Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The minister needs an education

The Aleh Negev facility: Home?
Recently, my husband met with a senior official in one of the government ministries to discuss matters relating to Keren Malki, the Malki Foundation, the non-profit we together founded in 2001 to memorialize our murdered daughter, Malki.

As the conversation drew to a close, the official praised the foundation's work subsidizing para-medical therapies for children with disabilities who live with their families. But she differed with Arnold on one point: she believes that raising such children is not just a privilege, as he had said to her, but an obligation.

While we do not state our views as dogmatically as she did, I do often wonder how parents who abandon their children with disabilities rationalize that step. What explanation do they give their other children for refusing to raise their sibling? Do they concede "Well, he didn't live up to our dreams and expectations so we decided to dump him in an institution?"

How do they reassure their other children who quite possibly lie awake at night wondering "Will I also be abandoned for getting lousy grades in school? Or for getting into fights with my classmates? Or for being punished by my principal?"

Such ponderings would only be natural.

Despite that senior official's encouraging words the Israeli government persists in entrenching institutionalization in Israel. Today we learned that Education Minister Naftali Bennett visited Aleh Negev on December 4th to laud the establishment there of the first Bnei Akiva branch for children with disabilities.

Please enough smoke in our eyes!

When will this government wake up and smell the coffee? It is alone in the developed world. Its regressive attitudes to children and adults with disabilities have been rejected by other enlightened states. In February 2016, Mr. Bennett visited Aleh Negev, and his praise for the institution matched his words this week. He has had plenty of time to learn of Lumos and its tireless efforts to end global institutionalization; to read the warnings of professionals against the physical and emotional harm that life in large, closed institutions inflicts on its inmates. But he clearly hasn't done so.

His continued  support for Aleh violates the civil rights of citizens with disabilities and is a blight on our society.  Mr Bennett, who clearly hasn't made any progress in the last two years said:
"You, at ALEH, are the torchbearers, and you cast light upon us all – light for the children who need it most, light for their parents, light for all of Israel, and a 'light unto the nations'.” ["Naftali Bennett visits ALEH", December 4, 2017]

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