Feb 1, 2006

Jerusalem was smoking yesterday!

I happened to be in Jerusalem yesterday with a few minutes to spare. It does not happen often, as on the occassions that am usually in Herusalem are for specific purposes takign place within very limited time constraints. Yesterday I arrived a little early to where I had to be and had time to walk through the neighborhood to my location at a leisurely pace.

The first thing I noticed was the firetrucks. Everywhere I looked there were firetrucks roaring by. Then I saw some streets had been blocked off. I did not know what had happened, but I remembered hearing there were protests about something that I had not paid attention to. I crossed a busy intersection to see the charred remains still smokign in the middle of the intersection - remnants of the protests earlier in the day. Later last night I was driving through other parts of Jerusalem and the smoke was fairly thick in many other areas, with firetrucks and ambulances still racing from place to place.

It turns out the protest was over an autopsy. Now, I do not know the halacha regarding autopsies. I do know that frum Jews are generally against autopsies as they are against halacha, though some say that in mitigating circumstances, there are situations where they are allowed. I have no idea if that is true or not.

I do know that there is a general mistrust in Professor Hiss, the director of Abu Kabir, Israels pathology center. Professor Hiss has been invloved in the past in many scandals. he was investigated for being involved in the sale of body organs. he was investigated in the scandal of missing organs. he wa sinvestigated int he case where they found wrong body parts in wrong graves. He was investigated many times for many wrongdoings in the autopsy procedures and falsifying evidence for specific purposes. Do a google search on him and see for yourself.

With such a sensitive issue in the religious public as treatment of the dead body for burial, it is understandable how this turned into riots. The police requested a warrant from the courts to do an autopsy because they suspected foul play in the death of an elderly woman (who was Haredi). the courts granted to warrant and the police whisked off the body to Abu Kabir. Generally, as has happened many times in the past in similar circumstances, some organization will appeal the courts warrant and the case will be looked at by other justices and decided again. Sometimes they uphold the warrant and sometimes they overturn it (like in the recent case of a stabbing of a yeshiva bochur from England by Arabs in the Old City - Zaka appealed to the Supreme Court who overturned the warrant for autopsy based on the fact that everybody knew that he had been stabbed by an Arab and there was no real need for autopsy). In this case, the police moved so fast and Abu kabir did the autopsy so fast, that it allowed no time for appeals. This infuriated the Haredi public and ensued in riots all over Israel (not just in Jerusalem).

The Haredi public felt, aside from the fact that they feel invaded by the autopsy, their rights were trampled and in such a sensitive subject (the subject of autopsies has been a debate throughout the history of the State of Israel between the authorities and the religious public) they should have been given time to appeal.

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