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'Kahane? I have a problem with that name'

Family of patient brought to Afula hospital shocked at Arab physician's reluctance to take case because they have same last name as late Kach leader Meir Kahane. Doctor claims remark was 'misunderstood joke'; hospital administration: Statement unacceptable

An Arab physician at Haemek Medical Center in Afula refused to treat a Jewish patient after learning her last name was Kahane, the same last name as the late Kach movement's leader, Ynet learned Thursday.


Rabbi Meir Kahane (1932-1990) was an American-Israeli Orthodox rabbi and a Knesset member. Kahane founded Kach in the early 1980s in Israel. The party's radical right-wing ideology, which called for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Palestinian territories, was labeled racist, and in 1994 was outlawed completely. Kahane was assassinated in Manhattan in 1990.


The doctor was overheard by the patient's daughter as saying, "I hope it's not the same family. I have a problem with that name." The doctor later claimed he was merely joking.


The incident took place last week: Yehudit Kahane, 61, was brought to the hospital by her daughter after suffering chest pains.


Kahane arrived at the emergency room shortly before midnight. "We waited for a long time and eventually I went over to the nurses' station to see what was taking so long," Hilla, Kahane's daughter told Ynet.


"I saw one of the doctors looking at my mother's chart and say 'I hope it's not the same family. I have a problem with that name.' The nurses gave him a surprised look. Another doctor, a Russian, didn’t even know what he was talking about. He looked at her and asked if she'd take over the case for him."


Hilla claims she reassured the doctor that her family "had no connection to 'that' name," to which he replied: "Related, not related – I still have a problem with the name."


"I told him that I had no problem with an Arab doctor taking care of my mother. And that I had never before come across such behavior, let alone from a doctor." At that point, she added, she asked another physician to check her mother out.


The Arab doctor approached her later, she said: "He saw that I was angry and he asked, 'don't you have a sense of humor?' I told him 'if you want to swap jokes we can sit outside and have coffee. You don't do that in an ER in the middle of the night'."


Hilla Kahane filed a complaint with the hospital's administration, where she was told that, "joke or not that kind of statement is unacceptable."


Hospital spokesperson Merav Moyal-Shahar offered the following: "This statement in completely uncharacteristic to Haemek Medical Center, which advocates tolerance and peaceful coexistence.


"The doctor in question apologized for his remark, but nevertheless, the hospital is looking further into the case and the appropriate steps will be taken to ensure such incidents do not reoccur."  


פרסום ראשון: 10.08.09, 14:15
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