Goren Under Fire for Having Operation in a U.S. Hospital

Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren has come under severe criticism in the press and public opinion here for having gone to Cleveland for a quadruple bypass operation by an American surgeon. The operation was performed successfully last week by Dr. Floyd Loop who performed a similar operation on King Khalid of Saudi Arabia two years ago.

The criticism is two-fold. Goren is being taken to task for having surgery performed abroad when hundreds of similar operations are performed each year at Israeli hospitals. People are also incensed over the rights and privileges of important public figures to have their medical expenses covered by the public purse, including expenses incurred abroad.

The Goren case has stirred debate here over the various laws and regulations awarding medical benefits to VIPs. These laws and regulations are not entirely clear. Some top level persons, including government ministers, are entitled to public defrayment of their medical expenses and those of members of their families. Several newspapers have called for a thorough overhaul of the entire system so that such benefits are limited only to the highest office holders.

The question of when the public should pay the medical bills of officials who receive treatment abroad is also being aired. In Goren’s case, his Israeli physician, Dr. Henri Neufeld, chief of cardiology of the Sheba Medical Center, did not recommend that the Chief Rabbi go overseas for surgery. But Goren’s family decided on the Cleveland Clinic and Neufeld provided the Americans with his full medical history.

This issue has been brought to the Knesset in a motion submitted by Labor MK God Yaacobi.

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