Monday, January 16, 2006

Death Watching

Waiting for Death

Hadassah Hospital Jerusalem January 7, 2006 9pm

Seven floors above the media circus at the entrance to the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Arial Sharon lies in a drug induced coma, and in the cold of winter we sit and wait. And wait and wait, it is called a “Death Watch”.

For eight hours a day for the last three days you sit and wait, every half an hour, Mike Tobin, Amy Kellogg or Greg Burke the correspondents stand in front of the one eyed monster and relay the news, sometimes he’s in a critical stage, and at other times
the Prime Minister is improving.

Break another live shot for Washington

Repeat the News and wait for the next half hour to pass in the cold. It has been the pattern for three days now and could go on and on.

Prime Minister Sharon is an imposing person to say the least, I have filmed him on numerous occasions in his office and down on his farm. He even took us on a tour of the property and the final stop was on a hilltop overlooking the entire estate, marked by a small fenced off area that contains the grave of his wife with a garden bench for him to sit on and look at the final resting place of his Lilly, he told us then that this is where he wanted to be buried.

But in the Middle East, nothing is easy. The problem is that his farm “Sycamore Farm” is within range of the Qasam Rockets that militant Palestinians fire blindly out of Gaza, So if Jewish tradition was to hold in this case and the funeral was around the gravesite, you could have every World Leader from George Bush to Prince Charles and John Howard standing around with potential rockets falling down and exploding around them.

Break , pizza is here and then another live shot this time New York.

Past Midnight … three hours later and it is raining and colder, five layers of clothing and the chill just eats into you. And nothing has changed in Sharon’s condition, Nothing that we know. The machinations of world politics and Middle East politics are now taking place in neon lit antiseptic corridors.

The thing that is different here is that when you sit back and reflect on the life of Sharon, you start to realize that a major world figure lies in a coma, and a nation tries to convey that it is business as normal, the difference is that Israel is a nuclear nation, with a military force that can crush any of its neighbors and the man with his figure on the trigger is unconscious.

But sitting here in the midnight cold there are things that make you realize that this is still Israel with all its quirks. Come the end of Shabat tonight, the orthodox Hassidic Jews can come and visit their friends and family, so like a penguin parade they arrived in mass once the sun went down, like a scene from a Woody Allen film. Dressed in black they stood outside the hospital entrance and started praying, swaying in unison to the wall, not the famous Western wall but the wall by the side of the door of the hospital. I suppose one wall looks like another to a man bobbing up and down.

Another Washington live shot beckons and the beast must be fed as we like to say.

Hadassah Hospital

No comments: