Despite the fact that Muslim clerics in Indonesia have begun to warm up towards the Jewish state, the government has thus far kept its distance.
Regardless of the diplomatic feelings (or rather lack thereof), it looks as if medical teams from both countries will be teaming up in order to help the worlds largest Muslim nation meet the medical needs of its citizens.
(Israel 21st Century) Last week marked another milestone for MDA when Dr. Sudibyo Markus, the head of Indonesia's Muhammadiyah organization, arrived in Israel last week on an official visit to establish cooperation between his organization and Magen David Adom. Official visits between Indonesia and Israel are rare as the countries do not have diplomatic ties.
Markus was the guest of honor at the signing ceremony of a preliminary agreement of cooperation signed by the chairman of the Indonesian Rescue and Emergency Service, Prof. Aryono Pusponegoro, also of the Indonesian College of Surgeons; the chairman of MDA's Board of Directors, Dr. Noam Ifrach, and MDA director-general Eli Bin. Pusponegoro said: "I am 76 years old, and delighted that I have succeeded in fulfilling my childhood dream of coming to Israel." [...]
Muhammadiyah is the oldest and largest Islamic social welfare organization in the world, established in 1912. It is a moderate faith-based group with a mandate to improve civil society, serve the poor, and promote tolerance and pluralism. Muhammadiyah operates dozens of clinics, hospitals, orphanages, schools and universities in Indonesia. It has over 28 million members and has been recognized by the Indonesian government and by international organizations.
This is a good first step between both countries, as it gives the people of Indonesia a glimpse of Israel's medical expertise (not to mention display their more charitable side).
This is not the first time Israel has reached out towards diplomatic enemies, and it probably will not be the last time either. Hopefully this trend will continue, as Israel's medical advances could help heal the divide and open up the Muslim world towards cooperation with the Jewish state.
Image Credit: Rachel from Israel 21st Century
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