Swiss donors said to nix funding for Israeli program to avoid aiding Arab doctor

Family reportedly freezes $5 million payment to outstanding young physicians, says it has ‘no intention’ of donating to non-Jewish recipient

Michael Bachner is a news editor at The Times of Israel

The Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, January 2, 2014. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)
The Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, January 2, 2014. (Gideon Markowicz/Flash90)

Donors to an Israeli medical excellency program have reportedly refused to continue funding it because one of the doctors selected this year to receive the money is Arab.

The Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, has for the last 13 years chosen eight to 10 young, aspiring doctors and medicine students per year to receive the money, as part of its Talpiot program. There are typically about one hundred candidates a year to choose from.

Recipients get tens of thousands of dollars that help them fund studies and research papers and attend education programs and conferences.

But this year, the project’s primary donor, a Swiss Jewish family, refused to give the money after receiving the list of winners, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Wednesday.

The unnamed donors, said in the report to be a “family of Holocaust survivors,” have been giving $5 million every year, effectively funding the project.

But they immediately canceled their donation upon learning that an Arab medical intern was selected this year, saying they have “no intention” of donating money to a doctor who isn’t Jewish.

The selected Israeli Arab doctor is in her third year of internship at Sheba’s urology department, and is regarded as “brilliant, diligent and dedicated,” according to the report. She lives in central Israel, has been involved in many clinical studies, has published several peer-reviewed papers and has presented her work in conferences in Israel and abroad.

The donors didn’t only cancel their donation to one recipient, and said the funds to all winners would only be given if the hospital reversed the Arab doctor’s selection.

Sheba decided not to cancel its selection in the face of the “racist” condition, the report said, with the hospital’s director, Prof. Yitzhak Kreis, backing the decision. The report said the hospital had found an alternative source of funding for the program.

The hospital commented by thanking the family of donors for helping shape the Talpiot program, adding: “We see the training of the future generation as part of our commitment to public medical services that are equal, professional and service-oriented.”

Most Popular
read more: