The best and worst

Posted: Sep 27, 2002 12:00 AM
Doctors in Israeli hospitals had been noticing that when they operated on people wounded in homicide bombing attacks, patients often continued to bleed even after being sutured. Eventually, a young medical resident figured out why: The terrorists filled their bombs with as many nails, screws, glass shards and pieces of shrapnel as they could, and these were first dipped in rat poison. The rat poison worked as an anti-coagulant. Now Israeli emergency room doctors can treat bombing victims with Vitamin K to control the bleeding, but as the Rocky Mountain News reported, stronger drugs can cost up to $10,000 per vial. And so Israel struggles from day to day. The homicide bombings have diminished as a consequence of Israel's tough response -- so much for the argument that force would only intensify "the cycle of violence." But the depraved hatred the Palestinians have revealed by their sponsorship of such violence has left many Israelis with a sense of horrified despair. In the midst of this abomination, one story deserves more attention than it has received. It is the story of 19-year-old Jonathan (Yoni) Jesner. He was a religious Jew from Scotland who had gone to Israel to study in a Yeshiva before beginning medical school. On Friday, Sept. 20, he boarded a bus in Tel Aviv that was blown up by a homicide bomber. Yoni was one of six who died. When doctors told the stunned family of their son's death, they asked whether they would like to donate Yoni's organs. His father later explained: "There were about 20 of the family in the hospital, and we had to consider for 10, 15 minutes. But we thought that because Yoni was going to be a doctor and he wanted to help people that the organs should be donated for humanitarian purposes. We weren't told and we didn't care whether it went to a Palestinian, an Israeli or an American, or whatever, and Yoni wouldn't have cared." Yasmin Abu Ramila is a Palestinian 7-year-old from East Jerusalem. She has been undergoing dialysis in an Israeli hospital -- yes, an Israeli hospital -- for nearly two years. When Yoni's kidneys became available, Yasmin's name was next on the waiting list for transplants. She is doing well, and while it's too early to say whether the transplant was a complete success, she has been given a chance at life. The girl's father has said he would like to meet the Jesner family some day. The child's mother was grateful. "I don't know what to say to thank the family of the man killed in the attack," she told the Israeli daily Ma'ariv. "I grieve for their loss and thank them for their donation." But what of the larger Palestinian community that has greeted each bombing with war whoops and cheers? Can a gesture as tender and humane as the Jesner family's penetrate their hate-distorted minds? A Jewish kidney now keeps little Yasmin Abu Ramila alive. But the question, "Can a Jew touch a Palestinian's heart?" remains open. *** Personal Note: Let me once more thank all of the thousands of readers who have written to inquire about my son Jonathan. After a serious accident in May, he has made a complete and quite miraculous recovery. His balance was shaky for a little while, and he underwent physical therapy to regain full use of his right hand and arm. But he enjoyed a carefree summer and is now happily embarked on fifth grade. He is even allowed, with strict supervision, to ride his bike again. Our family cannot stress enough how much it meant to have the support and, especially, the prayers of so many wonderful people. We cherish many of your letters, and Jon's room is adorned with some of the photos, drawings, artwork and, in one case, a baseball cap, that were sent to him. We feel blessed -- not just by Jon's recovery but for the outpouring of generosity his accident occasioned.