Herzog is unfit even to be dog-catcher

Well, well, well. Buji Herzog has now been elected as leader of the Labor Party, which makes him leader of the opposition.

Woe be unto Israel if this man becomes prime minister of Israel.

He lacks four attributes which would qualify him for the job: a spine, a brain, a heart, and guts.

In my opinion Herzog is not even fit to be elected dog-catcher out of concern for the welfare of the dogs.

My opinion is based on personal experience.

Here is my story. You be the judge.

I’m 72 now and live on small pensions and lately whatever I can pick up from my books. My son, in his mid-20s, lives with me.

In 2009 he was doing well. He was security manager of a large shopping centre, had qualified for a course to learn to be a commercial pilot and had started lessons.

We live in the north. The flight school is the middle of the country.

On this night a pilot offered to drive him to his lesson. On the way a car in front of them stopped on the highway without warning. There was no way to avoid a crash. My son had literally seconds to react. He managed to jump out in the nick of time smacking down on the road.

The two women in the car ahead were killed instantly. The pilot got only part-way out and would die in hospital a few days later. My son picked himself off the highway, said I feel fine, grabbed a taxi, and went up to fly a plane.

Three weeks later he began to pee blood. Thus began a nightmare that lasted for more than three years.

In the next 15 months he would be treated or examined at seven hospitals and approximately 20 doctors until a genius at the end finally figured out what to do.

What had happened was that my son had suffered internal injury in the accident but it took a year before the doctors discovered this. Meanwhile he had symptoms all over the map and in their compartmentalized manner the doctors were treating him one symptom at a time when meanwhile his entire system was disintegrating due to infections.

The doctors didn’t make the connection to the accident and went at him like the proverbial group of wise men who were sent into a dark room to identify an elephant and everyone came up with a different story.

My son received one paycheque and got nothing else from his company which filed for bankruptcy three months later. All the large package of compensations he had earned went down the drain.

My son had good days and bad days and got two fabulous managerial job offers. He decided to take one, lasted four days, and the blood started flowing again, worse than ever, so he had to stop.

Under the law unemployment insurance is automatic for someone who worked for a bankrupt company. He also qualified by time worked. He applied for it to the National Insurance.

Months went by and then he was notified by a message by the National Insurance that he did not qualify for welfare because in the opinion of their medical people he was healthy. How their medical people could come to this conclusion is a mystery; they never examined him. They never even talked to him. Welfare is what you get if you don’t qualify for unemployment insurance, which is worth a lot less. They were handling his application as one for welfare, ignoring his work record.

At about the same time that the National Insurance had declared my son to be healthy enough to work he had gone to see his girl friend in another part of the country, collapsed as soon as he got there, and spent three days in hospital getting emergency treatment.

The National Insurance does have on paper an appeal process through the courts. But if the appellant happens to be prostrate on his bed sick and weak, he cannot even think of undertaking a legal challenge. Besides there are few lawyers who will represent an indigent against the mighty battery of attorneys the National Insurance can muster, all expert in the arcane law of their enterprise. Finding a lawyer is like looking for a needle in a haystack in any event.

I managed to stay afloat for one year. Then the wheels came off. We ran out of money, even for basics, food and rent. I saved what I had for his medicines and the trips for treatment, the locations of which were all over the country.

The greatest threat was the possibility of eviction from our flat. I happened to have been homeless for two years back in the 90s after my divorce. I know what it takes to survive under those conditions. I also knew that in his state of health for my son to be put on the street would have been a swift death sentence.

We do have a welfare department, so called, in our town. They jerked me around for weeks. I went to see the mayor. He was very sympathetic and sent me to see the head of the department. She listened to me and then responded, “We don’t have money for things like this.”

Herzog was the minister responsible for the National Insurance. With my son’s life hanging in the balance on two fronts — his health was deteriorating and without money we were heading for the street where he could not have survived — I decided to write Herzog.

I figured Herzog could cut through the red tape, pick up the phone and ask one simple question: how can National Insurance doctors declare someone to be healthy without examining him? And knowing that, Herzog could order them to do a medical examination so that my son could get his unemployment insurance. If doctors of a private insurance company acted in this manner they would lose their license or as in the case of the doctor who treated Michael Jackson, be sent to jail.

How did Herzog react? He had a lawyer send me a letter. She did not address the central question: the lack of a medical examination. Instead she listed five reasons why my son had been denied benefits. Three were outright lies; never happened, pure fabrications. On the fourth they got me. He had failed to submit a rental lease.

We didn’t have a written rental lease and when I had dealings with other government departments in the past they said a simple letter signed also by the landlady would be sufficient. That’s what I had submitted in this case as well. No one at the time had said a letter was not acceptable; I could have arranged a written lease in about 10 minutes flat.

What this meant on the ground was that the government was prepared to execute my son for not producing a written rental lease. How many other countries do that besides Israel? North Korea?

The fifth reason was a nonsensical red hearing. He did not apply for disability, she said. He applied for unemployment insurance to which he was entitled and the doctors who had examined him extensively at two hospitals by that time authorized that he was sick. No one even suggested disability. If you can’t get benefits you are entitled to, how are you going to get benefits you may not be entitled to?

I am from Canada and something like this is unlikely to have happened there because we have representative government. You vote in your district in both provincial and federal elections for representatives of your area. In an emergency situation like ours you are sure to find one of them who will go to bat for you.

Israel has a delegate system. The members of Knesset are delegates of their parties. They have no connection with the people in the districts from which they came. Unless you happen to know someone, you have no one to turn to. Your only hope is to go to the minister, which is what I did.

There’s your Herzog. I realize as a minister he must have gotten many requests for help all the time. But that’s his job, to sift through them, and act on those where he can correct an injustice, and in our case, save a life. But he is what is known as a timeserver, a guy, who in his case was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, just slides through life, trying to look good but entirely lacking in character.

To complete this story. The problem with the medical treatment was that was no quarterback. And it was up to you to go on the Internet and like a game of pin the tail on the donkey choose your doctor blindfolded from the list posted by your health company.

At about 10 months the GP stopped co-operating; telling my son that it all was probably psychosomatic, essentially that he was nuts. We didn’t stop there. An internal specialist picked up the first clue as to what was happening: there was almost no Vitamin D in his system.

At that point we got lucky. The neurologist, who was also a psychiatrist that I sent my son to in order to examine both the issue of splitting headaches and the psychosomatic allegation, took command. He found that his body has ceased absorbing all nutrients in an orderly manner. He called that GP and blasted him and then called the manager of the clinic and blasted her for taking so long, that this was a serious situation. He said to my son that he needed to see a gastroenterologist.

We got an appointment with the most highly recommended in our area but it would be six weeks down the line. The neurologist called the gastroenterologist before the appointment.

In ancient Greece Diogenes looked for an honest man and never found him. This gastroenterologist happened to be an honest man. When my son arrived, he told him, this case is over my head. Here is the name of the doctor you need.

We had gone to private doctors along the way but we couldn’t do that any more. My son said we can’t afford a private doctor. No, said this gastroenterologist, this doctor takes patients from your health company.

Without being told about this doctor we would never have found him. The health company did not publicize his name on the Internet on its lists. The reason soon became clear. He worked out of an expensive hospital. Every time I went to the clinic to get approval for visits to this hospital, they would tell me, you can’t go there. Yes I can, I replied, the guy is on your list.

This is the genius who got my son well in three months. He happened to be a Druze, which led some friends to ask: “How many Jewish doctors does it take to change a light bulb?” This is unfair in a way because several did good work but the system is horrendous.

The story doesn’t end there. My son could return to work but he still needed to undergo an expensive rehabilitation regimen to repair the damage to his body. Meanwhile I hadn’t paid a lot of bills during the time he was ill and we had to deal with massive debts with the courts repeatedly threatening to put my son in prison should he miss one payment. That could have crippled him for life too since he had to be on a special diet. The debts are the fault of Herzog and the department he was supposed to be managing. Ministerial responsibility is what they call this in Canada. Herzog knew all the facts and turned his back. If we had received my son’s unemployment insurance or even welfare we could have sailed through the illness with few financial problems.

As it turned out the only people who helped us through the hard times, besides Habad and a neighborhood group which supplied food, were from the black market where I got the money to keep one step ahead of the jailers.

I’ve lived long enough to know that there are hard times and good times and you have to take them all in the same stride. Adversary can make you or break you; go for the upside. I told my son that what he gained from this was that everything else in his life from now on is going to seem easy.
























About the Author
Dov Ivry is from the Maritimes in Canada, born in Nova Scotia, raised in New Brunswick. He worked as a journalist there for 20 years with a one-year stop at the Gazette in Montreal. He's been hanging out in Israel for 36 years, doing this and that, and managed to produce 66 books.