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Immunizing Science Against Bigotry

Immunizing Science Against Bigotry

Beleaguered Israeli doctors now have to fend off mindless attacks from their scientific colleagues, particularly in Europe.


It's bad enough that Israeli doctors are spending their lives in emergency rooms treating Jewish and Arab victims of suicide bombers. What really makes them heartsick these days, however, is that they also have to fend off mindless attacks from their scientific colleagues, particularly in Europe.

That was the most gut-wrenching impression I returned with after a recent trip to Israel along with 70 other senior physicians from across America. We had gone to bolster the spirits of our Israeli colleagues, exhausted and bewildered from two years of the relentless experience of treating victims of terror.

We arrived at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where some 2,000 victims have been treated, less than 24 hours after a particularly horrific bus bombing in Jerusalem. Hours earlier, teams of Jewish-Arab doctors had done what they've done for the past two years: jumped into action to save the lives of the critically injured.

On Israeli television the night before, the father of the homicidal bomber bragged that he was proud of his son who had attacked a busload of schoolchildren and senior citizens. On the day we arrived, that same father suffered chest pains and was brought to Hadassah. He was seen by the same doctors who were still treating the victims of his son's madness.

The humanitarian approach to medicine of our colleagues in Israel stands in stark contrast to actions recently taken by our European colleagues. In Britain and Norway, countries we Americans generally feel are kindred to our way of life, university professors and scientific researchers have recently refused to share research information with Israel's academics and physicians because they oppose Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.

The head of Hadassah's gene therapy institute, Dr. Eitan Galun, an Israeli Jew, has been engaged in research to cure a blood disease prevalent in the Palestinian community. He recently requested assistance from a Norwegian scientist and was refused.

"Due to the present situation in the Middle East, I will not deliver any material to an Israeli university," she responded by e-mail.

By her actions, which confuse science with politics, the Palestinian population will needlessly continue to suffer from a disease that could be cured through scientific cooperation.

Also recently, two Israeli academics were dismissed from the boards of scholarly linguistics journals. The first, Miriam Shlesinger, a senior lecturer in translation studies at Bar-Ilan University, was removed from the editorial board of the Translator: Studies in Intercultural Communication.

Using Israel's political situation as a reason to withhold collaborative information is a symptom of that chronic European disease, anti-Semitism, which now hides behind anti-Israel rhetoric.

The second, Gideon Toury, a professor at Tel Aviv University's School of Cultural Studies, was dismissed from the international advisory board of Translation Studies Abstracts. Mona Baker, a University of Manchester academic who has circulated a petition calling for a moratorium on grants and contracts with research institutions in Israel, owns both publications.

These examples dramatically demonstrate an unacceptable breakdown in the international norms of intellectual freedom and collaboration.

Our colleagues in Israel do not mix science and politics; our colleagues in Europe should know better than to do so. Using Israel's political situation as a reason to withhold collaborative information is a smokescreen. Moreover, it is a symptom of that chronic European disease, anti-Semitism, which now hides behind anti-Israel rhetoric.

Israel is criticized for human rights violations as it tries to protect its citizens. Yet it is the only country in the Middle East with a free press and an independent judiciary, and all its citizens -- men and women, whether Jew, Muslim or Christian -- have the right to vote.

It's high time for the courageous and intellectually honest among our European colleagues to make a stand against their region's particular brand of bigotry. It is past time for doctors and scientists to first heal themselves and then immunize Europe against this centuries-old scourge.

The medical community in Israel truly reflects the words of the prophet Malachi 2:10: "Have we not one father hath not one God created us, wherefore shall we deal treacherously with each other. Profaning the covenant of our fathers."

It's time for our colleagues in Europe to recognize this and act accordingly.

January 25, 2003

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Visitor Comments: 15

(15) Brent Ryder, April 10, 2003 12:00 AM

People need to stand against anti - semitism

It is heartbreaking to see and hear the vicious anti semitism being displayed in "intellectual circles" in Europe and also, shamefully here in Canada. There little difference between the rioting mobs protesting against having Bernard Lewis or Benjamin Netanyahu speak at a Canadian university, and smooth academics who exclude Israeli doctors to make a political statement. We need to speak out boldly against those who seek to muzzle all dialog and debate.

(14) Anonymous, February 19, 2003 12:00 AM

What, anti-semitism?

Just because doctors and scientists from Europe don't want to help Israeli doctors, that doesn't mean they are anti-semitic. Israel is quick to jump on the anti-semitic band wagon just because somebody doesn't agree with their policies. Most of the anti-semitism in Europe and other places today is largely due to Israeli policies towards the Palestinians. To reduce this they must end the unjust persecution they have set on the Palestinians.

(13) Diane Dichter-Byers, February 4, 2003 12:00 AM

All life is sacred

Wasn't it Dr. Mudd, who treated John Wilks Booth, the infamous assassin of President Abraham Lincoln in the United States, at the end of the Civil War, and was hanged for rendering medical aid. That's what medical professionals are sworn to do. I myself am a nurse. I consider it a sacred calling, a sacred trust if you will. I use my hands and skills for "G-d" by what ever name you call Him. I will save the life of my worst enemy, to honor G-d. Diane

(12) Ilbert A. Phillips, January 28, 2003 12:00 AM

I agree with the author

It is ironic that Europeans claim they want to help Palestinians, but refuse to assist Israeli doctors who are looking for cures that will assist the Palestinians. Typical anti-semetic nonsense.

(11) Eva Schultz, January 28, 2003 12:00 AM

These people are disgusting!

The treatment reported here from people who think of themselves as the educated elete is disgusting. You can tell they listen to only the managed news that is given out in order to manage the masses . In the alternate news, not found floating around every where, you have to dig for, on the web as far as I can see, Starting with Webnetdaily. Use your common sense as you search through real history not immagined, subjective matter that has been dreamed up by crass prople throwing their weight around. Disgusting!

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