Our short-term memory is all too often woefully deficient. Three-year-old Adele Biton, who couldn’t recite the Four Questions at her family’s Seder on Monday night, offers a heartbreaking case in point.
Doubtless the Jewish nation boasts collective memory as no other. We just participated in the Passover Seder that recounts events from well over three millennia ago. Indeed, the Seder’s raison d’être is to pass on shared heritage to the younger generations.
That said, few among us recall that last March, Arab terrorists threw rocks at the family car in which Adele traveled. Adva Biton drove it and her three young daughters were its passengers. As the vehicle drove near Ariel, a hail of stones caused it to crash. All its occupants were wounded.
Adele’s fate was worst. A fist-sized rock struck her directly in the head. The medical odds were that she wouldn’t survive. Somehow nevertheless, doctors at Schneider Children’s Hospital in Petah Tikva kept the toddler alive.
At the end of last May, she was transferred semi-comatose to Beit Levinstein Rehabilitation Hospital in Ra’anana, where she remains in a partially conscious state.
Beit Levinstein has of late concluded that it can do no more for the tiny patient.
From the administration’s point of view the situation was one-dimensional. No further benefit could be accrued from keeping the patient in the ward. While she cannot be helped, Adele is taking up a bed and constituting a daily drain on hospital resources.
This may sound callous yet taxpayers do expect publicly funded institutions to mind every shekel of our money. If they do not, we carp and protest.
But Beit Levinstein was too gung-ho in its perceived economy-drive. Apparently suffering from a bout of bureaucratic amnesia and overlooking the tragic circumstances involved, the hospital’s executives threatened to evict Adele. They informed the parents that the girl had to be removed immediately.
Caring for a severely handicapped child in an average family dwelling is easier said than done. The Bitons need to make their home wheelchair-accessible and equip it with all the special paraphernalia upon which Adele will depend.
Unfortunately, Beit Levinstein’s alacrity to send Adele home was not matched by rapid response from the National Insurance Institute to the child’s needs.
Only recently did the NII approve the claim filed six months ago by the family for financial aid to modify the home for little Adele. The work involved could take as long as five more months.
But that is the least of what the Bitons face. Adele is due to undergo bone graft surgery to her head and is susceptible to a variety of infections and other problems from even slight triggers such as low-grade fevers.
This impasse finally reached the Kfar Saba Magistrate’s Court, which ordered the hospital not to eject the helpless Adele. The issue was deferred to another court session next month, during which time the patient is not to be removed against her family’s will.
Clearly this sad saga is not over and this is not just the family’s private hardship. As a society, we should not acquiesce to such distressing dramas, where victims of terrorism and their next of kin are left essentially on their own.
Compelling such unfortunate people to fend for themselves should be wholly unthinkable.
We are the country that prides itself on providing medical treatment for our enemies and which cares without recompense for victims of Syria’s mayhem.
We are the country that let former prime minister Ariel Sharon stay nominally alive on life support for eight years.
It should not take the NII so many months to come to the aid of a stricken family, and the hospital should tighten its belt elsewhere. There should be no quibbling about our duty to an innocent victim of terrorism.
We should not be so quick to forget.
Moreover, we should remind the international community of what the very terrorists whom it pressures Israel to set loose did.