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Journalist's ‘Swiss Suicide’ Sparks Euthanasia Debate In Israel

With the help of an organization called Dignitas, well-known Israeli television and radio personality Adi Talmor ended his life last week in Switzerland. The euthanasia case came as a huge surprise in Israel, which is now busily examining the issue of ass

Israeli television and radio personality Adi Talmor
Israeli television and radio personality Adi Talmor
Serge Dumont

TEL AVIV- Israel recently lost one if its best-known television presenters, Adi Talmor. His passing has prompted a flurry of discussion -- not just about Talmor's life and legacy, but also about the controversial way he died: euthanasia.

Talmor, 58, ended his life last week in Switzerland with the help of a local organization called Dignitas, an assisted dying group that cooperates with people who like Talmor, suffer from terminal illnesses.

Until his final days, nobody knew where Talmor was. Some of his colleagues speculated that he'd gone into a deep depression. But others thought the media star, who spent the past decade or so working for an army radio station called Galei Tsahal, was having an affair. Talmor had a reputation as something of a ladies man.

The real story, it turned out, was far more tragic. Talmor learned he was suffering from terminal cancer in his right lung. Doctors told him he had no more than a year to live. So Talmor turned to Dignitas, which helped him end his life – far away from friends and family.

News of the journalist's "Swiss suicide" came as a shock to people in Israel, where euthanasia is forbidden both by law and religion. "That's why I decided to commit suicide in Switzerland," he wrote in long letters that are only now going public.

This was the first time most Israelis had heard about Dignitas. The founder of the Swiss organization, Ludwig Minelli, was interviewed by local Israeli newspapers and television stations. He explained his "work techniques' and also revealed that Adi Talmor was accompanied by two people when he passed away and that he had asked for two cigarettes and a last beer before dying. Then, his ashes were spread in an area near Zurich. Neither Talmor's relatives nor his employers knew anything about the procedures.

Since then, popular Israeli dailies such as Israel Hayom, Yediot Aharonot and Maariv have written several features on "Swiss suicide," which is now the subject of a heated national debate.

"So far, the Swiss technique cannot be imported to Israel," Avinoam Rikhles, the ethics committee president for Israel's professional medical association, opined in a recent television debate organized by one of the country's principal networks. He went on to say, however, that "it's better to die peacefully than to die in pain."

Rikhles, a professor at the Hadassah Medical Center and University in Jerusalem, also admitted that several of his patients have gone to Switzerland to die – a decision he "truly understands."

Read the original article in French

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