Thursday, May 24, 2018

Two absurd Aleh activities and a swing update

From the swing-maker's website
I haven't abandoned that dream about a special swing for children with disabilities ["The pilot project"] but have hit a bureaucratic snag. I can't even get to first base - approval from the municipality.

I'd been instructed by a representative of the parks department to first submit a written description of the swing I'd like to donate through crowd-sourcing, its cost, the location of my choice, and whether I'd like to dedicate it to somebody specific. I complied and their response was the following (my translation):
Equipment of this sort has never been installed in Jerusalem. We need to examine the technical details of this item of equipment and determine whether the municipality will be able to maintain this type of equipment. Only after examining the above topic and receipt of authorization from the relevant bodies will it be possible to install such a swing and to maintain it. We will be in touch with you in order to survey possible optimal venues for installation of the swing.
Hmmm. Given that two such swings already exist in Hadera and the swing maker's website lists 215 installed sites worldwide not including the two in Israel, this gobbledygook was upsetting, to put it mildly.

I read it as: 
"We're not interested in your offer. It's a nuisance. So please go away and come back - never."
Not giving up yet on this minor dream. We've arranged to meet with the Israeli distributor of this swing on Monday in a local cafe. Hope he will get us beyond this impasse.

On the Aleh front, I was infuriated, as I usually am, by a recent PR piece [here] posted on their website. It seems that a platoon of well-intentioned Hareidi girls studying in Israel on a year program at Beit Yaakov Seminary have been visiting children who live in Aleh. They stand beside their beds at night in order to recite the nightly prayer of Sh'ma Yisrael - Hear O Israel. The PR folks referred to this as an act of "motherly love". They gushed that the girls are "imparting to them the warmth and love of home and belonging". 

Now really. Please. These children may have "complex severe disabilities" (that's Aleh's favored term to describe its residents) but even they can distinguish between strangers visiting briefly to recite a prayer - and a mother's love. They may not have been home for years but even they are aware that the large, cold institution they are warehoused in is not their home.

And while we're on the topic of ill-conceived projects at Aleh, let's segue to Aleh's "Prisoner rehabilitation program". I hadn't seen any mention of it for about a year and had hoped that perhaps they had finally come to their senses and phased it out. Then last week Aleh touted it anew here.

So I feel obliged to reiterate some of what has been learned about this utterly absurd project. See for instance these earlier posts: "Can Aleh get its prisoners story straight?" (December 13, 2016) and
"More things we ought to know about Aleh" (December 2, 2016)

The prisoners - referred to as "detainees" in the recent piece - are permitted one-on-one contact with our most vulnerable citizens. They are free to remove their prison garb and circulate on the grounds of the institutions in civies which obviously makes it that much harder to notice and supervise them.

They are not ex-convicts. All are still serving prison sentences - some have been incarcerated for as long as seven years in a country where sentences for serious crimes are notoriously short. They are forbidden contact with female and minor residents of the institutions and are barred from the hydrotherapy pool.

All of the above information was gleaned from Aleh's own news releases about the program! All of those releases insist that these criminals are perfectly harmless.

I have also consulted independently with the International Corrections and Prison Association (ICPA, a non-governmental organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations) and with the spokesperson for the Israel Prison Services. Both assured me that they know of nowhere else in the world implementing this hair-brained project.

And, needless to say, nowhere in Israel's schools for children without disabilities have any criminals - please let's call a spade a spade - been invited to work with the pupils.

The following is from Aleh's recent piece about the program:
Lieutenant General Ofra Kleiner and senior management staff were recently welcomed to ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, setting yet another milestone in the long-running relationship between the village and the Israel Prison Service. Collaboration between the two organizations is mainly expressed via the prisoner rehabilitation program, in which inmates from various southern penal facilities volunteer at ALEH Negev-Nahalat Eran, arriving on a weekly basis to work with residents.
Notice the phrase "mainly expressed". Of course that has me wondering what other activities this "collaboration" entails. That remains to be discovered.

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