Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Israel Prize: More about the strange choice of recipient

My daughter Chaya's first portrait as
a 21 year old: April 27 was her birthday
What a strange world we live in... said Alice to the Queen of hearts

* * *
Life in Israel these days is reminiscent of Alice's Wonderland

Since the Ministry of Education named him as a recipient of the 2016 Israel Prize, Doron Almog has been repeatedly interviewed on television and in the print media. This has afforded us all the chance to hear at length from him about his passion for the institutionalization of children with disabilities.

Almog does an exemplary job of rationalizing his life's mission. Speaking with pathos and interspersed with personal, heart-wrenching anecdotes, he makes a convincing case for the argument that closed institutions for our citizens with disabilities are the ideal care solution.

Not that he appears aware that there is an argument about it at all. The option of keeping these children with their families and  in our communities does not seem to occur to him.

In every interview, Almog's late, non-verbal son Eran "speaks" to him. Almog has him urging his father to act on his behalf as well as that of his fellow children with disabilities. We are then led to believe that sending his 13 year old son away to live in Aleh Negev fulfills that "request".

We are told that after fifteen minutes of Almog plugging his "dream" of a new institution in  Ofakim, that city's then-mayor asks "Is this intended for the retarded?" When Almog tells him that it is indeed, the mayor refuses because "It will devalue our real estate and the neighbors will complain".

So Almog opts for the middle of the desert where the mayor of Merhavim, Avner Mori, happily hands him one hundred dunams of land.

Throughout the video of this interview, we see footage of Almog cuddling and caressing children at Aleh Negev. It is abundantly clear that many of them are far from profoundly impaired. In fact, some simply have Downs Syndrome!  I know parents who adopted children with Downs and raised them with love and devotion.

Has the Ministry of Education ever considered those parents for the Israel Prize?

To be continued: more revelations from the Almog interviews.

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