A report published by the Ministry of Health a few days ago determines that the new leading cause of death in Israel is cancer. Previously, this dubious title was reserved for heart disease. The report explains the change by citing the development of new methods for the treatment of heart disease. At first glance, it sounds like good news. Here we are, a tiny country in the Middle East, able to defeat one of Death’s servants. Now we could move on to focus on its “lesser” sibling: Mr. Malignant Tumor.
Alas, if only this was a sign of progress, or a tribute to Israeli medicine.
As a child growing up in Israel, I was always taught that road accidents is the leading cause of death in Israel. Whether a proven fact or not, it had been ingrained into our brain. Teachers used to cite the appalling numbers of car victims, and the fact that these numbers exceed by far the number of Israeli war casualties. Well, it is true that the Israeli driver earned the reputation of being snappish and restless — a rather accurate description, which could only be rivaled by the Italian driver’s reputation. And getting into my car and onto the road is sometimes like entering a battlefield. On the one hand, it’s a stressful experience for many, but on the other, the perfect opportunity to vent off some anger — as honks, curse words, and the middle finger do not pose a rare occasion out here.
And what about violent crimes? The numbers are rising, and we hear more and more of young teenagers being stabbed outside of dancing clubs, or of old folks being brutally beaten and robbed. Crime families, such as the Alperon family, or the Rosenstein’s, have gained celebrity status, and appear to dodge the police time and time again with the help of their fancy lawyers. Domestic violence is also a phenomenon that declines to recedes, despite massive awareness.
Terror and rockets continue to claim their victims, although the numbers are have drastically fallen in recent years, thanks to the government’s firm approach. But even so, as peace is constantly lingering, conflict is likely to cause more sorrow for Israeli families in the future.
So we’ve been left with Cancer to be our biggest foe. Personally, I find the prospect of cancer terrifying. I know too many people afflicted by it, friends and family. In addition, the fervent sun in Israel is relentless in summer, and the presence of antennas and satellite dishes is always on the rise. It seems the world turns more and more radioactive by the day, and not only in Israel.
Finally, I want to address the reduced percentage of heart-related death in Israel. It is indeed a positive mark, but it’s something we can see across the Western world, and it is not unique to Israel. We have the privilege of placing advanced technology in our hospitals and cutting-edge drugs in our pharmacies, but less and less people can afford these — as poverty is spreading, while medical care is being progressively privatized.
Dear Government Officials, we may have won a single battle, but the war is still waging, and there is much more to do. Death is a tricky serpent.