Thursday, May 12, 2016

Two sisters

Malki, at the age of eleven, holding her
baby sister Chaya.
Malki was murdered in a
terror attack when she was 15.
While today is a joyous holiday for most of us, it is also the day following Yom Hazikaron for us. As such, it visits lingering grief, longing and anger on me and my family more intense than we feel every day.

Malki was so very unique and precious a child that having her snatched from us by the mass murderers Hamas and Ahlam Tamimi is a pill that sometimes feels too bitter to bear.

I am left with two hopes: that Malki will continue to be remembered for her goodness and talents by all who knew her and that she will see justice done in the near future. Her murderer, Tamimi, is free as a lark thanks to her release by PM Binyamin Netanyahu in 2011 as part of the outrageous Shalit Deal.

Until the day of her murder, Malki was a devoted sister to Chaya. She eased immensely the burden of raising such a disabled child in ways that I don't believe another teenager ever could.

I am certain that she too would be distressed by today's presentation of the Israel Prize to this country's single most passionate and successful proponent of institutionalization of children with disabilities - Doron Almog.

Here is a transcript of more of Almog's rationalization of founding the enormous institution "Aleh Negev" and depositing his late son, Eran, there at the age of 13. (The interview is from a YouTube video here, in Hebrew. I translated to English):
"Between me and Eran there is a deep discourse. He tells me: you could be ashamed of me like many other parents. You could put me up for adoption with a family overseas never to visit ,never to tell anyone, to hide the fact that you have a retarded child. If you do that you are the weak one of us two. Your being ashamed reflects on you, you are not a father for me, perhaps not even worthy of the title "human being". And because I'm really the weak one between us I need your protection..." 
Almog notes that
"there are more than a few parents who don't visit, though we make efforts to have them come; not a few are abandoned."
Almog never gives a number; "not a few" is deliberately vague. We are left to wonder whether perhaps a significant number of parents want no contact with their children. If that were the case, wouldn't Almog specify it? After all it would buttress his and Aleh's  premise that institutions are a necessity.

Clearly, it is minimal. The majority of parents want to love and care for their children. They simply find the burden overwhelming in their current circumstances. This has been Lumos' experience in far more impoverished countries than ours.

Here, with 85% of Aleh's annual $30 million budget [source] shouldered by the Israeli government, it is no wonder that mere pennies remain for the children who are living at home.

Like a thug who beats you up and then offers you a hankie to wipe away the tears, our government neglects children with profound disabilities living at home, lavishes multi-millions of dollars on institutions and declares to us: "There you are! A grandiose solution for your poor children!"

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