Health Ministry D-G mulling capital mayoral run sparks outrage

Parents of children suffering from cancer have accused the Health Ministry under the leadership of Litzman and Bar Siman Tov of betraying their children.

Moshe Bar Siman Tov. (photo credit: FINANCE MINISTRY)
Moshe Bar Siman Tov.
(photo credit: FINANCE MINISTRY)
The prospective candidacy of Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman Tov for mayor of Jerusalem faced sharp criticism on Thursday, due to his role in the Hadassah-University Medical Center pediatric hemato-oncology crisis last year.
Bar Siman Tov, who was appointed to his current post by Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman, is being considered by haredi (ultra-Orthodox) politicians to be their candidate in the October 30 election to succeed Nir Barkat.
Bar Siman Tov was criticized along with Litzman for his poor handling of the crisis. A former senior Treasury official and the first non-physician to be appointed director-general of the Health Ministry, Bar Siman Tov conceded that he made errors in handling the crisis, in which most of the doctors of the department resigned.
Parents of children suffering from cancer have accused the Health Ministry under the leadership of Litzman and Bar Siman Tov of betraying their children. Jerusalem City Councilwoman Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, who heads the Yerushalmim party, said Simantov needed to apologize to those families and ensure that the capital will have a proper pediatric hemato-oncology department before running for office.
”This man has a moral debt to the parents of children in Jerusalem who have cancer and who every day have to add to the hardships of their disease by traveling out of the city,” she said. “A person who has been so reckless with the suffering of others is not fit to run Jerusalem. There is no reason why children sick with cancer need to be hospitalized in distant health wards due to financial disputes. He must first fix what he is responsible for on behalf of Jerusalem children, before helping himself.”
Hassan-Nahoum, whose party has not endorsed a candidate, said there was no chance that secular and pluralistic Jerusalemites would support Bar Siman Tov. She said she is still checking who the best candidate is to represent the interests of the pluralistic public in Jerusalem and manage the city.
When asked about Bar Siman Tov’s chances of being their candidate, United Torah Judaism sources in Jerusalem said “everything is possible,” but that Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, coalition chairman David Amsalem, and Deputy Mayor Moshe Leon had more of a chance. The sources said Leon’s chances of being the candidate of the haredim had been harmed by the tense relationship between them and his mentor, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
The Health Ministry said Bar Siman Tov declined to comment other than to say that he is “devoting 100% of his time to being Health Ministry director-general.”
The pediatric hemato-oncology department at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem was the only hospital in the capital where children with cancer could undergo bone-marrow transplants from compatible donors before its nine oncologists left en masse.