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      Op-Ed: Choose LIfe

      Published: Friday, December 13, 2013 9:34 AM
      Israel's Channel 2 ran a program on the suicide of a person with Parkinson's, treating it as heroism. This act should not be glorified.


      “Thank you,” an anonymous friend wrote me on Facebook. “Today I received another notification, for the umpteenth time, that I must once again receive chemotherapy. I have no more strength and I really needed your speech.”

      Since I posted my Knesset speech  on choosing life over assisted suicide, I have received many similar responses.

      Tuesday night was an “all nighter” at the Knesset. Deliberations on the Infiltrators Law wore on well past midnight. So my wife, Tzippy, watched the popular television show “Uvdah” by herself. Wednesday morning, Tzippy called me, extremely upset. “How could it be that Channel 2 presents a Parkinson’s patient who chose to end his life as a hero, a victor?”

      It’s been over ten years since Parkinson’s moved into our home. Tzippy’s first symptoms appeared when she was in her mid-thirties. For years, we ran from doctor to doctor, unsuccessfully trying to figure out what was wrong. Parkinson’s? Who even considers Parkinson’s at such a young age?

      I don’t know anybody more heroic than my wife. For her, every day is a battle for life and its meaning. It is very difficult for her to walk – but she runs to cook for lone soldiers in Ra’anana, to arrange for neighbors to visit with the local ill who have no one to look after them, lends an empathetic ear to whoever needs to unload an emotional burden and fills her days with endless acts of kindness. She and tens of thousands of others who suffer debilitating disease fight for their lives – and the meaning in their lives – from morning to night, 24/7, all year around. There are no vacations from this cursed disease and others like it.

      Along comes Ilana Dayan on Channel 2 and dedicates an entire episode to Mati Milo, z”l, the person who decided to surrender to Parkinson’s and end his life in the only place that has legalized mercy killing – Switzerland. In other words, the rest of the world also understands that humanity cannot officially sanction suicide.

      I cannot judge Mati Milo, z”l. Our Sages tell us never to judge a person until we are in his shoes. I do not judge him and I certainly do not wish his circumstances on anybody. I will not interfere in any person’s ethical dilemmas. The problem is not Mati Milo and his decision. The problem is the glorification that Channel 2 lent to his act of desperation.

      “Do you not understand that you are encouraging more ill people to commit suicide?” I asked in the Knesset. “Is there no limit to lowly populism? To the drive for rating at any price?”

      Beyond their honest pity and empathy, the show’s creators know that to draw a large audience, they must target their lowly curiosity factor. We all fear death and are drawn to it at one and the same time. A person who willingly goes to his death and allows us a peek at his last moments makes us very curious. Many films draw their audiences in a most vulgar way by wallowing in death.

      Television series about horrific murders become more and more popular when they show dead bodies or body parts. Body exhibits travel the world and awaken nauseating interest. This is the pornography of death. That is the low place targeted by Channel 2, wrapped in a sticky layer of empathy and pity.

      “I would like to ask Channel 2 to create a sequel to their show on the heroes who chose life; an op-ed film on the triumph of living one more day to its fullest; on those people who do not surrender to death,” I said in the Knesset. (And please do not ask us to be featured in your film. We have already sacrificed enough of our privacy.)

      The Channel 2 film did not even consider the possibility that the real heroism - the true triumph - is the choice of life over death.

      I doubt that they will listen to me; that they will find a few of the tens of thousands of these true heroes in our midst and will tell their story. After all, the choice to live is the proper and natural choice – but it is boring.

      Who cares about these heroes? How much rating will their stories produce?

      Tzippy Feiglin posted these inspiring words on her Facebook page:

      "It is with great difficulty that I’ve chosen to deal with the topic of Mati Milo, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and whose assisted suicide was glorified last night on a popular TV show. I cannot maintain my silence. Nobody wants to suffer. Nobody wants to lose their dignity. Who are we really, and what is our purpose here on G-d’s green earth? Are we here to suffer? Are we here just for ourselves?

      "There are many people out there ill with a disease that is considered incurable, or suffering unimaginable pain, not knowing if they will wake up in the morning, the nights are so bad. Yet they open their eyes the morning after, and realize, darn I’m still alive, and say, “Thank you G-d, for returning my soul. You saw my suffering through the night and decided I still have what to do in this world; It’s not yet my time.

      "I know it’s so hard, but look around. See the good, CHOOSE LIFE. It’s a conscious decision every day, all day, every hour. If G-d spared you yet another day, as hard as it is, and I know, and many others reading this know for themselves just how hard life is - and still choose life- keep choosing! G-d’s salvation can come in the blink of an eye. Believe you are worthy and G-d is keeping you here for a reason. Wishing all a peaceful, pain-free night, and a heart filled with gratitude in the morning.

      "Praise G-d for He is good, for His loving kindness is eternal".

      Translated from the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon, sent to Arutz Sheva by the writer's office.