CHIANGMAI– A story of a 12-year-old Israeli boy found living in a monastery in Chiang Mai has made waves in Israel since a report on Israel’s Channel 2 news and has prompted Israeli officials to explore ways of returning the boy to Israel.
The boy was found by Israeli tourists who were visiting his monastery and were taken back when he approached them and started speaking fluent Hebrew.
The child reportedly underwent a series of treatments to cure a blood cancer that he was diagnosed with at the age of three. According to the boy’s parents and the social worker who handled the case, the medical treatment failed, and the parents, at the advice of monks, decided to send him to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand.
The mother explained that thanks to the care he received in the monastery, his blood tests had improved. “There’s an enlightened man in the monastery, and he is keeping the boy alive,” she told Reporters
“It’s life energy. Do only doctors heal? Doctors don’t know how to heal. Doctors can only dismantle the harmful elements. That’s a different concept.”
In the year since he went to Thailand, “his mother was there for half a year and I was there for three months; during the remainder, another relative was there,” the father said. “He was with someone 24 hours a day.”
“He’s currently in good shape,” the father continued. “He’s strong and healthy, both emotionally and physically.”
Asked about claims that the boy had already been recovering in Israel, and whether he wouldn’t be better off in his natural environment, surrounded by friends, the father answered, “He has friends there. It isn’t his natural environment, but he’s surrounded by a great deal of support and love.”
The mother added that “anyone who hasn’t lived in an oncology ward for four years and hasn’t seen the children who don’t leave it, who hasn’t seen the children who are stunted by all the treatments, who hasn’t seen all this suffering, shouldn’t come and judge, when your child is healthy … My child has been healthy for a year. My child is learning, my child has grown, my child will be a wonderful man. And he’ll be alive.”
The Israel News Agency interviewed the boy’s father. Asked about his son’s expressed desire to return to Israel, the father responded, “A boy in the oncology ward also knows he wants to go
home, but he knows he is receiving good, dedicated treatment. You have to distinguish between desire and need.”
Israel’s Child Welfare Council Director Dr. Yitzhak Kadman told reporters that this is a serious event that would be dealt with urgently. “We received information about it and went immediately to all relevant ministries,” said Kadman. “This is a very serious case.”
According to Kadman, the situation where the child is thousands of miles from home, living in a convent with older people who do not speak his language, is “intolerable.” Consequently, the Child Welfare Council decided to contact the authorities and ensure an official representative of Israel went to meet the boy.
“A child is not the property of the parent in the sense that he or she can do with they want with the child – the child is a person and his or her safety and welfare must be taken into account with the mobilization of all authorities to guarantee the child’s safe return. ”
Dr. Isaac Yaniv, Director of the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology division at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, warned that the child may suffer in the future from other diseases due to lack of appropriate medical surveillance. “This might hurt his health,” he explained, adding that esoteric treatments were not a substitute for medical ones.