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Tea tree oil instead of antibiotics

  In recent years, several babies have died in Israel who did not receive normal medical care from the moment they were born, because their families preferred alternative medicine

By: Sharon Gal
On one of his international domestic flights Dr. Antoni Loder in the magazine "Ko Rakiye", published by Yoram Barnea and the company "Arkie", which was placed in the seat in front of him. In the table of contents, among the multitude of tourism, culture and aviation articles, the title "Jewish medicine" caught the eye of the director of the children's department at Ziv Hospital in Safed. With a hasty flip, he skipped to page 56 and lost his composure.

The airline dedicated two pages in its latest issue to the work of Moshe Raphael Zror Mitzvah, a homeopathic healer. "A man of pleasant manners, full of joy in life and very knowledgeable in the fields in which he deals", Yoram Barnea complimented him, who told, among other things, about the workshops and seminars he holds on a bunch of spiritual methods for healing and introspection.

"The medical fasts", Zaror explained to the reporter, "admittedly contribute to weight loss, but they have the added value of good health - it is especially recommended for executives who work in an electronic environment." At the bottom of the article, which the software mentions as promotional articles, appeared the phone number of Zoror and a kind of business card. All these under the title: "Jewish medicine - the internal dimension of health". "Arkia" does not understand Dr. Loder's criticism: "The society magazine brings a selection of colorful articles from all walks of life, and in the society's opinion there is nothing wrong with an article about Jewish homeopathic medicine."

But Dr. Loder is worried. "The man is as charismatic as any cult leader," he said of Zoror, "you hear him, you are completely convinced. I heard him on the radio, I wanted to meet him - know the enemy - but I couldn't." When Lauder says enemy, he does not mean a person, but an idea. His concern is a result of his experiences at work. He provides an amazing statistic: "At least once a week, a medically neglected child comes to me."

About a month ago, the news of the death of a three and a half month old baby from the Hasidic church in Hazor HaGalilit was published in the media. The Ministry of Health claimed that the baby died due to medical neglect - he suffered from a high fever for several days, was not treated and arrived at Ziv Hospital in Safed lifeless. At the court hearing, the police claimed that the baby fell ill on September 8, received natural medicines from his parents ("and not medicines recommended by a qualified doctor"), his health condition continued to deteriorate and two days later he was brought dead to the hospital.

Under these circumstances, the police did not claim that there was any suspicion of negligence on the part of the parents, but requested an autopsy for fear that an infectious disease caused the baby's death (he was supposed to be vaccinated on the day of his death). Judge Jada Bassol denied the request. "It is settled law that the fact that the cause of death is unknown is not a reason for issuing an order for the autopsy," she stated.

The death of the seven-year-old boy Amiel Feldman Mizfat also caused a public uproar. Criminal proceedings against his mother are ongoing in the district court in Nazareth on the charge of causing his death through negligence. According to the indictment, Chaya Yochaved Feldman, Amiel's mother, and her friend Zahva Masha Paz (who apparently died of malnutrition about a month ago), who sided with homeopathic medicine, did not bring Amiel to the hospital even though he was suffering from severe pneumonia.

But these two cases are not the only ones. Three cases of medical neglect that ended in death were simply not reported: about two months ago, a one-month-old baby in Misfat died after contracting staphylococcus. It turned out to the hospital that he was not vaccinated and was treated with homeopathic medicine. "It's a bacterium that has a treatment against it," said Dr. Loder. "What I heard from his parents, converts, was 'God gave, God took away. We put him to sleep at night and found him dead in the morning. This'".

Following the incident, Loder asked the hospital management to sue the Ministry of Health to investigate the incident thoroughly. According to him, he also contacted the police to find out why they did not act against the baby's parents. "I received some general answer from the police, that they exercise discretion in each and every case."

Another case happened on August 17, 99: a two-week-old baby in Rosh Pina, who was not vaccinated, died of jaundice. His parents, "mystical yuppies", as defined by Loder, did not go to a hospital from the day he was born at home. "It so happened that he was kept for two weeks with severe jaundice at home and was brought dead to the hospital." According to Loder, he contacted the district doctor and asked to check the circumstances of the death, "but there was no response".

The third unreported case happened in September '97. A two-year-old baby suffered from meningitis. "The boy just arrived dead at the hospital with pus on his head." Recently, a three-year-old Mizfat baby was brought to the hospital with a similar illness, but he survived after a head surgery.

"I was scared," says Loder, "as a scientist, as a decent and enlightened person, I am concerned about the general phenomenon in society: running away from medicine." He admits, however, that "medicine itself has a share of the blame." In a study he did, he discovered that in the last five years, about half of the population turned "at some point" to non-medical treatment: therapists, homeopathic healers or healers. "And this does not include buying vitamins, etc. It means treatment by a person who is not a doctor. We are very similar to Europe and the USA in this regard, unfortunately."

Dr. Loder sees the current situation as "a symptom of a retreat to a culture more rooted in superstitions, black magic, demons and spirits." This is a lack of understanding, a failure of the education system, that people do not understand what medicine is." The health system, he says, has a part in this: "There is a difficult and inhuman bureaucracy. Doctors don't have time to devote to their patients, and under the auspices of economic interest, you should be thrown out of the room and get someone else. It's an escape from rational thinking, and it's dangerous for the future of society."

He is not only criticizing the health system. "Universities, hospitals and medical schools do not know how to react and take advantage of the phenomenon with great cynicism. Some hospitals charge good money and give alternative treatment that has not undergone objective scientific control. The most shocking thing is that the medical world itself legitimizes it."

Dr. Loder has no doubt what the motive is for the "outbreak" of alternative medicine - "very big, very dirty money. On the one hand, this is a kind of cheating, a cultural and intellectual retreat. On the other hand, there are very significant financial matters here. This is an unhealthy phenomenon." He has no doubt, the director of the children's department at Ziv Hospital, that "it is a phenomenon that is expanding and will reach a stage where it will explode."

At the Moshe Raphael Institute of Jewish Medicine, a bunch of falcons in Safed for inspection. Zror, 40 years old, came to Safed from Haifa about ten years ago. According to "Ko Rakie", 13 years ago he repented after serving in the navy, studied art and painting in Haifa and traveled the world.

Zoror does not rule out conventional medicine outright, but maintains that "there are non-acute cases that do not require conventional medicine, everything related to preventive medicine, how not to get sick. Apart from that, as far as chronic diseases are concerned, instead of a person walking around with a bag of medicine all his life and the dose will increase, there are other solutions."

For example, one of the substitutes for antibiotics, according to him, is tea tree oil. "It's much more efficient. The body's reaction is stronger, it integrates with the body and mind, not something foreign." A bundle supports the combination of the two types of medicine. "I hope that the combination will not have to be forced, but will take place out of love for the profession, between those who practice complementary medicine and those who practice conventional medicine."

"Forget about it, it's a matter of money and prestige," his friend, also a homeopathic healer, Haredi Misfat, remarks to him. A bunch doesn't like to talk too long. He is very careful with his language. In front of his house on Mount Canaan is a large farm, full of trees, where there is a building that serves as his office and several hospitality pavilions for holding workshops, seminars and seminars on a variety of topics - nature, health, mysticism, medicine and Judaism. He also operates a Rambam Jewish Medical College, a tea house, healing fasts "for cleansing the body of toxins, weight control and skin and beauty care", and also conducts trips to the graves of righteous people and holy sites in the Galilee.

You can learn a lot about the institute under his management from a booklet he distributes in his office, where there is a library full of homeopathy books. Maimonides' picture is on the first page of the booklet. In a review of Jewish medicine it is written that "a person has natural healing powers that work in balance. The Jewish healer is entrusted with maintaining the strength and vitality of these forces."

"The philosophy of Jewish medicine differs from the scientific understanding in Western medicine... Conventional medicine diagnoses diseases and treats them based on an etiological thinking and principle, according to which each disease exists as a separate entity and has its own causes and its own methods of treatment, when both the cause and the treatment are both external to the body. On the other hand, the principle of restoration to health in Jewish medicine is based on the wisdom that in reality there are no specific diseases, but only internal weaknesses and imbalances in the body's systems and the forces of the mind that are expressed in distress reactions and different symptom patterns in the body and mind." This is the essence of his view.

Bunch resents that conventional medicine finds several cases of homeopathic treatment ending in death to tattoo the basics of homeopathy. "Why did they combine natural medicine with conventional medicine?" He touches the most sensitive nerve, "It's also financial considerations, but not only. They will not come to teach us morals, those who sat down for two months and were sick lying in the corridors."

Zror claims that when patients suffering from high fever are brought to him, he does not take any risks. "A regular doctor can do a blood test, in biochemistry there are some things that cannot be seen without it. A doctor can do less than me until he gets the test results. That's why the solution is a combination of the two medicines."

His friend intervenes: "Many times they do experiments on patients. Six doctors in the department with a different opinion about the same child," he said and went back to look at the book Ab Kers, a sort of encyclopedia, which details hundreds of medicinal plants and their effects. Zuror says angrily: "Every patient of mine is a success. People who have given up on hospitals, who give antibiotics to the child again and again and again, usually come here."

Regarding the sensitive issue of vaccinations, mainly due to the death of the baby Mahzor (Tseror claims he did not take care of him), this is Tseror's teaching: "I don't say 'yes' or 'no' to vaccines, I show the risks if we vaccinate or not. It is impossible to know what is more dangerous", he says, "a mother who does not want to vaccinate should understand that there are also natural vaccines and you should also take care of the child's nutrition - breast milk is the best vaccine for the baby, and the yellowish liquid before the milk is even better. Today, the Ministry of Health already understood this, thank God, and breastfeeding is encouraged."

According to him, "The vaccine given by the hospitals does not really guarantee that the child will not be sick, that he will not have paralysis. If there is a doctor who is willing to sign for me that he accepts all responsibility, please. I also cannot sign a form in which I take responsibility for the use of a substitute for vaccines. Since both of us cannot sign, the parents should be allowed to decide."


"If there is really a concern for public health, it is our duty to intervene"

The head of the medical administration at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Yitzchak Berlovich, explains that the ministry's position regarding non-conventional medicine is liberal, "as long as it is done under the responsibility of a doctor licensed to practice medicine." According to him, the practice of medicine by a person who is not a licensed doctor is a violation of the law, but Berlovich is aware that "in this matter there is a lot of gray between the white and the black".

Berlovich, like Antony Luder, admits that "there is a problem with modern health services in Israel and in the world." We have a lack of resources - doctor, nurse time, and a large part of the treatment recipients feel that they are not getting the attention they deserve." In his eyes, this is a description of a situation, not a criticism of the system. "There is big money in all types of medicine," he said, "even conventional medicine. We are aware that indeed the economy, people's desire to earn money, affects their behavior, including doctors."

But he does not believe that it is the Ministry of Health's role to insist on law enforcement in cases of unnatural deaths of children due to not receiving conventional medical treatment. "This is the role of the police, and they should demand that the autopsy be performed. There is a very clear division of responsibility. If there really is a concern for public health, due to the possibility of death from an infectious disease, it is our duty to intervene." In the case of the death of the baby from Hazor HaGalilit about a month ago, he does not believe - contrary to the position of the Ziv Hospital in Safed - that there was a reason to insist on an autopsy.

Berlovich revealed his opinion on homeopathic medicine by saying, "I guess if it was good, it would be taught in medical school." But the phenomenon is familiar to him: "There is a tendency in the Western world to run away from or use more and more non-conventional medicine for sex."

The commander of the Safet station, Corporal Fars Faraj, said in response to the allegation of laxity in the police's handling of cases of suspected negligence on the part of parents that resulted in the death of a baby, that "as soon as there is suspicion, we take care. When something raises the suspicion that a baby died for mysterious reasons, there is nothing we don't check."

{Appeared in the Haaretz newspaper, 6/10/2000} The Hidan site was until 2002 part of the IOL portal from the Haaretz group

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