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Comments and corrections from Orit – and my reflections

by David Osborn, MH, L.Ac
Saturday, June 12, 2010

Orit Baruch, the subject of my previous blog entry, emailed me with some comments and corrections regarding what I wrote.  I would like to share these with you, and to add some reflections and commentary of my own.

Orit’s comments and corrections brought me to a couple of important conclusions, or realizations:

The first is that it’s very important, when doing a report or blog, to take good notes, and to be faithful to your subject matter, and to what happened.  I just relied on what naturally stuck in my memory of our time together at Amirim and in the Galilee, and conveniently glossed over what I did not naturally retain in my memory.  These details, nevertheless, turned out to be quite important.

The second is a heightened awareness of just how easy it is to craft an agenda in your mind, even without being aware of it, and to take sides and be excessively partisan, even when you don’t have to.  And I, having a lot of Choleric passion in my nature and temperament, can all too easily do this, and, at times, lose my detachment and objectivity.

First of all, Orit told me that, although she greatly respects Omar Said and his work, she does not consider him to be the greatest herbalist in Israel, or in the world.  In fact, she does not even consider Omar to be an herbalist in the true sense of the word.  In spite of all this, Orit feels that Omar has conducted a lot of important research on the medicinal plants of the Holy Land.

Orit felt that my previous blog posting focused too much on Omar Said.  Omar Said did some important work on medicinal plants, Orit told me, but he is not the only star in the herbal medicine firmament in the Holy Land.  There are also people like Nissim Krispil, an anthropologist who is also very knowledgeable about the medicinal plants of the Holy Land.  In fact, Orit did show me one of his books on medicinal plants when I visited her at her clinic in Amirim.  And, by the way, Nissim Krispil is Jewish, or Israeli.

I wish to quote from Orit’s email to me, an excerpt from an email that she sent to Steven Fulder, a doctor who used to work with Omar Said.  I have merely revised the English where necessary:

“The Holy Land has lots to offer for both the Jewish and the Palestinians, and, from my point of view, politics and science / medicine should be separated.  Just true cooperation between multicultural scientists on the endemic medicinal plants and tribal medicine are the answer to make peace.  I respect Omar Said for his devotion to the Holy Land, and for his respect for the local healers and plants.  I hope that he will continue his important work on Arabic Medicine, which will come from a deep desire to make peace, and to find a cure for the wounded hearts of the people.”

The problem with Omar Said, Orit told me, is that he thinks too much like a politician, and not like a true doctor.  Omar Said needs to change his attitude to let everyone work with him.  He was nototious for being averse to taking on Jewish or Israeli people as students or coworkers.  In spite of this attitude, Orit’s friend, Egal Ben Yitzak, was able to work for Omar for a time, but without pay.

My Concluding Reflections on Medicine and Politics

Orit’s comments and corrections made me realize just how intense are the political tensions that pervade the Holy Land, and how keenly those tensions are felt by those who live in Israel and Palestine.  The best solution for an herbalist, healer, or any other professional seems to be to not get involved, and rise above the political fray to maintain peace, progress and equilibrium in one’s personal and professional life.

Although I respect Orit’s opinion and feelings in wanting to keep politics separate from medicine, there are undeniably certain things that medicine shares in common with politics.  Politicians prescribe legislative remedies for the social and economic ills that plague our nation – or at least, ideally, that’s the way it should be.  If only politics’ track record of results for healing the ills it pertains to were as good as those of medicine and healing!

Because of this dismal track record, many might argue that political science is not an exact science.  Or perhaps we also need to factor in the usual human foibles such as greed, graft and corruption into the equation.

The fact that politicians have made a great mess of things seems to be a universal truth.  And perhaps this is especially true for politicians, both Israeli and Palestinian, in the Holy Land.    Peace now seems more elusive than ever!

Perhaps ture peace will come, as Orit says, from true cooperation between multicultural scientists on the endemic medicinal plants and tribal medicine.  And, we just may find that they will obtain better results than the politicians.

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