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Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2002 / 18 Tishrei, 5763

Julia Gorin

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A kidney-warming story | So not only do Jews help Palestinians, but dead Jews help Palestinians. Not just dead Jews, but Jews killed by Palestinians.

This week the world learned of seven year-old Yasmin Abu Ramila, who (hopefully) has gotten a new lease on life because of a kidney transplanted from the body of 19-year-old Jonathan Jesner, killed in Thursday's suicide bus attack in Tel-Aviv.

G-d bless. G-d bless a million times over. No child should have to live in pain every day, on dialysis and unsure whether she will see the next morning; an agonizingly short life shouldn't be so agonizing. So thank Heaven that something life-affirming came out of last week's routine horror. It makes me all the more proud of Israel, that apartheid state, to think of all the Jewish names that likely were on the same waiting list as Yasmin's, only further down.

This is one of those heart-warming stories which tempts me to give over to the warm, fuzzy feelings--those tear-jerking sensations that make me think in optimistic platitudes like "Maybe this is the act of kindness that will finally make the pivotal difference." It makes me gush as I think that here is at least one Palestinian family that will love one Jewish family. I even start thinking like a Jew, hoping "They'll like us! They'll like us! Maybe this will buy Israel another six-week reprieve from attacks!" I start pondering how if only every Jew could donate an organ to a sick Muslimů

But then I'm jerked back to reality and reminded that, given what we're up against, one human interest story about a pure act of compassion is just a drop in the bucket, which is emptied out daily by new resentments.

So after succumbing to the warm feeling and crying out the mush, I succumb to the joke. The dark joke that materializes despite myself and belies my sensitivities. It's a joke that no doubt has made its way into other heads besides mine, but only fleetingly since, unlike in mine--where it will linger until I give it voice--most people have the good taste to perish it.

But really! Talk about an incentives program! How could it have taken so long to discover this additional, obvious benefit to blowing up Israelis when half the work is done by the blast itself?

Nor can one help but scratch one's head at the trouble and worry this Palestinian family went through to save the life of a single child, when Palestinian children are otherwise so expendable to their families. But my main concern is for the girl: Now that she's part Jewish, does she become an eligible target for anti-Semitism?

On a positive note, however, the likelihood is reduced that transplant recipients like Yasmin will ever allow themselves to be recruited into suicide-bombing rings, to blow out their organs after it was so difficult to secure healthy ones. But this then leads back to a cynical question:

Was the girl mended with the hope that she would one day be well enough to get around on her own and get onto a crowded Tel Aviv bus?

Is it wrong to be joking about this? There is karma, after all. But just as a journalist is obligated to tell the story if a story is there, a comedian is obligated to tell the joke if it's there. Unless she values doing the right thing over doing right by her profession. In which case I probably shouldn't have told the joke.

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JWR contributor Julia Gorin is a journalist and stand-up comic residing in Manhattan. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2002, Julia Gorin