March 1, 2024


 When do politicians lose the right to medical privacy? For Israelis, this is hardly a theoretical question. When Prime Minister Ariel Sharon collapsed with a stroke in January, the nation was almost paralysed while he lay unconscious. A senior neurologist at Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem, Professor Avi Reches, contended at a recent seminar that the public’s right to know about a leader’s health is more important than his or her right to privacy. He proposed that a statutory body of physicians should be created to decide if a prime minister is capable of continuing at the tiller.

How doctors dealt with another PM was the centre of different debate. Dr Ofer Grosbard, a clinical psychologist, has just written a book alleging that the late Menachem Begin suffered from manic depression. He criticised Begin’s colleagues for failing to disclose his weakness even though it had impaired his ability to do his job.