'Israel responsible for child in Thai monastery'
NGO to Post: State accountable for welfare of child with leukemia living in Bangkok without his family; child seeks to return to Israel.
Buddhist monks leave a temple in Bangkok [file] Photo: reuters
Israel is responsible for the welfare of a 12-year-old Israeli child living
without his family for a year in Thailand, the Council for the Child told The
Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The story was reported by Channel 2 earlier
this week. It came to light after a group of Israeli tourists was approached by
the boy while visiting Buddhist temples in Bangkok. The youngster was wearing
the orange robe of a Buddhist monk and spoke in Hebrew.
The boy, who was
diagnosed with leukemia at age 7, had undergone successful chemotherapy
treatment in Israel. But when the disease reappeared a couple of years later his
parents decided to send him to a monastery in Thailand where they believed he
could recuperate through meditation and Buddhist healing methods.
met the tourists he expressed a desire to return to Israel and to his
Channel 2 interviewed the mother by telephone on
“Kids also have desires to eat chocolate or play computer
games,” she said. “That’s why there are parents, that’s why we have to make the
difficult decisions. If he comes back it means coming back to the oncology
The mother expressed discontent with the Israeli health
system, which, she said, had not helped her child.
“What is medicine in
Israel giving me?” she asked rhetorically.
“Chemotherapy, which damages
the brain, damages the ability to develop? So what? Cancer is not a flu that
goes away.... People who get the disease twice are a closed case. So he has
another few years to live maybe.”
She added that physicians “don't know
how to heal.”
“Doctors know how to decompose the harmful elements,” she
claimed. “It’s a different thing.”
Dr. Yitzhak Kadman, executive director
of the Council for the Child, explained that his organization had been aware of
the case before it was brought to light and had started examining the issue
“There is a moral issue here,” he told the Post. “A situation
in which a child, healthy or not, is thousands of kilometers from home, without
his family, in a country that is not his, with a language that is not his, is
[in] a risky situation and it is not right.”
Kadman emphasized that this
was a long-term stay, not a “summer camp.”
“A child needs to live with
his family, with his friends, with a school that teaches in his language,” he
“All these things go without saying.”
He added that
when it learned about the story, the Council turned to the Ministry of Justice
and Ministry of Social Affairs.
“We suggested two things, which we still
believe should be done today,” he explained.
“First, our embassy there
needs to send an Israeli official to see the child and assess the situation.
Second, we believe this issue needs to be brought to youth court to evaluate the
pros and cons, and determine if this child should be brought back to
Kadman added that while the case should be examined by the
authorities, it is also important to respect the parents’ autonomy.
is the parents’ right to raise their family the way they want, but this is as
long at their beliefs don’t hurt or endanger the child,” he said.
the child gets hurt, that is where parental autonomy ends. Regardless of this,
the State of Israel is responsible for the welfare of this child.”