Hebrew media review

The kids aren’t alright

The woes facing children, from bad daycare teachers to a dispute in a pediatric cancer ward, paint a picture of a Jewish state where the young are under the gun

Joshua Davidovich is The Times of Israel's Deputy Editor

An illustrative photo of a boy riding his bike past a mural about the importance of Torah in Beitar Ilit. (Nati Shohat /Flash90)
An illustrative photo of a boy riding his bike past a mural about the importance of Torah in Beitar Ilit. (Nati Shohat /Flash90)

Forget about Iran gaining a foothold in Syria, Hamas digging tunnels and anti-Semites (and mother nature) vandalizing Jewish cemeteries. One need look no further than a local kindergarten, welfare office or hospital to find that all is not okay in the Jewish state.

At least that’s the message broadcast from the Hebrew press Monday morning, where internal woes supersede outside threats on the front pages. These include a sharp drop in instances in which a state body decides to pass along complaints of violence against children to police (Haaretz), the entire top team of a Jerusalem pediatric cancer ward quitting over a dispute with management (Israel Hayom) and an investigation into daycare teachers abusing children, which Yedioth Ahronoth previews ahead of its full weekend expose.

“The caretakers beat the babies and yell at them,” the front page of tabloid screams, with a quote from one caretaker ratting on her sisters in diaper-changing. The story, which the paper plays up as a followup to its expose on abuse in old-age homes, “paints a terrifying picture,” according to the report.

“Curses, screams, humiliation, endemic violence, safety issues and hiring practices that allow pretty much anyone to watch our kids,” the story reads. “All of this has turned into an inseparable part of the reality in daycares, and it’s all possible thanks to lack of oversight by various bodies.”

A large story in Haaretz also shows that things are far from tickety-boo for kids in Israel, backing up Yedioth’s anecdotal evidence with hard numbers, not in kindergartens, but in the home.

The paper’s story focuses on the fact that many reports of violence against children are not being passed along to police, but rather being dealt with in-house by welfare authorities. According to the numbers, in 2015, there were 1,669 cases sent to a panel to decide whether or not to pass along complaints, of which 1,552 cases were not reported to police. In comparison, in 2010 the panel saw 1,054 cases, and passed along about a third of them to police.

As if things aren’t bad enough for kids, Israel Hayom’s lead story deals with children suffering from leukemia, lymphoma and other serious blood cancers and ailments being abandoned by their doctors, after the top six physicians of Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center’s pediatric hemo-ontological unit resigned en masse Sunday.

The tabloid calls the move “a dramatic development … that raises fears for 30 children being treated in the unit and their families.”
The families aren’t mad at the doctors but rather at Health Minister Yaakov Litzman, who is refusing to allow the doctors to set up a new unit at the capital’s Shaare Zedek hospital.

“This is a black day for the hospital,” one parent is quoted saying. “A messenger from heaven who saved lives of hundreds of kids over decades is leaving the place that was for him more than a home, and all because of cheap politics by the health minister and the director of the Hadassah Medical Center.”

Haaretz’s lead story tackles the rising yeshiva state, with more money going to the Orthodox institutions than ever, and more yeshiva students able to live high on the public hog without even looking for a job.

The story counts a sharp 15% jump in yeshiva students since the current government took shape, citing Education Ministry figures and attributing the rise to a rollback of several measures that had sought to push the ultra-Orthodox into the workforce.

“Doubling state support for yeshiva students, alongside canceling the criterion of male employment in eligibility for subsidized daycare, have made it less worthwhile to go to work,” the paper quotes researcher Gilad Malach of the Israel Democracy Institute.

While the men are off tackling holy texts, many women in the ultra-Orthodox community are tasked with bringing home the fake bacon.

In the secular world, though, while many women work, they don’t necessarily get treated as well as their male counterparts. That’s part of the focus of an early International Women’s Day edition in Yedioth, which has women reporting on issues important to women.

A graphic run by the paper shows that women lag behind men in nearly every field, from running companies (6,900 women to 38,800 men) to serving as ministers (4 women to 19 men) to being mayors (6 women to 250 men) to being played on Army Radio’s annual hit parade (12 percent women to 88% men).

On that last measure singer Sarit Hadad has skin in the game, but she tackles the whole gamut in a column, saying she is proof that women can reach any height.

“At first I was surprised when I heard from women that I was an example and a symbol. It’s so unfortunate that 51 percent of the population aren’t given their due space in any part of our lives. When Sarit of today speaks to Sarit of the start of my career, I can understand that perhaps my biggest contribution to my sister ladies is the understanding that we can do everything, if only we want to,” she writes. “We can break any boundary, beat any challenge, be pioneers in anything we choose, and not do it at the expense of anyone else, not to ‘win’ or ‘lose’ as the male gender does sometimes.”

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