David Grossman Lifta -  Alex Levac - 08112011
Grossman during a visit to the Lifta facility in 2009. Photo by Alex Levac
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The Health Ministry's decision to close down the long-serving Magal Rehabilitation Center for youth in Jerusalem's Lifta neighborhood was harshly slammed on Monday by celebrated author David Grossman.

As reported Monday in Haaretz, the ministry intends to close the facility and treat all young drug and alcohol addicts at the Malkishua facility on Mount Gilboa in the north instead.

"The state's treatment of this institution is scandalous," said Grossman, who has been following the work of the highly successful facility since its foundation in the early 1990s. The facility and teenagers in it served as inspiration for Grossman's novel, "Someone to Run With" (2001 ); and some two years ago, Grossman stayed at the facility for 24 hours to write about the experience for the Haaretz Writers' Edition.

Magal is run by the Jerusalem Anti-Drug Association, a nonprofit group controlled by the Jerusalem Municipality.

"The Lifta facility is an exemplary model of a humanistic therapeutic approach with extraordinary achievements," Grossman said. "It saves lives and also gives hope to hundreds of youths who, without it, would be doomed to the bitterest fate.

"In my opinion, it's outrageous to see how such a place, which combines both idealism and a pragmatic approach and is dedicated to these lost, suffering youths, is measured by the state in monetary terms," Grossman continued. "It's an example of the state's lack of understanding of its obligation to its people.

"Instead of realizing it is a tool to make a person's life easier and protect him, [the state] measures all of us in coins. This is what the social protest was all about - the ministries' deep lack of understanding of what they are supposed to do, what we have chosen them for.

"From the economic aspect, there's also an inconceivable distortion here. The small sum it costs the state to rehabilitate a boy or girl in Magal is a drop in the ocean compared to the sum the state will have to pay if this youth wanders around the streets and falls into a life of crime, with all that implies," Grossman said.

The Jerusalem Municipality, which is partly funding the legal battle against the closure of the rehab center, also blasted the Health Ministry's move.

"Closing Magal and transferring the activity to the north makes it much more difficult for people from the center and south of the country to access this important service. Closing the center will also lead to the dismissal of 17 devoted professional employees," said a statement from city hall.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: דויד גרוסמן מתגייס למען מרכז הגמילה לנוער בליפתא