Just Because We Let Her Be Treated Last Time, You Want to Come Again? …Well, OK

Gershom Gorenberg

Dalal Rusrus
Dalal Rusrus

A few months ago, when Dalal Rusrus completed her two weeks of treatment at Alyn Hospital in Jerusalem and her parents were told to bring her back on May 30 for a follow-up visit, I had two opposite premonitions.

Logic said that after the weeks of wrangling with the Civil Administration in the West Bank to get her parents permits to enter Israel, after the diplomatic and journalistic and public pressure to let one small Palestinian girl get treatment for CP in an Israeli hospital whose staff was eager to help her – logic said that someone would write down in her parents’ files in the Civil Administration or the organization of the nameless that these people had a valid reason to get a permit, and next time they’d get it straight away. And a second kind of logic, the logic of Looking Glass Land, said they’d start from scratch and get turned down again.

So early yesterday afternoon, Dalal’s father Osama called and said he’d been at the DCO, the liaison office, in Hebron, and he was told that neither he nor his wife could have a permit. Just like the time before, and the time before that.

So it was time to start making calls, and sending emails and text messages – to military spokespeople and assistants of generals, to B’Tselem’s human-rights activists, to the foreign aid agency’s local staffer with his awesome connections, to lists of journalists giving them numbers to call to ask exactly why these people were getting blocked again.

The details are too many. Let it be said that after someone from the Foreign Press Desk of the IDF Spokesperson’s Office reminded the spokesman of the Civil Administration to call me back, after other people somewhere out there were already sending emails and posting blog entries and calling whoever they called, after the Civil Administration’s flack did get back to me and said, “We’re working on it,” at 10:20 at night he called again to say that the approval had come through. Which is to say: Sunlight is not only the best disinfectant, it is the best stimulant for lethargic bureaucracies of petty humiliation. Public attention works. And who knows, this time maybe the nameless people will write down in their files that the Rusruses should be given permits without hassle for their next appointment. It only took Osama and Dalal an hour to get through the checkpoint between Bethlehem and Jerusalem this morning.

To all who have helped, thank you again.


3 thoughts on “Just Because We Let Her Be Treated Last Time, You Want to Come Again? …Well, OK”

  1. This is a terrible human tragedy.

    Thank you Gershom for sharing this with us.

    I know you have explained this in the past, but please remind us what we can do to help.



  2. Thanks Bruce. At the moment, there isn’t a lot to be done to help. Donors have provided enough cash – partly through Kehilat Yedidya’s Project Dalal – to pay for current care. I won’t be the least embarrassed about asking for more donations when needed.
    The next time help is likely to be needed is the next time Dalal has to come back to Jerusalem for treatment. And at that time, phone calls and emails to relevant officials will help.

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