Letter to Netanyahu

New city council member Fleur Hassan-Nahoum (photo credit: FACEBOOK)
New city council member Fleur Hassan-Nahoum
(photo credit: FACEBOOK)
Dear Mr. Prime Minister, I am a humble Jerusalem City councilor writing to you in a last-ditch attempt to help some of the most pained and vulnerable people in my city: the families who have had the wretched luck of having a child with cancer.
I believe you are aware of the situation at Hadassah Hospital’s world-renowned Pediatric Hematology Oncology Ward. The ward, as we know it, will cease to exist next week after a walkout of all the doctors and staff, led by the head of the department, Dr. Michael Weintraub.
I am sure you are also aware that they are willing to move the entire department to Shaarei Tzedek Hospital, and Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman has vetoed the move.
This means that the capital of the State of Israel, its largest and most populous city, will no longer offer best-ofclass pediatric oncology treatment.
Mr. Prime Minister, as you well know, every crisis has many culprits we can always find to blame.
We could blame Litzman for his stubbornness in blocking the reopening of the department at Shaarei Tzedek, because he needs Weintraub to remain the cash cow of a hospital in serious financial crisis.
We could blame the management of the hospital, who did not give Weintraub the resources he needed to deal efficiently and humanely with the extra volume of work caused by having to absorb more medical tourists (patients seeking private medical services, or sharap) as a result of their policy.
We could blame Weintraub for being unwilling to wait a little longer to give management a chance to change course, however unlikely that eventuality may seem.
We could blame Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, for his deafening silence on an issue that has punishing consequences for 250 of the weakest families in his city every year.
We could even zoom out and blame political power plays, bad management, bureaucracy, ego, or even Bernard Madoff.
But just for one terrifying minute, I would like you to put all that aside and imagine that your child, your most precious and loved possession in this universe, is suffering from a horrifying disease; even if there is a decent chance of survival, you will go through the daily agony of seeing them suffer for the next few years.
You will watch them lose weight and color, their hair, their laughter, their daily routine, their childhood.
You will lose motivation and energy for your work, career, partner or any daily enjoyment you had before this terrible thing happened.
You see good, kind, caring people around you doing their very best to treat your child like their own – but your child is sleeping in a hospital bed for weeks and months, away from their home, school, friends and family.
And to all of this misery you now pile on hours of travel, traffic, expense and distance from your community when you most need them.
Mr. Prime Minister, whether you can identify one factor or a combination of factors as to why children with cancer in Jerusalem are at this very moment being diverted from Hadassah to other hospitals around the country, the net result is the same – these children and their families now have additional suffering on top of the ravages of their disease. Your intervention is the only thing that could now ease the lives of these unfortunate children and their families.
I beg you to intervene.
The author is a Jerusalem City Council member, and head of the opposition Yerushalmim Party.