Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
There were some specifically poignant thoughts about Israel which kept reoccurring as the events unfolded last week following the Boston Marathon tragedy and its aftermath. One heard or read about various doctors who repeatedly remarked how fortunate it was that their trauma units relatively recently had engaged in intensive briefings and training from their Israeli counterparts. The techniques, procedures, and processing of victims which Israel had developed over years of having to deal with terrorist incidents and suicide bombers became invaluable for the first responders in Boston and the fortunately enhanced hospital staff on duty last Monday. While U.S. military experiences since the Viet-Nam War have changed trauma unit behavior dramatically, the nature of the battlefield, combat, or military emergencies are still significantly different than civilian ones.
Similarly, while American hospitals and medical personnel have made great advances in addressing problems emerging from post-traumatic stress disorders, Israel again has extensive experience dealing with PTSD among civilian populations. In addition, as is the case in medicine generally, sharing of procedures and treatment techniques are standard procedure, the range of Israeli experiences with and development of prosthetic devices is also greatly advanced especially for basically young and healthy victims which so many in Boston were. Finally, watching robotic machines—in lieu of humans–moving around the empty streets of Boston in search of and endeavoring to inspect potential hot spots, it was clearly reminiscent of watching robots in Israel climb over buses and around blown-up clubs, restaurants, etc. in search of unexploded devices.
Somehow Israel’s advanced technologies in all of these fields were sad reminders of the extent to which Israelis have become almost inured to tragedy on the one hand and yet, on the other hand, educative of how to deal with terrorist attacks. The city of Bsoton—like Israel has learned–marched on. Certainly the hockey fans at the Bruins game on Wednesday night understood that as they sang the Star Spangled Banner and as did the Red Sox fans at Fenway Park on Saturday as they sang Sweet Caroline.