Medical Society and Middle Eastern Society Dr Emma Williams, ‘When it’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street’

Dr Emma Williams addressed the Middle Eastern and Medical societies on her experiences as a doctor abroad. The fascinating talk, illustrated with a series of images, some of them rather graphic for the benefit of the aspiring medics in the audience, was based on Dr Williams’s memoir, It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street. In August 2000, Dr Williams arrived with her three small children in Jerusalem to join her diplomat husband and to work as a doctor. A month later, the second Palestinian intifada erupted. For the next three years, she was to witness an astonishing series of events in which hundreds of thousands of lives, including her own, were turned upside down. She lived on the very border of East and West Jerusalem, working with Palestinians in Ramallah during the day and spending evenings with Israelis in Tel Aviv. Combining personal stories of her life as a doctor and a mother with often ignored details on the political background, Dr Williams’s talk brought to life the everyday realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and also of practising medicine in a range of tense and demanding situations.

Tom Barrowcliff OS (MJP)