The Schiavo case meets none of the stringent criteria applied in Israel. Her condition isn't terminal. She can survive for many years, which is perhaps what troubles her estranged husband, who has a new family and children with a common-law wife. Schiavo left no living will and the Florida courts were swayed merely by the husband's contention that she had spoken against artificial life support after viewing a sad movie. Finally, the position of a husband who hasn't visited or cared for his stricken wife and has "moved on" wouldn't be preferred here over that of distraught parents who beg for the right to nurse their daughter.
Reverence for life dominates Jewish tradition. The late Jewish philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz wrote vehemently against "so-called mercy killings. To whom are we showing mercy? To the unconscious patient who may sense nothing, or to ourselves, liberating us from the physical and emotional burden that the patient's continued existence causes?... If we accept the notion that under certain circumstances the taking of human life is no crime, we may find the world swarming with pitiful human creatures whose termination is desirable. We must not yield to the argument that death is better than some unfortunate individuals' lives."
It is indeed hard to imagine an Israeli court ruling like the one in Florida in a case such as Schiavo's. True, preserving life can sometimes risk prolonging suffering in a way that a patient would not choose. But our judicial system is right to be wary of an even greater danger, that of granting a license for the elimination of incapacitated people, especially on the say-so of people who can hardly be trusted to have the patients' best interests at heart. Whatever complaints we may have about our judiciary's inclination toward overreach, we must admit that here the Schiavo case would have likely evolved very differently.
Perhaps, it is because so many in Israel have long memories of the time when a state imposed death by starvation. And for the record; it was not pretty or even painless. The federal court has denied an appeal from Terri’s parents to have her feeding tube re-inserted. According to those judges who voted to allow Michael Schiavo to legally pursue the murder of his wife unhindered by the court; these words must ring particularly hollow:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Unless your Terri Schiavo. Then your only right - is the right to die.