PHR-Israel: Health and Human Rights News

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel
Weekly Report

	The experience of childhood in Israeli society is not uniform.  On
the surface, one sees the youth of a modern industrialized country.
New styles of clothing are displayed in the streets, popular music
pours out of dance clubs and apartment windows, and pelaphones, even
in the hands of ten and eleven year olds, abound.  However, beneath
the surface are many other realities and in most cases these other
versions of the Israeli childhood are far from pleasant.

	PHR-Israel, a leading medical human rights organization, chooses to
address this other norm: the medical neglect of Palestinian children
and the children of foreign workers.  Over the years, PHR-Israel has
created two funds to serve these children.  The Palestinian
Children's Medical Care Fund functions as an emergency relief for
children living in the West Bank and Gaza.  Children there do not
receive services neither from the Palestinian Authority, nor from the
Israeli government and thus often suffer from medical neglect.  The
second, The Children of Foreign Workers medical fund, operates to
advance the services offered in PHR's foreign workers clinic located
in South Tel-Aviv, as well as to secure treatment for children who
need more advanced medical attention. 	

Last Tuesday, November 2,
PHR-Israel hosted a benefit recital with performers Varda
Kotler-Soprano, Nicolas Dicloux-Pianist and Rami Tal-Flutist to raise
funds for the health care needs of these children.  The event,
attended by people from a variety of sectors in society including the
Mayor of Tel-Aviv Ron Huldai, was extremely successful.  In his
speech, Huldai spoke about the need for public awareness on the issue
of distribution of health care and professed a desire for change.  He
stated that the Israeli public must not allow political conflicts to
get in the way of care for the children.  Their right to health care
must be protected and any violation of this must be corrected.  He
emphasized the need for public awareness and community involvement to
induce change.  His inspiring message will hopefully gain momentum as
PHR continues its work both in caring for these children and in
educating the public at large.
Future Work 	
PHR plays an active role in the field of human rights through 
education and intervention. Torture, one of the issues most in need 
of human rights attention in Israeli society, is a policy which PHR 
actively works against. On November 26th, 1999, PHR-Israel is 
participating in a conference sponsored by the Medical Fund and the 
Torture and Rehabilitation Center in Ramallah that will focus on the 
issue of torture in Israel.

	Israeli policy towards torture, (although delegitimized by the
Supreme Court's recent decision) is in need of revision.  The Israeli
government allows for the torture of prisoners and Israeli doctors
are at times involved in this immoral act.  	

The implications for a society that allows torture are severe.  The 
use of violence as a weapon to combat violence is contradictory.  To 
humiliate, abuse, and victimize the prisoner is a denial of basic 
human rights.  A society that allows this kind of behavior teaches 
its children that violence is an acceptable means of solving 
problems.  Those who turn a blind eye to torture condone passivity 
and those who participate perpetuate evil.  Maintaining a policy of 
torture breeds a belief in the need for violence, fosters a numbing 
of the senses, and weakens a sense of collective morality. 	The 
upcoming conference on torture will address the issue form a variety 
of different perspectives through presentations offered by 
individuals knowledgeable in the field. Discussions and debate should 
be continued after the conference to further education. Torture must 
not be allowed in any society, let alone one which considers itself 
to be as advanced as Israel. 

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