'Starving mother' in court
Photo: AP
Haredi riots in capital
Photo: AP

Persecuting the haredim

‘Starving mother’ case part of campaign of persecution against Orthodox

Anyone looking for reinforcements to the claim that Israel is home to an anti-haredi campaign of persecution got what they were looking for, big time, with the story of the mother who allegedly starved her son.


Once the story broke out, I was approached by many media outlets requesting a response, yet in the first few hours I found it difficult to elicit accurate information about the affair, even though I knew about the mother’s arrest since the beginning of the week. When the pressure grew from more and more media outlets, I found it difficult to defend the riots, but I was careful not to condemn them either. I felt that the shattered mother and her pained home are an interest that is no less important than the public relations of the entire Orthodox community.


Slowly I discovered a picture taken from dark worlds that raised incisive questions vis-à-vis most government authorities involved in the affair. In this framework I will not deal with the innocence of the miserable mother, but even if it is proven that she suffers from the Munchausen Syndrome, the question that emerges is why did media outlets choose to present a sick person as a criminal?


Those familiar with the syndrome stress that it is an obsessive desire to help someone under one’s care to the point of jeopardizing him, so that both the caretaker and person under care receive attention. Notably, in most cases we see the caretaker focus on one person, so that there is no risk to the other children, and the detained woman is indeed known as a model mother to her four other children. That is, we are not dealing with a ticking bomb or with a violent woman holding a submachine gun and firing in all directions.


In fact, we are dealing with someone who may be “dangerous” to a specific person, and therefore logic dictates that we remove the danger. It is therefore natural to limit the mother’s access to her son’s hospital bed. Here too we see a difficult question emerging – how did the Hadassah hospital allow such “danger” to access the sensitive oncological ward in the past six months?


Welfare services blamed

I must admit that the voices emerging from the ultra-Orthodox camp point the finger at Jerusalem’s welfare services over their involvement in the affair. In conversations with elements within the haredi camp I discovered that they believe we are seeing a false arrest that is completely needless; they say it will ruin a longtime effort by the regional welfare office, which along with the rabbis managed to create trust vis-à-vis the communities residing in the Mea Shearim area. A very senior welfare official told me that to his regret, the latest developments will take us back 20 years.


The corridors of medical institutions in Israel are filled with haredi community members who are regularly invited to assist the general population, but suddenly they are being looked down upon? Why weren’t they approached to handle the problem?


Yet the most terrible damage caused in the wake of this miserable arrest is that it will prompt many Orthodox mothers to refrain from heading to hospital in times of emergency. They will prefer to have their child treated by a haredi paramedic, instead of going to a medical facility accompanied by two lawyers.


In a touching conversation held by Police Commander Aharon Franco with the elders and dignitaries of the Orthodox Eda Haredit sect, he too expressed his puzzlement over the arrest, based on his familiarity with the circumstances. However, all of this did not prevent the Prosecutor’s Office from initially objecting to the mother’s release. So you still claim there is no anti-haredi persecution in Israel?


פרסום ראשון: 07.19.09, 18:04
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