click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Bitter Medicine

Bitter Medicine

Israel-bashing in medical journals.


Two reputable medical journals recently allowed crude anti-Israel propaganda to masquerade on their pages as legitimate academic discourse:

1) The British Medical Journal – hailed by the Financial Times as 'one of the world's top four general medical journals' – included in its Oct. 16 issue an article entitled 'Palestine: The assault on health and other war crimes.' The author, Dr. Derrick Summerfield, compares the IDF's acts to those of the 9/11 terrorist hijackers:

The Israeli army, with utter impunity, has killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on September 11, 2001.

The only actual similarity between the two is the death count – approximately 3,000. Summerfield labels all Palestinian casualties 'unarmed civilians' – denying the fact that (1) the clear majority of Palestinians who have died since September 2000 were terrorists and armed combatants (according to the Institute for Counter-Terrorism), and (2) no Palestinian civilian has been deliberately killed 'with impunity' – in stark contrast to 9/11.

Summerfield goes on claim that since some Palestinian minors have died from wounds to the upper body and head:

Clearly, soldiers are routinely authorised to shoot to kill children in situations of minimal or no threat.

Beyond falsely branding Israel as guilty of 'war crimes,' deliberate child-killing, illegal colonization and apartheid, the article makes absolutely no mention of how Palestinian terror and political corruption have contributed to the unfortunate state of the Palestinian heath system.

If you agree this article is inappropriate for a respected medical journal, send comments to British Medical Journal editor Kamran Abbasi: click here

2) The June 2004 edition of Diabetes Voice, a quarterly publication of the International Diabetes Federation, included a report on that disease in the Gaza Strip. Here's the abstract, which appeared in bold print at the top of the article:

The year 2003 marked the 55th anniversary of the Nakba (cataclysm) of the Palestinian people. In 1948, according to the United Nations Conciliation Commission, 760,000 Palestinians were evicted from their cities and villages, hundreds of which were razed to the ground. What remains of the Palestinian people's land is now split between the West Bank of the river Jordan and Qita Ghazzah (Gaza Strip), and remains occupied by Israeli military forces and settlers. In 2003, the second uprising, or Al-Aqsa Intifada against this occupation entered its third year. Panagiotis Tsapogas, Medical Co-ordinator of the Greek section of Mdecins Sans Frontires (Doctors Without Borders) in Gaza, 2002-2003, reports on the difficulties faced by Palestinian people with diabetes in Gaza, and makes a call for the provision of improved diabetes care in the region.

NGO-Monitor, which promotes accountability of non-governmental organizations active in the Mideast conflict, responded:

This short abstract consists of a blatantly political attack that has little or nothing to do with diabetes. The one-sided and highly distorted version of history that is presented is based on the Palestinian version of events and vocabulary, and immorally ignores the brutality of Palestinian terrorism. It is also entirely inconsistent with the goals proclaimed by Diabetes Voice, the International Diabetes Federation, and Medecins Sans Frontires.

The International Diabetes Federation (known, ironically, as the IDF) published an official apology for the abstract quoted above, and the editor-in chief of the journal resigned over the matter. The abstract was re-written for the publication's archived, website version of the article.

Not only medical journals have contributed to this disturbing trend of inserting anti-Israel rhetoric into ostensibly neutral academic literature.

Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors, included an update on Palestinian universities in its Sept.-Oct. 2004 issue (see it here - scroll down to the grey box). While lamenting the 'infamous 'segregation wall'' and roadblocks that limit access to Palestinian schools, author Mary Gray cites Ramallah's BirZeit University as an example.

Gray gives no explanation whatsoever why Israel implemented these strictures – to deny terrorists free access to Israel. Moreover, Gray ignores the fact that BirZeit is one of the very centers of Palestinian incitement to terror -- Hamas won a recent student body election there by featuring exploding models of Israeli buses and claims of prowess based on its success in killing more Israelis than the other parties.

If you agree that this review of the state of Palestinian higher education lacked appropriate balance, send comments to Academe:

October 23, 2004

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 4

(4) Matthew, October 27, 2004 12:00 AM

When peace will arrive

For all of the years that fighting and terrorism have taken place in the Middle East, it is clear that the only time Peace will arrive is when both sides decide that they've "had enough" of the fighting, bloodshed, and other horrors that have gone along the situation.
When children are being transported to schools, while at the same time wondering if their bus will arrive safely, or fall victim to another terrorist attack, THAT is bad.
When adults are sorely concerned that their children may not have the opportunity to grow to adulthood, THAT is bad.
When human life becomes worthless, as seems to happen in some locales, THAT is also bad.
All parties will have to come to the conference table, and be willing to make peace. Sometimes, it will mean simply deciding that there will be no killing...TODAY! And then do the same thing the next day...and the day after...and so forth. That's one way to at least start the process of obtaining peace.
It is quite possible that all sides may have to give up something, somewhere along the way. FINE. DO IT! Living in peace and harmony is worth the price.

Until they agree to that, there will never be peace in the Middle East, and the "cradle of civilization" may well turn out to be it's grave, too.

(3) Beverly Kurtin, Ph.D., October 27, 2004 12:00 AM

The price of truth

Heaven forbid that people like Mary Gray should ever see the truth; it would destroy them. These self-righteous "academics" who puff themselves up without the slightest concern for the truth reveal their true identities: Anti-Semites of the first degree.

Ms. Gray might flinch at that appellation, but there it is in her own smug pronouncements that Israel has a "segregation barrier" failing to bother about asking, as a true academic must, why the fence had to be built in the first place and what it is truly about.

She glibly denounces the destruction of olive groves without mentioning, again, why they had to be uprooted. Does she not have any sense of how important trees are to Israel and to the Jewish soul? Why would Israelis destroy a tree? Surely not to protect themselves from Arabs who find no shame in shooting unarmed civilians from the cover of those trees.
I've lived in academia and have learned first hand that most academics are open to all points of view. I have a deep respect for true academics. We need them; they contribute more to society than any of us can imagine. However, the Mary Grays who masquerade as academics deserve not our contempt, they deserve our ridicule. "Academics" like her, if exposed to truth, shrivel up and die as roaches die in the presence of poison.

Is this really a polemic attack on her? Nope. It is as accurate a description of her as is her description of the Arab-Israeli situation.

(2) Catherine, October 25, 2004 12:00 AM

South African comment on Apartheid vs Middle East

I am South African. I think I understand Apartheid more readilly than a European/American.... no parallel can be drawn between Apartheid and the Middle East conflict and I would like to suggest that The reference to Aprtheid be used responsibly, i.e. by those who fully understand what it entailed. This movement was a deliberate race based issue targeting the natives of this land - whose land was SNATCHED from them (not bought at a price), during the struggle for liberation unlike Israel the ANC did not strap bombs on their Youth and target civilian. Current Land Reform projects aim to redistribute land at no cost to the original owners (descendants thereof) ... unlike Israel purchasing land. Furthermore ... we have Mandela who offered peace and prosperity and paved the way for a rainbow nation, Israel is under constant threat from a fraction who have publically declared there objective to destory Israel.

(1) Joan k. Betesh, October 24, 2004 12:00 AM

Protect Israel in the medical community

Neither Presidential candidate can help Israel long-term if there is anti-Israel sentiment overwhelms Europe.

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment