Almost two months have passed since the government was formed, and several key components of the coalition accords have yet to be implemented. Among them is a commitment on the part of the Likud party to restore the original version of MDA's blood donation forms, replacing "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" with "Father" and "Mother," as was the text before former Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) ordered the language altered to reflect the progressive-leftist worldview embraced by many in the previous government.
The issue is one that has affected Israel's blood supplies significantly, as 70 percent of those who donate blood in the country are from the haredi or religious sectors, both of which vehemently object to the progressive agenda and its introduction into official documentation. Seeing blood donations plunge following the uproar, MDA decided to entirely obliterate the section on its donor forms relating to parentage, but this move has failed to satisfy, both for ideological reasons, and for reasons of practical importance.
Indeed, at a meeting held between the leaders of the protest against the changes made to MDA's forms and the heads of the blood bank, the importance of including information on parentage was stressed. In the past, it has been used to locate donors from various specific locations when a certain sub-category of blood was required. Consequently, the meeting ended with an agreement to formally recommend the restoration of the original "father" and "mother" text on the forms, along with information on their countries of origin.
A commitment to do precisely that was made by the Likud to three of its coalition partners when the government was formed (Religious Zionism, Noam, and Shas). Nonetheless, even though the implementation would seem to be a simple matter, no progress has been made, prompting Avi Maoz, head of the Noam party, to resign his position as deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday in protest.
"I tried to do what I could to restore the wording of 'father' and 'mother' on the official forms used by various governmental departments, as we promised our voters and as was promised in the coalition agreement with our party," Maoz wrote in his letter of resignation. "However, we have yet to succeed in this and other matters." Although the issue gained notoriety over the blood donor forms, the 'Parent 1' and 'Parent 2' formula was adopted in multiple government ministries during the previous government's term, and has yet to be abandoned.
Restoring the original wording of MDA's forms is a "simple step to take for the acting Health Minister," according to the heads of the protest against the initial changes. "It would enable thousands of potential donors who are waiting to donate blood to do just that. We're not talking about holding long meetings or enacting complicated legislation. This is simply about fulfilling promises made in the coalition accords which the Shas party also signed on to. We demand that acting Health Minister Ben Tzur [of the Shas party] advance this measure at the earliest possible opportunity."
MDA, however, continues to maintain that the restoration of "father" and "mother" is unnecessary. "We have checked this matter, and it emerged that the last time use was made of information related to the country of origin of blood donors in order to locate rare blood types was many years ago," the organization said in a statement. "Information given on the identities of parents 1 and 2 does not, in any case, provide information on the biological parents of donors. In addition, the overwhelming majority of blood donors were born in Israel and their parents, too, were born in Israel. In light of this, it was decided to omit the question on country of origin of parents on the form filled out by blood donors."
A later statement received by MDA added that, "Historically, it was very important for Magen David Adom to know the ethnic backgrounds of parents for blood screening. With modern technology available to type blood, this is no longer necessary. There is no longer any reference to parents on our medical questionnaire and there has not been for some time. Our only agenda is saving lives in Israel."
Approached for comment, acting Health Minister Ben Tzur said only, "No comment," while senior officials in the Health Ministry told Israel National News that the issue was being examined.