The Shmooze

Dr. Oz Goes to Israel

By Ben Sales

  • Print
  • Share Share

(JTA) — Dr. Mehmet Oz sat down to talk with JTA on the Tel Aviv coast last week, but what he really wanted to do was go to the beach.

Oz, the surgeon and well-known TV personality, was in Israel for the first time and had a packed itinerary. He traversed the country from the Red Sea to the Golan, lectured Israeli physicians in a northern Israeli hospital and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

His host on this whirlwind tour was Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the author and sexpert who lives in New Jersey. The two met when they were both on an Oprah Winfrey radio program. Boteach recently gave Oz an award for being a “champion of Jewish values,” and the trip was paid for by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, another recipient of the award.

A Muslim of Turkish descent, Oz delivered a relatively conservative line on Israel in an interview, even casting doubt on the viability of the two-state solution. He also explained why he went to Hebron and Psagot, two controversial Israeli settlements deep in the West Bank.

BEN SALES: What drove you to come to Israel and what has surprised you most about the country?

DR. OZ: I come every summer to Istanbul and keep meeting Israeli tourists. What was most surprising was that I knew about the historical sites, I traveled the whole country, and I know now that that’s the tip of the iceberg. What’s special is the energy of this nation, which was able to build a thriving modern society out of the desert. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations restarted recently and it’s assumed that any final deal would involve the dismantling of Israeli West Bank settlements. Why did you decide to visit Hebron? Was it problematic for you as a Muslim?

I went there especially because I was a Muslim, to the burial place of the patriarch of my religion. Hebron meant connecting to a place that represents that connection, and to be able to see Islamic writing, Jewish writing, Christian writing and all three [religions] worshiping at the same tomb.

I went out of curiosity to see a place that is sacred to me. There will be political discussions forever, and we should follow an inner instinct. I went with love in my heart.

In addition to practicing Western medicine, you’re a big believer in non-Western cures and you preach the importance of patients having a positive mindset. In that regard, what’s your takeaway from Israeli culture and Jewish values?

It’s difficult to understand the world if you don’t understand Israel. There’s a clear intersection of Jewish values, modern society and coping with the modern world. In a society like Israel, where there’s tremendous stress, it is important to remember those deep values. If you don’t love yourself you can’t love your neighbor.

The most important thing in life is to have purpose. If you give your heart a reason to keep beating, it will always keep beating. Because of their will to take on the physical forces of the desert and their neighbors, [Israelis] have a clear purpose to change the world.

What has been the most challenging part of the trip?

We were driving and I saw workers from South Asia, and I wondered, “Why are South Asians working in these fields when there are workers who live in the West Bank?” We must find a way for people to work together peacefully.

There are such wonderful opportunities to work together. We should build a bigger pie. Israel is a microcosm for so many problems you have around the world. It’s the gold standard of conflict. If we could solve this, it’s a toolkit for solving other problems.

How has visiting Israel and the West Bank changed your perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

You learn about the fictions you create around solutions. It would be very difficult to pass laws that intersect between people living next door to each other. It’s not as easy as being for or against it. You realize it’s much more difficult. It’s much grayer. It’s not black and white.

The ultimate solution will be driven by financial means. Peace is an imperative for that. When people love their children so much, they’ll do whatever it takes to make their future brighter.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: shmuley boteach, mehmet oz, israel, dr. oz

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • The real heroines of Passover prep aren't even Jewish. But the holiday couldn't happen without them.
  • Is Handel’s ‘Messiah’ an anti-Semitic screed?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.