Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What we forget when we remember

Wednesday is Yom Hazikaron.

There really isn't anything to add to what we have already said and written about our precious Malki.

Snatched from us brutally in the 2001 Hamas bombing of Jerusalem's Sbarro pizzeria, she is mostly forgotten. 

The blood-thirst of that terror organization, its quest for murder of Jewish children, are also forgotten. 

The joy and pride of the mastermind of that Sbarro massacre, Ahlam Tamimi, are well and truly forgotten. 

And the fact that Tamimi is alive and well and free in Amman is not only forgotten - it has never been noted

Many across the globe now condemn Israel for defending itself against Hamas' latest attempts to infiltrate and murder on our soil. 

Perhaps a reminder of Hamas' past "achievements" will sway some of them. 

No words can do that better than those engraved on our Malki's tombstone:

Malka Chana Roth may G-d avenge her death
Dear granddaughter, daughter, sister
Devoted youth leader
Who did kindnesses and spread happiness

Born in Melbourne, Australia
14th Kislev תשמ"ו
Rose heavenward in a storm
in the center of Jerusalem
20th of Menachem Av, תשס"א

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Aleh's dictionary of disabilities

My sculpture: "Mother and Baby" (2008)
Aleh, Israel's largest chain of large, closed institutions for babies, children and adults with disabilities, persistently hijacks terms popular in the current disability narrative for its own advancement.

It misuses those terms in ways that are often diametrically opposed to their true definitions. Below are several examples:

"Inclusion"

As Aleh uses the term, it means isolation of children and adults with disabilities in large, closed institutions, permitting them contact with the outside world via visits and occasional outings. Here is an example of Aleh's use ad nauseum of the term "inclusion" in a report about its participation in the recent Jerusalem Marathon: 
 "Israel’s foremost network of care for children with severe complex disabilities, transformed the eighth annual Jerusalem Marathon into a celebration of disability inclusion and acceptance... ALEH was everywhere at once, spreading the message of inclusion..."
Real definition: 
"Inclusion of people with disabilities into everyday activities involves practices and policies designed to identify and remove barriers such as physical, communication, and attitudinal, that hamper individuals' ability to have full participation in society, the same as people without disabilities... Disability inclusion involves input from people with disabilities, generally through disability-focused and independent living organizations, in program or structural design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation." [Website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention]
"Complex disabilities" 

As Aleh uses the term, it means disabilities beyond the mild to moderate - disabilities which rob a child of his right to live at home with family. Aleh often describes itself in this way: "Israel's foremost network of care for children and young adults with severe complex disabilities" [Example]

Real definition:
Children with complex difficulties may need a multiprofessional input. Members of the team can include a developmental paediatrician, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, speech and language therapist, psychologist, special needs teacher, social worker and liaison health visitor. [From the patient.info website]
"Adoption of a child with disabilities"

As Aleh uses the term, it means a donation of cash to Aleh enterprises linked to the name of a child residing in one of its institutions. For instance -
"Forge a special relationship of your own by “adopting” one of ALEH’s children and sponsoring the therapies that will help him or her grow and develop. Keep in touch and see the difference you are making via a progress report and pictures." [Page entitled "Adopt A Child" on the Aleh website]
Real definition: 
Adoption is a process whereby a person assumes the parenting of another, usually a child, from that person's biological or legal parent or parents, and, in so doing, permanently transfers all rights and responsibilities, along with filiation, from the biological parent or parents. [Wikipedia]
"Family"

As Aleh uses the term, it means staff at Aleh institutions caring for the resident children and adults in lieu of their real families. Aleh repeatedly refers to itself as the "Aleh family". For instance,  a staff member states on a video clip that is published on the Aleh website: 
"I joined this amazing Aleh family because I want to help them change attitudes toward the disabled" [Video via YouTube]
Real definition: 
A group of people who are related to each other, such as a mother, a father, and their children [Cambridge Dictionary]
"Home"
As Aleh uses the term, it means Aleh's four large, closed institutions in Bnei Brak, Gedera, Jerusalem and a location in the Negev wherein reside a very large number of children and adults with disabilities:
Over 750 children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and medical conditions receive advanced medical, educational and rehabilitative care in ALEH’s four residential facilities. [The Aleh website's home page]
Here's how they're distributed (yes, I know the total below seems to be much less than the total above, but I am simply quoting them):
  • Jerusalem: "ALEH Jerusalem is much more than a facility.  It is a warm and loving home, founded on the belief that every individual is special and equally deserving of love, respect, and the opportunity to develop to full potential while enjoying true quality of life..." On the home page: "At a Glance: 80 residents". On this page, 82 (including "70 children and young adults")
  • Aleh Negev in Ofakim: "190 residents | Young adults-age 50, and highly dependent children" and (on the same page) "the facility is currently home to over 140 young people"
  • Gedera: "At Moriah, ALEH’s residential facility in Gedera, nearly 100 children and young people with complex disabilities receive the devoted, round-the-clock care they need to stay healthy and realize their potential" - and on the same page "10-30 years old | 109 residents"
  • Bnei Brak: "The Beit Yahalom housing facility is ALEH’s flagship and first and oldest department. It provides a warm, home environment for severely handicapped children, and provides all the care they need... 85 residents | Infants-45 years old"
Real definition:
The place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. [Oxford Living Dictionaries]
Some readers of this post may be wondering what you can do to counter the impact of Aleh's high-powered PR machine. 



I'd like to suggest contributing to the installation of Jerusalem's first wheelchair-accessible playground swing. (It's in the video above.) Currently, not even one such swing exists in the entire city. My hope is that they will eventually be scattered throughout the city and the country, providing a fun, free activity to children with disabilities within the general community. 

Your donation will enable you to play an active role in educating Israelis about true inclusion, about living together with people who have disabilities. Not just visiting them in their closed institutions for photo ops.

A crowd-sourcing site for this project will soon be posted. Watch this space.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Geraldo regrets

So, Geraldo, you regret not joining Ahlam Tamimi in the massacre she perpetrated in 2001 at Jerusalem's Sbarro Restaurant murdering fifteen? 

Smiling on camera when she learned that eight of her victims were children? 

Boasting to this day about her "achievement" to crowds of fans? 

Important for me to know - my precious child was among the dead.

Some background here. And the video below:



Here's the text:
I regret in 2002 backing down from backing the Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. The Second Intifada. Because I saw with my own eyes how. And I know how this is going to resonate very poorly with the people watching right now. But still, I have to tell you how I feel. I saw at firsthand how those people were. And now you said 14, 15 people killed in Gaza. Palestinians killed by the IDF forces. I saw what an awful life they live under constant occupation and oppression. And people keep saying, "Oh, they are terrorists. Or they are this or they are that." They are an occupied people and I regret chickening out after 2002 and not staying on that story and adding my voice as a Jew, adding my voice to those counseling a two-state solution. It is so easy to put them out of sight, out of mind. And let them rot. And be killed. And keep this thing festering. And I think a lot of our current problems stem from – that's almost our original sin. Palestine and Israel. I want a two-state solution. I want President Trump to re-energize the peace process.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Behind the slick PR, something disturbing at Aleh

Oops. Did the Aleh PR team goof?

It recently uploaded a video clip [here] featuring parents who handed their children over to that institution on a permanent basis. One parent's comments are so incriminating of Aleh that it leads a person to wonder whether the normally slick Aleh PR team were asleep at the wheel.

In the clip, three parents whose children live at Aleh institutions relate their decisions to remove the child from the family home.

One father says:
"When Roni was 4, my wife was killed in a car accident, Roni's mother. The phone rang. I answered and heard, "Shalom. My name is Yehuda Marmorstein, I'm CEO of Aleh. I heard about what happened to you and I want you to know that there's a place in Jerusalem where Roni can be..."
So much for the contention that parents turn to Aleh in desperation and without alternative options. This father is saying he was approached by the CEO of Aleh who urged him to hand his child over to their care. Apparently nobody from any government body or social service agency reached out to this widower with alternative solutions to his predicament. If they did, they made no impact on him because he only mentions Aleh's Rabbi Marmorstein.

The other parents, a married couple, interviewed for the clip, emphasize how helpless and incompetent many parents feel when they learn that their child has serious disabilities.

Now this is clearly a view that Aleh is keen to disseminate. But is it accurate? 

Parents' intuition about their children is a known and highly regarded phenomenon. They are rarely clueless. Quite the contrary. And with the input of professionals in school and at-home therapies, parents can equip themselves to raise even the most profoundly-disabled children in an exemplary manner.

This is a truth that Aleh seems eager to conceal. They encourage this father's sentiment:
"It's a hard decision, but we knew for sure that it was right. Part of raising a special needs child is to know when to let go. [In the video clip, Aleh translates the term "להרפות" as "to step back" but it actually means "to let go", a less palatable characteristic of institutionalization.] To know I can give her what I can give at home. And she can get the rest of what she needs somewhere else."
Another parent is quoted saying
"They know here much better than I do what he can do and how much more he can still advance in every area, whether it has to do with technology or it has to do with care".
So evidently Aleh convinces these parents of special children that, unlike the challenge of raising healthy children, this is one they are incapable of facing. 

It is a despicable message. 

I believe it is the duty of the professionals in contact with these parents to counter and even to condemn it. Clearly, in many instances, those professionals - doctors, therapists, social workers - have dropped the ball.

As one of the fathers I mentioned above wonders:
"What can you do? What treatments can you give? Where can you put him? These questions arise and there are no real answers."
Actually there are myriad real answers other than Aleh - for instance day care followed by special schools that fill a child's day with therapies and attention six days a week. His question is baffling as I know from personal experience.

A concluding line spoken by the mother of that child demonstrates how confused these parents are. She says: 
"Aleh enables a family like ours to raise their child and live a normal life. It's the right balance."
Who will enlighten her? Who will break the harsh news to her? She is not raising her child in any sense of the word. That is a mission she has abdicated.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My birthday wish is justice

March 14 is my birthday. But since last year the day has gained secondary significance in our home.

On March 14, 2017, my husband and I along with the parents of Shoshana Hayman Greenbaum were invited to meet officials of the US Department of Justice and the FBI at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. 

Several of those representatives had periodically spoken to us, ever since PM Netanyahu decided in 2011 to free 1,027 convicted terrorists including our daughter's murderer. We had pleaded with him to exclude from that list Ahlam Tamimi, the chief orchestrator and a perpetrator of the 2001 Sbarro bombing. 

Tamimi had confessed to,  and been convicted of, the murders of 15 people, eight of them children. She had been sentenced to 16 life terms. But Mr. Netanyahu, in a move far more immoral than any of the offenses of which he is now being accused, ignored us. 

On October 18, 2011, at his instruction, Tamimi was released along with 1,026 other terrorists - more than half of whom were convicted of murder or attempted murder - in order to retrieve Gilad Shalit. 

Last year at that meeting in the King David Hotel, we received what I naively believed would be a wonderful birthday gift: the news that Ahlam Tamimi was being indicted by the US for the murders of two Americans in the Sbarro massacre. Those victims were the pregnant 31 year old only child of the Haymans. And our 15 year old child, Malki.

But within minutes, it emerged that the "gift" was a curse, a source of yet more heartache. We learned then that the US had demanded Tamimi's extradition from Jordan to stand trial on US soil only to be met with a flat refusal by King Abdullah's regime for various bogus reasons.

Jordan had signed an extradition treaty with the US in 1995 and subsequently released several Jordanians to US custody in accordance with that same agreement. In the case of Tamimi, a woman of near-iconic stature in that country, Jordan behaves as if none of that ever happened.

Since March 14, 2017, we have discovered another painful reality: the United States appears unwilling to risk jeopardizing its friendship with Jordan's King Abdullah. It has avoided pressuring the king to buttress with actions his incessant chirping about "fighting terrorism". 

From the FBI Most Wanted
Terrorists website
He is lauded by both the US and Israel for being a staunch enemy of terrorists while harboring Tamimi, a mass-murdering Hamas agent. 

Through her Al QudsTV talk show, which she hosted until shortly before her US indictment, she has been brazenly inciting Muslims to the murder of more Jews. In speeches she has delivered throughout the Arab world she has boasted of her "accomplishments" and urged her fans to emulate them.

So as on every birthday since Mr. Netanyahu's infamous Shalit Deal, I pray and wish for the day that my Malki's murder will receive the just end it demands - Ahlam Tamimi behind US prison bars for life.

[A version of this piece was originally published in Times of Israel on March 14, 2018.]

Sunday, March 11, 2018

On the backs of children with disabilities: 3 Aleh tales

The caption on the original reads: "The prisoners
shed their uniforms before arriving
at ALEH to volunteer." [
Image Source]
One

Aleh has been congratulating itself for a program that it boasts rehabilitates felons. Only it does so on the backs of children and adults with severe disabilities.

It is now abundantly clear how respected this program is elsewhere: since its launch in 2008, no other institution has copied it anywhere in the world! This has been verified by the International Corrections and Prison Association ("ICPA"), an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. 

In 2011, ICPA bestowed the Offender Management and Reintegration Award on that Aleh program. But when contacted, the ICPA could not name another such program in any other prison. For corroboration it referred me to the Israel Prisons Service

Here is their response:
Dear Frimet Roth
I received your question from Fraser Brayns [of the ICPA]
As you know, this is a unique project that was initiated at the Israel prison service.
I asked around and we are not familiar with similar projects that are currently being implemented in other countries. [Emphasis added - FR]
Please don't hesitate to contact me on any further question.
Best wishes
Abigael 
(I first reported this is December 2016. See this post.)

Aleh Negev itself conceded that this is not exactly a safe model: none of the prisoners bussed there several times a week is allowed contact with any female or any minor Aleh residents. Nor may they enter the institution's therapy pool. 

No puzzle here. These are not ex-convicts but men who have not yet served out their sentences which, by Aleh's account, can even top seven years in prison. Israel's justice system does not impose terms that long for mild offenses. 

But what is infuriating is that those same prisoners are deemed by Aleh harmless enough to remove their prison garb, blend in with the staff and engage in one-on-one contact with its vulnerable male residents.

Two

We've been reminded by our State Attorney Shai Nitzan (as I wrote in "Is this why our government loves Aleh?") that Israel's resource-deprived southern periphery is blessed by the employment opportunities provided by those same citizens with disabilities

Twelve years ago, I wrote ["Institutionalization isn't the answer", Jerusalem Post, June 28, 2006] about the then-nascent Aleh Negev project that Aleh's promoters had snared 46.5 million taxpayers' shekels and 100 dunams of public land. 

The bait included 500 jobs to boost the ailing Negev economy; creating lucrative on-site businesses including a coffee company; a for-profit paramedical therapies center; and opportunities for local high school students to earn matriculation points by volunteering.
The CEO at the time of Bizchut, the Center for Human Rights of People with Disabilities, Sylvia Tessler-Lazovic, wrote a scathing critique (in Hebrew, here) of Aleh Negev in reaction to the 2003 groundbreaking ceremony:
The Israeli government is allegedly demonstrating social sensitivity of the first degree in building a magnificent village for one of society's "weakest" populations. In a period of severe financial shortage, the government is withholding no professional or monetary resources from this group, allots a large tract of land for the construction of the village and develops a grand plan for it. It appears that its residents will receive the best care that money can buy. Establishing the village will also bring salvation to the unemployment struck desert by providing 500 jobs to operate it. In this article I intend to show that the decision to build this village doesn't show social sensitivity at all but is tainted with extreme immorality that opposes the rights of people with disabilities to equality and is illegal. [Translated to English by me.]
Illustrative [Image Source]
Three

And now, this month, we've been informed that on the backs of Aleh residents, other citizens with disabilities are being employed - as gardeners on the Aleh Negev grounds: "New ALEH Program Creates Equal Employment Opportunities", February 19, 2018.

In this latest ruse, people with disabilities are being used at both ends - they create the jobs and they fill them. 

For an overview of my general critique of Aleh's approach - its methodology, its funding, its public relations -  see "Disabled: The pursuit of housing equality for Israel’s underclass" [Times of Israel, August 11, 2013]

The message must be reiterated loud and clear. Regardless of the benefits derived for the rest of society, locking up and isolating our children with disabilities is not OK.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Welcome to "quality" special education in Jerusalem

I gave a "tremp" yesterday to a woman I recognized from my daughter Chaya's "alma mater".

Of course, I grabbed the opportunity to inquire about the state of the school since C.'s graduation. It had switched, at that time, from the province of an amuta to that of the Ministry of Education. I was curious about the impact that transfer had had. 

The woman couldn't stop gushing about the change. When I asked for details, she noted "various benefits and gifts to the staff" including a reduction in work days from six to 5 per week for teacher's aides, which she is. 

All in all, she concluded, "things are great". 

Then I asked her what the administrative switch had done for the children. Were they receiving more therapies, for instance? (While Chaya attended, the number of therapies per week was piddling. At best, one half hour session per week of physio, occupational, speech therapy and hydrotherapy.)

But rarely if ever did all those eventuate. Therapists would be out for myriad reasons and staff meetings were always held during therapy hours. 

"No", she replied, unhesitatingly. "They receive fewer therapies. 

"But everybody seems pleased," she added. "I haven't heard any parents complaining". 

I choked... This woman was praising the new administration despite its harm to the children. And those children are entrusted to her care. 

Not very reassuring, to put it mildly.

PS We didn't manage to get to the neurologist this week as we had intended. But for now we aren't feeling the urgency.  Chaya has grown weary of that mysterious vomiting and has even cut back on her central fevers. My husband plans to meet the neurologist next week to discuss strategies for reducing seizures, He'll go without Chaya since she's been thoroughly examined by the pediatrician just last week. Yeah, I know, we never seem to give up the fight.