No Protest Can Succeed in Israel if It Is Too Pleasant

Had Israelis joined in the doctors' protests in the summer instead of strolling through the boulevards, it is possible that the situation of the doctors and of medicine in this country would be better now.

I was recently hospitalized for a few days in Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital. The doctors in the emergency room treated me quickly and efficiently, and then I was sent for hospitalization in a pleasant room in the tower named after the donor, Ted Arison. I shared the room with only one other woman and was able to host my visitors in a spacious lobby near the ward with comfortable armchairs that make it pleasant for visitors and for patients waiting to undergo tests.

I went down a few times to the coffee shop on the ground floor and shopped at the nearby pharmacy. And one time, I accompanied one of my visitors to the coffee shop in the big mall adjacent to the hospital which also has a hotel for people who want to stay close to those they are visiting, or for people who are getting private treatment at the hospital and whose health and economic conditions make it possible for them to remain outside the hospital wards and enjoy reasonable meals.

The food at the hospital is a sorry affair. The reason that the hospital food is so off-putting and consists mainly of fats and carbohydrates, contrary to the recommended food pyramid, is no doubt economic. In that context, the gap between the interior decor of the hospital tower and the contents of the plastic bowls is amazing. It stems from the fact that it is impossible to stamp the logo of Arison - or any other donor - on the watery porridge, packet soup or fattening pastries that are served to the patients. Unfortunately it is also impossible to embroider donors' logos on the uniforms worn by the medical staff or to print them on the pay checks of the staff, for whom the State of Israel is supposed to care better than it does.

Therefore my conclusion, after being hospitalized there for a few days, is that Ichilov Hospital is an excellent place that supplies a plethora of varied services (and in my case, the treatment was also effective and good ) but that it is not the place to go to if, for example, you want to come across specialists. I did meet a number of interns and many caring and helpful nurses.

My memories from visits to other hospitals, until fairly recent years, always included the scene of doctors rushing through the corridors of a ward with faces that looked occupied. But scenes like that were missing this time from the corridors of the surgical ward. Other than the hasty morning ward round, which included a number of doctors who spoke among themselves, I was forced time and again to disturb the overworked nurses in a not always successful attempt to call a doctor from the doctors' room or elsewhere.

The doctor with whom I managed to speak, a pleasant young man who was well versed in the subject, had already been working for 23 consecutive hours. In a situation like that, where the specialists disappear from sight, the junior staff are forced to take all the fire from the patients and their angry family members, and rightly so. At times, the suspicion crossed my mind that some of the doctors who were so exhausted from their poorly paid work had carried out their threat and left the hospitals, one after the other and without anyone noticing, for fear that orders would be issued against them forbidding them to leave - while the senior staff among them were busy providing private treatment in the public hospitals in order to fill the hospital's coffers and their own empty pockets.

I have been thinking about this in the context of the talk of a return of the social protest movement in the summer. No protest can succeed here if it is too pleasant, even if it is accompanied by the very best of music. Had we joined in the doctors' protests in the summer instead of strolling through the boulevards, it is possible that the situation of the doctors and of medicine in this country would be better now. Until such time as people loot the supermarkets, and until the doctors desert the hospitals and allow people to die (these remarks should not be interpreted as a call to do so, or as incitement ), the change that is so urgently needed will not come about.