Haim Zach/GPO

The first medical school in Samaria will benefit Israelis and Arabs of all faiths, in addition to contributing to the medical professional as a whole.

By United With Israel Staff

Ariel University Medical School inaugurated its first semester with a festive gathering on Sunday. Following years of legal hurdles and international pressure against “normalizing” the school due to its location in Samaria, the excitement was palpable.

“A new medical school has opened in Samaria,” an enthusiastic U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said during his toast at the event, according to Times of Israel. “It’s worth saying that again. A new medical school has opened in Samaria! How many people ever thought those words would be spoken?”

This is Israel’s sixth medical school, helping to address the shortage of doctors in the country.

The school is named after American mega-philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, an Israel-born physician, who were in attendance at the opening. The couple donated $20 million to the university in 2017 for expansion purposes, including building the medical school.

Miriam Adelson addressed the crowd, noting the struggles to get the medical school’s approval. She quoted the sages who said that the Land of Israel is acquired through tribulation, according to Haaretz.

“Bbeing Israel, we also had to withstand our tribulations,” Adelson said. There were opponents who tried to block the establishment of a critical institution on ancient Jewish land and to deny us legitimacy. But we won, Zionism won, the truth won.”

MK Naftali Bennett was also in attendance. As education minister, he was instrumental in the Knesset’s passage of legislation last February that places Israeli colleges and universities in Judea and Samaria on par with institutions in other parts of Israel and under the auspices of the Council for Higher Education.

This legislation has lead to an increase in calls for academic boycotts of Israeli professors who teach in Judea and Samaria.

“The Health Ministry’s professional position has always been that politics and medicine should not be mixed,” Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman said during the gathering, according to Times of Israel. “The State of Israel invests in its health [care system], which is among the best in the world.”

Ariel University boasts students from every sector of Israeli society, including Jews, Muslim and Christians Arabs, and secular residents of all stripes.

Emphasizing the importance of the moment, Ambassador Friedman said, “The lives of people everywhere, in this region, whether you are Jewish, Muslim, Christian — they have now been improved and will continue to be improved in so many profound ways. The United States Embassy enjoys warm relations with Ariel University and we are inspired by its contributions to Israeli society and to the scientific world,” reported Times of Israel.

The medical school received 662 applications of which 70 students are presently participating in its inaugural class.