Monday, March 22, 2010

And you shall choose life (and not move hospitals)

The Israeli Government caved in to pressure from the UTJ and has decided to move the emergency room from Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon to its parking lot -- because renovation revealed there are human remains at the current ER's site, where they wanted to expand and renovate the ER and bomb proof it.

The cost of moving the ER: A staggering 135 Million Shekels (about 36 Million US Dollars)

"To protest Sunday’s decision, which will boost costs of the project by some NIS 135 million, cause years of delays due to new planning needs and lead to the much-needed structure being relatively far from the main hospital building, Health Ministry Director-General Dr. Eitan Hai-Am resigned on the spot.

Hai-Am, a respected medical administrator who was appointed by Litzman about half a year ago, previously served as a key Clalit Health Services administrator and director-general of Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba. " (JPost)

What could 36 Million dollars do instead of being used to move a hospital's ER? Don't forget that the bones are:

1. probably those of Roman pagans
2. they could be relocated, respectfully, regardless of whom they belonged to.

As commenter (and personal friend) Avrohom Shimon noted:
The Jewish sources (e.g. Mishna, Tosefta, Talmud) state very clearly that when a city must expanded, the graves (Jewish graves of course) are moved away for the need of the living.

For example תוספתא בבא בתרא א' יא' "כל הקברים מתפנים חוץ מקבר המלך וקבר הנביא"; Tosefta Bava Batra A, 11. "All graves can be moved except for those of a king and a prophet."

In the time of the Second Temple, this is what happened and archeology shows that when Jerusalem expanded to the north, the burial caves that were in the area were emptied and transferred to new burial caves outside the city.
Its unfortunate that political askanim (busybodies) distort reality in the way they present their questions to leading rabbis, so that the answer they receive is what they wish to hear.

Our society does not have unlimited resources.

135 Million NIS could be used to saving hundreds, if not thousands of lives, through upgrading medical equipment, providing life-saving drugs, hiring more doctors and staff, upgrading the hospital, etc.

135 Million NIS could go a long way to helping impoverished families.

If I were buried there, and could be told, "your descendants have a choice -- move your grave or you can save their lives through building a modern ER" -- I don't think its even a question what I would choose.

Obviously we opt to save lives.

I'm embarrassed that Israel's government caved into this pressure and is wasting our money instead of transferring the graves.

PS: I heard this morning that in the parking lot where the ER is supposed to be transferred to, there are newly found graves as well.


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15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tafasta meruba lo tafasta.

I think that the cost should be taken from the budget of the "Torato umnato" salaries.

Olah Chadasha said...

Well, if there are more graves in the parking lot, wouldn't they have found them when they were building the parking lot? In any case, maybe the UTJ will now demand that they need to scrap the whole plan for the ER entirely. I mean, what's more important? Pikuach Nefesh for living souls or graves being undisturbed?
-OC

JoeSettler said...

Well, there always is another possibility to consider...

There currently is a ongoing tender for a project at the Ashdod hospital.

As it happens, there are two groups competing for the tender.

One group is the Assouta Hopital (owned by HMO Macabbi). The other is a group comprised of Africa-Israel (60%), and Refua V'Yeshua (40%) an organization owned by run by Gur Hassidim.

The second group wants to also build a medical center at the hospital - and having that included in the Tender would give them a significant advantage in terms of winning it.

Litzman, by the way, is the Knesset representative in UTJ for Gur Hassidim.

Litzman, by the way, has been working to get the tender to include the construction of the medical center at the Ashdod hospital.

The only questions left to ask are: (1) would that medical center compete with the emergency room at Barzilai - either in terms of revenue, or money from the State budget? And (2) are we all sure this is still a religious question?

JoeSettler said...

For some hints about this, read this JPost article from 2 years ago, and then this Ha'aretz (can't trust them though) article from a month ago.

Does it prove a connection? No.
But it looks mighty suspicious.

LeahGG said...

btw, Meridor said what you did about the Gush Katif graves.
Nice to hear it from someone who *should* be speaking out.

Fern Chasida said...

I said to somebody at work today that I don't understand why it was "okay" to move the more more recent graves in Gush Katif but moving ancient non-Jewish graves is an issue. It's a scandal but like most things in Israel, we're used to being browbeaten by the charedim/government so there will be no outcry and life will go on.

Nachum said...

I think you let the rabbis off the hook too easily. They can be stupid and politically motivated as well.

NormanF said...

It descredits the rabbanim when they hold up saving lives instead of moving the graves.

Why should people take them seriously when they waste money so foolishly. Sure, we should take care to respect the dead but there were less costly and more reasonable alternatives available.

Anonymous said...

You missed the point a bit on this one.
This imbroglio presented a terrific lesson in Israeli style "journalism" in exquisite contrast to Israeli reporting of the US.

Last night, on the nightly news, arutz 2 I believe,led with the evil Charedi MK story. They solicited comments from MK's, physicians and men on the street for about 10 minutes.

1) Interestingly, one bright candle said "Just as we need to burn the chametz we need to burn Litzman". Not a word about incitement or insulting a public official

2) Not a second was given to Litzman's camp to respond. Just pure lack of even-handedness. Shockingly, the very next story was about the passing of healthcare in the US. This time however, Obama and Pelosi spoke about how this is the greatest thing since chumus met falafel only to be followed by not one, but two Republican respondents!

3) Obviously no mention of the important point that you made regarding possible European abuse of Jewish cemeteries appeared.

Personally, I think Litzman is incorrect, but the way it was handled in the electronic media in Israel was scandalous and outrageous.

Lion of Zion said...

"If I were buried there, and could be told, "your descendants have a choice -- move your grave or you can save their lives through building a modern ER" -- I don't think its even a question what I would choose."

maybe that's something to add into a will

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

LoZ: Actually, the only place it would make a difference is on a tombstone. Wills disappear over time, while tombstones last alot longer.

(If the people buried in Ashkelon had stated this in their wills, it would be irrelevant now since bones survive while wills do not)

Olah Chadasha said...

I thought I saw on the news last night that Netanyahu has frozen the decision to move the location of the ER.
-OC

Anonymous said...

What if they were talking about the road to the hospital.

Or maybe just a major highway that will save taxpayers millions of dollars.

Where are your red lines?

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Anonymous: Red Lines? Did you read the Tosefta?

The Jewish sources (e.g. Mishna, Tosefta, Talmud) state very clearly that when a city must expanded, the graves (Jewish graves of course) are moved away for the need of the living.

For example תוספתא בבא בתרא א' יא' "כל הקברים מתפנים חוץ מקבר המלך וקבר הנביא"; Tosefta Bava Batra A, 11. "All graves can be moved except for those of a king and a prophet."


Cities need to be expanded all the time. Highways need to be built. All of Eretz Yisrael is pockmarked with graves for thousands of years.

My red line is that of the Tosefta -- the grave of a King or Navi shouldnt be moved.

We're talking about millions of dollars -- I don't understand why you are so generous with public funds.

NormanF said...

Jameel is correct. If it was a halachic issue, why were the UTJ/Litzman silent when the graves of Jews were removed from Gush Katif? Every one agrees the dead should be treated with care and respect. This is done when graves are moved. And moving the graves in Ashkelon, a non-Jewish city in antiquity, shouldn't present any real difficulty. Especially when we talk about the Greco-Roman population that once lived there.

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