Starkman: Corewell Health’s Tolerance of Calls for Israel’s Destruction Unsettles Metro Detroit Jews

October 24, 2023, 8:50 PM

The writer, a Los Angeles freelancer and former Detroit News business reporter. He blogs at

By Eric Starkman

Corewell Health CEO Tina Freese Decker, who took over Beaumont Health’s eight Metro Detroit hospitals more than a year ago, once boasted on her bio that she was committed to building a health system that “celebrates and reinforces diversity and inclusion.”

Many of Corewell’s Jewish physicians and patients don’t believe Freese Decker’s inclusion goals includes them.

Metro Detroit’s Jewish community, among the most vibrant in America despite its comparatively small population of 71,500, is reeling over the Grand Rapids-based health system’s failure to fire a surgeon at its Dearborn hospital who seemingly celebrated the Oct. 7 massacre and mutilation of some 1,400 Israeli citizens by Hamas, which the U.S. government has designated a terrorist organization. President Biden and other world leaders immediately and unequivocally condemned the attack, although Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wasn’t one of them.

Among the incidents that have unsettled Detroit’s Jewish community were a since deleted Facebook posting by Dr. Majd Abuarabia, the medical director of the Karen Wilson Smithbauer Comprehensive Center for Breast Care at Corewell’s Dearborn hospital, that many believe was an expression of joy about the Hamas massacre.

Dr. Majd Abuarabia's Facebook posting

Detroit’s Jewish community is also unsettled by a demonstration held by the Arab American Medical Association in front of Corewell’s Royal Oak hospital where many protestors were wearing scrubs. One carried a placard saying, “From the River to the Sea Palestine Will Be Free” and others chanted “Intifada, Intifada! Long live the Intifada.”

“From the River to the Sea” is a war cry for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, which means the destruction of Israel. Calls for an Intifada refers to a violent overthrow of Israel.

Corewell spokesman Mark Geary ignored a request for comment.

Abuarabia’s October 7 seeming Facebook celebration, which she posted under the name Majd Majjoda, displayed a picture of characters from the musical “Oklahoma!” with a note:  "Oh what a beautiful morningggg, oh what a beautiful dayyyy!" along with “#IFKYK (if you know, you know).”

The posting was first publicly called out by a group called StopAntisemitism. 

“This is abhorrent @Corewelll Health -- your Jewish patients deserve to be treated by someone that does not support terrorists butchering babies, women, and the elderly!” StopAntisemitism tweeted on X.

Jewish Physicians Protest

Multiple Jewish physicians protested Abuarabia’s Facebook posting and sources say they were advised that Corewell has initiated an investigation. One source said they were told that Abuarabia denied she was celebrating Hamas’ massacre and insisted her celebration was referring to being included in Hour Detroit’s “Top Docs List 2023” a week earlier.

If true, it’s not clear why Abuarabia used an alias to celebrate her professional recognition.

A video of the Arab American Medical Association’s demonstration in front of Corewell’s Royal Oak hospital in southeastern Michigan indicated there were dozens in attendance. A flyer calling for the event encouraged medical staff to show up in white coats and scrubs, presumably to make clear that the protesters were healthcare professionals.  Most heeded the call.

It's not clear why the Arab American Medical Association chose to hold its demonstration in front of Corewell’s Royal Oak hospital. One possible reason is that a small pro-Israel rally was previously held in front of the strip mall adjacent to the massive hospital complex. Those attending the pro-Israel rally weren’t wearing hospital scrubs and likely wouldn’t be mistaken for hospital or medical employees.

The Arab American Medical Association’s rally appeared to include individuals from other area hospitals, as a protestor displaying a “From the River to the Sea” placard was wearing a Henry Ford Health jersey.

A healthcare worker outside Corewell Royal Oak

Henry Ford’s media team, which is led by former television reporter Lauren Zakalik, ignored a request for comment.

Various Metro Detroit Jewish leaders reached out to Freese Decker, Corewell’s CEO, to express their concern about the visible display of hatred and calls for the destruction of Israel in front of her Royal Oak campus.

“The Jewish community that I represent is shocked and frightened by what we saw and heard,” wrote one leader who asked not to be identified for fear of being targeted. “Many of my members, and myself personally, have family and friends who are currently in harm's way in Israel. We are all deeply concerned about their wellbeing.  The vociferous calls for genocide and Intifada that emanated from yesterday's protest were deeply hurtful and frightening.

“We urge Corewell to publicly dissociate itself from yesterday's protest.”

Tina Freese Decker (Hospital photo)

Those who reached out to Freese Decker received a response typical of her disingenuous PRspeak. The response carried the names of “Darryl and Tina.” Darryl Elmouchi is Corewell’s chief operating officer who is temporarily overseeing the former Beaumont hospital system that remains troubled, with some insiders arguing that it’s in even worst shape than when it was overseen by John Fox, Beaumont’s controversial former CEO who diminished the stature of the once nationally respected hospital system while pocketing tens of millions of dollars for himself.

Darryl and Tina

“Please know that as a health care organization we do not allow unapproved gatherings or protests on our property,” the Darryl and Tina response said. “This event was organized by an outside group unrelated to Corewell Health and took place on a public sidewalk south of our hospital campus. As a result, this event fell under the jurisdiction of local officials and not our organization.”

Freese Decker’s and Elmouchi’s passive stance is at odds with the positions and actions taken by some leading hospitals across the country with Muslim doctors who celebrated or supported Hamas atrocities.

New York’s Lenox Hill hospital promptly fired emergency room doctor Dana Diab for controversial posts online that applauded Hamas’ massacre at a music festival in southern Israel, saying the attacks gave Israelis “a taste of their own medicine.”

Dr. Andrew Thierry, a diagnostic radiologist and chief medical officer of a medical imaging company in Beverly Hills, CA, was terminated after posting tweets that included, “The only thing Zionists are Superior at are lies, deceit, and genocide” and “Zionists are genocidal, demonic, greedy, pedophilic retards. Change my mind.”

ExpertMRI, where Thierry worked, was unequivocal in its condemnation of Thierry’s comments.

As noted by the RAIR Foundation USA, Boston endodontist Zena Al-Adeeb left her practice after she was photographed removing photos at an upscale suburban Boston mall displaying images of missing children kidnapped by Hamas terrorists. In Miami, dentist Ahmed ElKoussa was terminated from his practice after removing posters of missing Israelis.

Admittedly, Corewell has a thornier thicket to navigate than many other U.S. healthcare institutions. One of its southeastern Michigan hospitals is in Wayne and serves constituents of Rep. Rashida Tlab, whose antisemitic rhetoric and antics even some liberal journalists couldn’t ignore.

Tlaib still refuses to accept U.S. and other government findings, as well as various media reports, saying Israel wasn’t responsible for bombing a Gaza hospital, contrary to what the New York Times and other mainstream media outlets initially reported. The Times has since retracted its story.

Cowardly Stance

It’s no surprise that Freese Decker has taken a cowardly stance given she lacks any medical credentials or training, but it’s surprising that Henry Ford Hospital has remained silent, particularly as it will need FTC and Michigan Atty. Gen Dana Nessel’s approval to complete its proposed merger with Ascension’s southeast Michigan operations. Nessel has rallied against hate speech of all sorts.

Darryl Elmouchi

Especially notable is that Corewell COO Darryl Elmouchi allowed his name on Freese Decker’s response to Jewish leaders. Elmouchi holds a medical degree from the University of Michigan, as does his spouse, who is an impressively credentialed pediatrician in Grand Rapids.

The World Medical Association has unequivocally condemned Hamas’ terrorist invasion, which it denounced as a “brutal attack" that "led to thousands of innocent civilians, including children, the elderly, and those in dire need of medical attention, being injured, killed, and held hostage.”

The WMA expressed its “unwavering solidarity” with its member organization, the Israel Medical Association, firmly trusting “that its dedicated physicians will continue to uphold high moral standards through these challenging times.”

Israeli hospitals treat Muslim and Iraqi children, as well as Syrian refugees. Early in the pandemic, Israeli teams trained dozens of doctors, nurses and medical personnel in Gaza on ways to treat Covid patients.

Perhaps it’s because Elmouchi attended the University of Michigan that makes him seemingly tolerant of physicians and other medical personnel who celebrate the murdering of innocent civilians.

Palestinian supporters marched through U of M’s campus earlier this year shouting, “Intifada, Intifada! Long live the Intifada” without consequences from the school’s administration.

Reach the writer at Confidentiality is assured.


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