Zelda Harris
Five on the 100 aliyah from UK list!

Fight for your life

Fight for your life that’s what the Ministry of Transport slogan says in hebrew. The slogan itself explains it all. Why should we the ordinary citizens have to ‘fight’  why can we not feel safe on the roads?.

Is road travel a war?

Only a Minister who is incompetent could dream up a slogan like that. Had I still been “in the business” of saving lives and preventing serious injuries on our roads I would have made a public protest! Sadly I am not and it seems that the Israeli public has been brainwashed to the point that they consider everything as a war, a battle but not an indisputable right in an organized society.

Unfortunately, there is only one organisation in Israel which has remained an active and independent lobby, Anashim b’Adom. The advent of Or Yarok(green light)  effectively put everyone out of business.A  sleek and well-funded organisation whose intention was more educational, than banner raising or lobbying. It has done excellent work around schools and maybe amongst young drivers but it is not a lobby for change, public recognition or support.It has not succeeded in improving ‘Life on our roads’

Also, the question of road carnage that is deaths, is not really discussed anymore. Road injuries are not even mentioned.The fact that a person did not die in an accident and is left seriously injured often for the remainder of his or her life is not an issue of ‘public interest’.Who even knows how many of the NECHIM-disabled who have been protesting for months at the paucity of their National Insurance allowance, are victims of irresponsible even criminal behaviour on our roads?

Anashim B’Adom remain active because many of their members and supporters, are families of those aforementioned victims and as such feel obligated to keep the issue alive so that others will not suffer as they have. They are dedicated and committed human beings and worthy of the Israel Prize.

Metuna was the organisation that I together with Ivan Pope ran for 15 years. We were blessed with an outstanding voluntary advisory body who without any economic reward guided and instructed us on the Scientific,Medical, Academic and Psychological level. We also dealt with the families who came to us for consolation and help. Whether to get a memorial erected in their town in memory of a loved one or guidance about legal help and much more.  There were many who broke our hearts. I could write about situations which would shock and arouse your sentiments and why we received the Knesset Prize for Quality of Life ‘For saving lives on the roads’

Today I feel obliged to tell one story:

‘My name is Raz Rothman, 24, Yokneam.

At the age of eight and a half, I was badly injured in a car accident that killed my older sister Eden, of blessed memory.

Following the injury I remained on a respirator, paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair.

Despite the difficult conditions and against all odds, I completed 12 years of school with honors with a full matriculation certificate, even though I’m exempt from military service due to my health condition.  I volunteered for two years National Service Association “LTM- nature accessible to everyone,” a tour guide for the branch ‘Justice and Peace Valley Farm’.

Throughout my life, I have been in many volunteer organisations.Firstly from age 13 with Metuna-Kol Hayeladim Project, Associates “Road Safety” Equality Forum Burden ” Hot House Association children of the SMA. “

Also, I have been lecturing all over the country on a variety of topics such as acceptance of the other, accessibility and road safety – everything from around the world and my life story.

Since age 13, I get around in the same motorized wheelchair, which most of the parts were refurbished and/or replaced over the years, and unfortunately, this old and shabby chair does not fit my needs today.

The hours sitting in a wheelchair not adapted to my growing body, causes many difficulties and risks, such as fear of bedsores, disturbing discomfort,  also all seating has become more complex and cumbersome. 

Hence, according to the recommendations of our health care team, the only solution is to buy a new chair with modifications suiting my limitations, My body size, present needs and mobility to get to my studies too.

The cost of a new motorized wheelchair, with hardware, seating adjustment mechanisms and all functions for me to live, is many thousands of shekels

I do not get any help from the Ministry of Health or other body and no family can afford such a heavy economic burden.

Socio-economic situation and the economic income of the family have been hit hard since the accident and my monthly treatment costs are excessive.

My father Moshe, was dismissed from his work because he had to take care of and accompany me 24/7, as well as two foreign workers.  All the economic burden of supporting the family was placed on the shoulders of my mother Esther.’

We met Raz when he was eleven years old. At 13 we held a Barmitzvah party in the Metuna office in Netanya. My son’s synagogue SAMS in England held a matching celebration there to raise funds for the Kol Hayeladim project, which Raz headed. He created a road safety project at the school he attended and he was honoured with us, at the President’s Residence on Road Safety Day.

He and his family are exemplary members of Israeli Society accepting challenges that were not only painful and traumatic but also demanding of attention 24/7  for the rest of their lives.

The statistics from the CBS for the first three months of this year are 78 killed on the roads, 404 ‘seriously injured’. If losing a limb can be called a medium injury then think of the enormity of these figures and the stress and strain on those involved, not less the cost to the economy. Not for a week or two, but for the rest of their lives.

Raz is a hero and so are his parents and brothers. They have never recovered from their daughter and sister’s death but their sons are achievers and prove that life goes on.

The establishment needs to do more.

A video made by Raz is available. Please contact me or Raz Rutman site on Facebook if you want to help.

About the Author
Zelda Harris first came to Israel 1949, aged 18. After living through the hardships of the nascent state, she returned to England in 1966. She was a founding member of the Women's Campaign for Soviet Jewry. In 1978, she returned with her family to Israel and has been active in various spheres of Israeli Society since. Together with the late Chaim Herzog, she founded CCC for Electoral Reform, was the Director of BIPAC in Israel, and a co-founder of Metuna, the Organisation for Road Safety, which received the Speaker of Knesset Quality of Life Award for saving lives on the roads and prevention of serious injury. She is now a peace activist, blogger for Times of Israel and is writing her life story.
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