Israel Medical Association demands apology from HMO head over Purim joke

For his Purim costume, Rotstein dressed as Litzman, with a white beard and Gerer hassidic garb.

(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Israel Medical Association demanded an apology on Tuesday from Hadassah Medical Organization director-general Prof. Zeev Rotstein, who on Purim sent “friends” a text message that depicted six oncologists who decided to resign from HMO as Haman, Vashti and other nasty characters – and himself as Mordechai the Jew.
Rotstein described Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman – his patron who appointed him to run HMO – as Ahasuerus, and called the medical center’s competitor, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, “the kingdom of Ee-Tzedek (lack of justice).”
For his Purim costume, Rotstein’s dressed as Litzman, with a white beard and Gerer hassidic garb. The HMO head prefaced his attempts at humor by calling everything he wrote “fictional.”
The IMA said, even under the cover of the joyous holiday, it was unthinkable to ridicule Prof. Michael Weintraub.
Weintraub is known as a selfless and greatly respected pediatric hematologist-oncologist. In June, he plans to leave the Ein Kerem hospital along with five other senior physicians in protest against Rotstein’s management, where the director-general planned to combine the pediatric hematology-oncology department with its adult counterpart as a money-saving effort.
Weintraub and his colleagues have said that such a decision would seriously endanger the lives and health of children with blood cancers who are treated and followed there.
“You chose to compare an esteemed physician to the evil Haman, one of the great oppressors of the Jewish people through the generations, and a doctor to Queen Vashti who rebelled against her husband the king, and other doctors to Vaizatha, one of Haman’s 10 evil sons.”
Rotstein also joked that the six doctors had “plotted to destroy the Kingdom of Ein Kerem.”
The IMA said it has always worked to preserve the honor of its physician members, “thus we must protest against your hurtful comparison. We oppose your words of defamation and slander,” it continued. “Your words have done nothing to contribute to the current delicate and fragile condition of HMO.
The atmosphere at Hadassah must be changed, and the great contribution of its doctors and other staffers should be praised, with HMO going on a new path to draft all forces to save and advance the hospital[s].”
Asked to comment, Rotstein said through his spokeswoman Hadar Elboim that it was amazing the IMA attacked the “humorous scroll written on Purim, and in its spirit where there is no connection between Megilat Hadassah [Hadassah is a name for Esther] and reality.”
“What is more upsetting than the humorous megila,” the response continued, “is that the IMA represents the doctors of Hadassah, supports in money, spirit and lawyers and public relations offices, a group of six doctors who are due to abandon the hospital in two months, together with the children they have been treating – all for no reason. They create the illusion that there is a solution elsewhere [Shaare Zedek]. There is no doubt that this is a serious violation of the physicians’ oath. If the IMA does not prevent the abandonment by the doctors, all Israeli doctors and the IMA will bear responsibility for the loss of the Israeli doctor’s status.”