1 Fun Thing; 1 Serious Thing

Hmm.  What happened this week?

Star-Wars-Force-Awakens-Poster-640x480

If you don’t know what this is, then I don’t even know where to begin.

Star Wars!

No, I didn’t go to the premiere in Israel, though I read a great review about it. It was a pretty big deal here.  And I have to say that I’m glad people went out and made a fuss.  Terrible things continue to occur in the streets, but come hell or high water, nothing stops Star Wars.  (It did actually rain a lot recently, so the high water remark was not just a throw-away line.)

The great thing about being in Israel for the premiere is that we saw it before you all did! (Neener, neener, neener!)

I will see it, but I may wait a while because the idea of a hugely crowded theater kind of turns me off.  On the other hand, Star Wars.  No spoilers please!

And now for something completely serious.

There are a number of debates in Israel right now about many things, but one that bothers me, and one that I don’t have an answer to, is the directive issued by the Israeli Medical Association.  They said that the wounded in a terror attack should be treated in order of severity, no matter who they are.  What this means in practice is that if an attacker has more severe wounds than a victim, the attacker will be treated first.

A volunteer emergency services organization, ZAKA, has refused to comply.  They said that they will treat Jewish victims of the attack first.  Their rationale is based in Jewish teachings: “He who is merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful.”

One of the incidents that caused the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) to make this ruling was an attack in Beer Sheva where an Eritrean ran away from the scene and everyone in the area thought he was the attacker.  So he was beaten and kicked by the bystanders and eventually died from his wounds, in part because he was ignored by the medical services personnel.

On one hand, I can see the humanity of using triage to rank all the wounds of all the people.  Who really knows with absolute certainty in the middle of chaos who the attacker was?  On the other hand, is one horrible situation the measure to use for making the rule?  How do you explain to the family of a victim of an attack that you treated the attacker first?  What if the victim is permanently disfigured or perhaps even dies while the attacker survives because of the triage decision you were forced to make?

Attackers are treated in Israeli hospitals by Israeli doctors and stay in rooms probably down the hall from their victims.  The news reports of the case in October of the 13-year-old stabber showed him in Hadassah Hospital.  In the same hospital, his victim was put in a medically induced coma and miraculously woke up (*he celebrated his bar mitzvah this week and claims to be 95% better).

I heard an interesting/troubling comment after the IMA announcement was made.  Security services may feel that they shouldn’t shoot to stop an attacker, but actually shoot to kill so that the attacker will not take a victim’s place in triage.  I’m not sure that is the intent of the ruling, but it could be a consequence.

I was also troubled by the phrasing of the ZAKA response.  I hope that they meant all victims of an attack, not just the Jewish ones.  I hope that they wouldn’t set aside an injured victim who was a Druze, Bedouin, Christian Arab, or Muslim Arab simply based on the fact that he or she isn’t Jewish.

In the middle of chaos, emergency services need to know what to do, so they need some kind of directive.  But which one is “just”?  Which one is more “humane”?  There are no simple, easy answers here and we find ourselves in the gray area yet again.

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And that will do it for this week!

To those of you who are going to see Star Wars, DON’T TELL ME ANYTHING!  Thumbs up or thumbs down would be okay though.

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