Gratitude. “Do no harm: How a Gazan baby”s life became tangled in politics,” by Graeme Hamilton in the National Post, May 16 (thanks to Michael):
MONTREAL “” Raz Somech, director of immunology at Israel’s largest pediatric hospital, is trained to save children’s lives. But in the Middle East, even a heroic struggle to keep a baby alive can become entangled in the region’s politics.
The documentary Precious Life has turned the unassuming Dr. Somech into a celebrity with its portrayal of his effort to save a Palestinian baby born without an immune system. On Monday night he will be the star attraction at a screening of the film in Montreal as part of the Israel Film Festival.
His unexpected fame began with an action that to him was simply his duty as a physician. A sickly four-month-old Mohammed Abu Mustafa had arrived at the emergency room from Gaza. “It was very easy to diagnose him as having a severe type of immunodeficiency,” Dr. Somech said in an interview. The same genetic condition had already claimed the lives of two of Mohammed’s sisters, and without a costly bone marrow transplant, it was unlikely he would survive beyond his first birthday.
[…] And even after the funding has been secured and the transplant performed, Mohammed’s mother, Raida, makes a statement that calls into question all the efforts to save his life.
As she and the filmmaker, Israeli TV reporter Shlomi Eldar, discuss the status of Jerusalem, Raida says she would be proud to see her son grow up to be a suicide bomber. “Even the smallest infant, younger than Mohammed, to the oldest person, we”ll all sacrifice ourselves for Jerusalem,” she says. Asked by a dumbfounded Mr. Eldar whether she would let Mohammed become a shahid, or martyr, if he recovers, she replies, “Absolutely. If it’s for the sake of Jerusalem, I would.” Life, she says, is not precious. […]
The film shows that Raida is a shrewd woman, and she later retracts her statement about wishing her son to become a martyr. There is a sickness in the region’s politics that no hospital can cure, as seen when Raida describes the suspicion she has fallen under back home for allowing her son to be treated in Israel. “Go to the Jews to get help for your son if you think they”re better than Arabs,” reads one message to her posted on the Internet.
Dr. Somech, 45, is convinced that Raida’s comments about Mohammed becoming a martyr were aimed at deflecting such criticism from Palestinians who saw her effort to save her child as traitorous. The film recently aired on an Israeli television station that broadcasts in Gaza, and Dr. Somech was nervous about how it would be received by the family”s neighbours. “We spoke immediately after, and they said they are very proud of the film, and in all the neighbourhood they became stars,” he said. “We could say that by saying what Raida said about her son [growing up] to be shahid, she bought life insurance for herself.”…
That’s bad enough in itself.