Helping Dalal Rusrus

[Addition 8:40pm May 29: Gershom Gorenberg writes that he just received word from a military spokesman that the permit has been granted. It was the right decision, made more likely by good people paying attention.]

One joy made possible by the internet is the relationship you can form with a distant friend or colleagues you may never actually meet in person. I feel that way about Gershom Gorenberg, the great Israeli journalist and impresario of His book Accidental Empire is terrific, as is so much of his other work.

Gershom and others are helping a young Palestinian girl named Dalal Rusrus, who requires sophisticated medical care available in Israel for a serious brain disorder. After an active campaign to help her gain access to Jerusalem, she was hospitalized for two weeks at Alyn Hospital. She needs to come back for follow-up care tomorrow May 30. Unfortunately, Israeli authorities have turned down her parents’ requests to enter Jerusalem to bring her to the hospital.

I just emailed the Israeli Defense Force spokesman Lt.-Col. Avital Leibovitz (Foreign Press Branch) and Capt. Amir Koren of the Civil Administration requesting that they reconsider or revisit this issue so that this family can access the care Dalal needs.

Helping one disabled child will not address the huge differences between Palestinians and Israelis. This is still critical for one family. It is also critical in a larger way. It illustrates one way that good people on each side can demonstrate good-will and empathy, and more than that, to extend important practical help, to others across the occupation line. In my view, these human connections are quite essential.

When I get discouraged by negative events such as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Washington speech or the spate of hateful statements by Hamas spokesmen*, I take heart that there are good people on the scene, sending a very different and more humane message from both sides of the line in a very difficult time.

You can find more information on her story here, here, here and here:

Here are the identification card numbers of those affected.
Osama Rusrus 909512386
Sunya Rusrus 903627057
Dalal Rusrus 420037004

* Update I certainly do not regard Netanyahu’s statements as morally equivalent to Hamas’s hate-filled rhetoric. I do believe Netanyahu’s rhetoric and actions on the ground are not what I would like to see from the elected leader of a democratic Jewish state.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect,, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.

6 thoughts on “Helping Dalal Rusrus”

  1. I hear the underlying message.

    I can even understand feeling down about the current chances for peace. I can even understand thinking that Netanyahu bears some responsibility for that (I disagree but I get the argument).

    Can we however stop the bizarre ritual of equating something a democratically elected politician says in front of the US Congress with positive reception to something that some whackjob whose mentation seems stuck in the 12th century says?

  2. I agree these are not morally equivalent. I will update the post to make this clearer.

  3. Larry, what’s “bizarre” is asking for deference to Israel when they are preventing a young girl from getting a life-saving medical procedure done simply because she is Palestinian.

  4. re: the idea of equivalency

    This seems an old problem in the debate. I think serious people can assume that we can both hold the two sides to the same standard, but recognize that there are different realities. Israel has a functioning democracy, and as such a degree of political representation and legitimacy that Palestine, a fragmented, broken and undemocratic “state”, does not. We hold Israeli government officials to a “higher” standard because they have earned it; just as have those of any other functioning democracy. We don’t lower this standard just because Palestinian officials are more dysfunctional. It is not OK for Israeli tanks to bulldoze apartments just because Palestinian leaders cry death to Israel.

    I’m reminded of those who would forgive American torture by arguing that “our enemies do it”. This is a type of moral relativism that threatens to bring us all down into the gutter. No, Israel has a lot to stand for. It would be disrespectful of us to to allow them any less.

  5. larry, I agree that Netanyahu’s statements and those of Hamas are not equivalent; but I’m wondering what makes Netanyahu “democratically elected” and not Hamas, given that Hamas won the last election for the parliment of the nascent Palestinian state. I’m pretty sure that percentage of Palestine votes who voted for Hamas is higher than than the percentage of Israeli voters who voted for Likud.

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