Aside from common differences, such as medical techniques, the doctor noted there were more similarities between the Rabin Medical Center and Las Vegas than one would think. He said, “I hope to bring back new techniques to perform on my patients. If the medical techniques that I learned in Las Vegas during my fellowship are approved by Rabin Medical Center, I can use them on my patients, to their benefit, in the future.”
Dr. Kittani lives in Baqa El Garbia, a city just north of Israel, where he resides with his wife Rasha, an occupational medicine physician, and his two-year-old son, Ibrahim. In addition to his medical career, Dr. Kittani owns a basketball club where over 200 children participate in the Israeli youth league. “Working 26 hours shifts, I can’t go to every basketball practice, so I make sure I go to every game. But this is our life. You need to be good in your work, a committed family member and do activities that make you happy. You must balance your life.”
As seniors at the Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan, we have spent the past four weeks interning at American Friends of Rabin Medical Center (AFRMC). During our time at AFRMC we have had the opportunity to learn about the non-profit world and the great work that AFRMC does for the Rabin Medical Center.