Monday, April 23, 2012

23-Apr-12: Does a people really get the leadership it deserves? Ask the Palestinian ruling class as they make their way to Israeli medical centers

Dr Sababa, medical clown extraordinaire,
at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center
Khaled Abu Toameh, the pre-eminent Israeli Arab journalist, has a record of fearless exposure of the hypocrisy and cynical abuse of Arab political leadership against their fellow citizens. A year ago, in "Where Is the Outcry Against Arab Apartheid?" he wrote with passion about
an 11-year-old Palestinian boy [who] died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment. The tragic case of Taha highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in impoverished refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an Apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care... Can anyone imagine what would have happened if an Israeli hospital had abandoned a boy to die in its parking lot because his father did not have $1,500 to pay for his treatment? The UN Security Council would hold an emergency session and Israel would be strongly condemned and held responsible for the death of the boy. All this is happening at a time when tens of thousands of Palestinian patients continue to benefit from treatments in Israeli hospitals."
As a family who, for various understandable reasons, spend much more than most people in Israel's pediatric hospital wards, we can testify [see "4-Mar-12: Dealing (or not) with the problems of a sick society", for instance] to the truth of this reality. It's astonishing to us that so little journalistic attention is paid to the experience of Arab families who turn for medical treatment to Israeli hospitals. Read the online journal Arabs Today to learn about Israel's leading role in the professionalization of medical clowning. Ask why the wonderful Dr Sababa, whom we know personally from his great work at Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek Medical Center, speaks a reasonable Arabic, as do most if not all of his Shaare Zedek clown colleagues. A pity the hordes of political journalists who cover this region consistently fail to pick up on this story, or the story behind the story (why do Israeli medical clowns find it so important to learn to speak Arabic?)

Today, writing for the Gatestone Institute, Abu Toameh returns to his theme and asks:
"If the Palestinian leaders do not want their citizens to seek medical aid in Israel, why don't they and their family members also boycott Israeli hospitals? Why do Palestinian leaders keep knocking on Israel's door for help in various fields?"
He characterizes what this 'leadership' is actually doing as "radicalizing Palestinians and eventually dragging them toward another confrontation with Israel".
On the same day that two Palestinian officials met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority issued an order banning Palestinians from making direct contact with Israeli authorities in the West Bank... The ban, which was issued by the Palestinian governor of Bethlehem, prohibits Palestinians from directly seeking the services of the Israeli District Coordination Committee [DCO]. Established under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the DCO's main mission is to provide various services to Palestinians, especially those who seek to enter Israel for medical treatment and work. Over the past two decades, tens of thousands of Palestinians have sought the services of the DCO also to facilitate travel arrangements and overcome bureaucratic hurdles. But now the Palestinian Authority government has decided to put an end to this phenomenon. Palestinians have warned that anyone who violates the latest ban would be punished...  If the Palestinian government does not want Palestinians to work in the settlements, why hasn't it provided them with alternative jobs or financial compensation?"
His analysis is here.

UPDATE Monday 5 pm: The Palestinian president is a leader in the efforts to break off communications and other dealings with the Israelis. But it appears he's also a leader in breaking off communications with his own prime minister. The idea that politics are advanced by refusing to speak with the party with whom you have a difference of views fits kindergarten squabbles (are you listening, Emma Thompson?) a good deal better than it does the world of grown-up disagreements on political or religious grounds. But what would we know?

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