JERUSALEM — Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show, called his first experience in Israel “truly life-changing.”
Oz was in Jerusalem last month to participate in a panel discussion on the topic of healing the Middle East.
Joined by Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, nicknamed “America’s rabbi,” the discussion, moderated by Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief Steve Linde, focused on overcoming hatred as Israel enters peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
Oz said his first impression of Israel was “a country which has been traumatized” but that has overcome its past with “such hope, such wisdom, such insight.
“Hope is not hoping the diagnosis is good, or that the surgery goes well. Hope is making sense of what has happened,” Oz said. “We have a civic responsibility to speak up on issues that matter to society. We have a unique ability to influence that process.”
Oz said he had no hesitations on visiting Israel, despite other high-profile tourists having been targeted by boycott, divestment and sanctions calls recently.
“It is very hard to hate people you know,” Oz said. “You can create caricatures of who they are. I can pretend I know what a Jewish person does or what an Israeli thinks but if you actually meet somebody, it’s really hard to dislike them.”
Oz said it can be difficult to differentiate between good and evil, adding that such feelings can negatively affect one’s ability to heal.
“It hurts you more than them,” he said. “When you hate them, you’re sapping from you.”
Rabbi Boteach said that as Oz continues to gain fame and credibility in the United States for his work in healing, he should think about how he can impact the Middle East.
Oz noted the Hippocratic oath taken to practice medicine includes “a civic responsibility to speak up on issues that matter to society.”
But Oz said this civic responsibility is forgotten by many doctors today.
“We have a responsibility – and certainly in countries that are closer to this conflict it becomes a compelling need – to speak on things that you’re not a world authority on,” Oz said. “I’m not an expert on Middle East affairs or how to stop the crisis here. But I do know a fair bit about healing and… we all have a responsibility on a personal level.”