ILANA HAMMERMAN: ONE OF THE GREATEST ISRAELIS OF OUR TIME

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,  
Below is an appeal from Ilana Hammeman. As the lives of Palestinians and Israelis on this piece of land are so closely bound and dependent on each other, Ilana’s plea for the life of Saja should be regarded as a cry of a mother for the life of her child. Few background details about Ilana: Ilana Hammerman is one of the greatest Israelis of our time.
As a books editor, writer and translator, Ilana’s contributions to the Israeli culture are numerous and important ones. Ilana is a life-long anti-occupation activist. In recent years she published reports which masterly combined accounts of her close personal relationships with Palestinians with the broad political implications of these relationships.    
Ehud Krinis    

Jerusalem, May 2010

Appeal for aid: 18 year-old Saja, of Husan village in the West Bank, requires a liver-lobe transplant to save her life. Needed: $243,000

Saja’s parents have been found to be suitable donors. Prof. Eitan Mor at the Rabin Medical Center is ready to perform the procedure. The only remaining obstacle is funding.

Saja (see attached photos) will finish high school next month (June 2010) in her home village.  She is an outstanding student who would like to attend university.  It is virtually certain that she will not be able to do this unless she undergoes a liver-lobe transplant, to be followed by a kidney transplant; this is the only possible treatment for her illness.  Without the transplant her body will gradually deteriorate and she will die at an early age (see the attached letter from Prof. Eitan Mor.)

I first got to know Saja’s family, the Hamamrehs, four years ago. The Palestinian construction workers who worked on the apartment building in Jerusalem in which I live come from her village. I had asked them to put me in touch with a woman from their village who could teach me spoken Arabic. In this way I met Rabiha Hamamreh, a mother of six children, one of whom is Saja.

 I had intended to pay for the lessons, but Rabiha refused: she is not a teacher, but a nurse by profession, she told me. She suggested that we get to know each other, and if we became friends, that would be her payment – and also mine, in addition to the Arabic.

The friendship developed, not only between the two of us, but also with her children, husband, grandparents, uncles, aunts and many more family members.  I am radically secular, they are moderate but conservative Muslims: I am a politically active woman, they are nonpolitical, chiefly concerned with making a living and maintaining their family. 

 But, unlike me, each day they have to contend with the harsh effects on their lives of the current political situation in the West Bank: both the Israeli occupation and the divisions and conflicts within the Palestinian people, including corruption and arbitrariness of various authorities on both sides.

These differences between us were the source of infinite curiosity combined with gradually deepening affection, spiced by humor and mutual irony concerning our different customs – from dress, food and daily routines to world-view and beliefs.  To my surprise, I found in this large and generous family an oasis of support and warmth during the years when my own family kept shrinking following a series of tragedies and losses. 

I come to their home almost every week, stretch out on their sofa and enjoy conversing, arguing, laughing, sometimes also crying over my troubles and theirs.  In this way I got to know their way of life, so different from mine – especially that of the women, whom I often, half jokingly, half seriously, encourage to rebel. This friendship has become an integral part of my life, providing comfort and strength. 

 At the same time, I am forced to witness in detail how my own country embitters the lives of these people, how its citizens and authorities rob them of their land and their liberty, humiliate and oppress them in countless ways.

Not only do I see all this, but as a consequence of Saja’s illness, which has gotten worse in the years since I have known her family, I have been forced to witness the additional trials of those inhabitants of the Occupied Territories who suffer from serious illness.  I have come to know about the defective health systems, the consequences of inadequate or nonexistent health insurance, and the difficulties of travel to Israel for medical treatment (not to mention payment for this treatment!).

During all the years in which it has occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the State of Israel did not establish there a medical infrastructure, and now, when parts of these areas are partially autonomous, Israel does not see itself morally or practically responsible for the health of its residents.  On the other hand, the Palestinian Authority creates bureaucratic and financial obstacles to such care, turning serious illness into a virtual death sentence for those without the right connections.

Saja is one of those.  The health insurance she has does not even cover the medicines she currently needs.  By means of some private donations and personal outlay, we’ve reached the only medical institution in Israel which specializes in the liver transplant that Saja needs: the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva (Beilinson Hospital). 

There we found Prof. Eitan Mor, the wonderful person and experienced surgeon who heads the liver transplant unit, and who is ready and willing to operate on Saja so as to save her life.

In Israel, persons who are not Israeli citizens are not entitled to organ transplants from cadavers. Consequently, Saja’s parents, Rabiha and Mohammad Hamamreh, have decided that they will donate the necessary organs.  They have been examined at the transplant unit and found to be suitable potential donors. 

 Ever since, Mohammad has been trying to get assistance from the Palestinian Authority, which has, from the beginning, rejected his pleas.  Therefore, we have decided to make a public appeal: Saja’s parents appeal to their own people, and I turn, in my name and theirs, to you.

The cost of the transplant amounts to approximately US$243,000 (900,000 Israeli shekels).

If 900 people will donate 1000 shekels each, if 1,800 people donate 500 shekels each – Saja will soon be operated on by Prof. Mor, who has already saved several Israelis who suffered from this life-threatening illness.  Please give what you can, and pass on this appeal to others.

                                                                                    Thank you,

                                                                                    Ilana Hammerman

                                                                                    Writer, translator, editor

Please send donations to:                        

Bank Hapoalim (Bank code: 12)

Branch: Beit Hakerem, Jerusalem (Branch code: 694)

Account number: 335428

IBAN: IL52-0126-9400-0000-0335428

Owner of account: Dr. Ilana Hammerman. Donations for Saja Hamamreh

My email address is:  ilana.hammerman@gmail.com

Attached please find:

1)     Statement by Prof. Eitan Mor

2)      Photograph of Saja

 

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