Congratulations to the 71 British physicians who have recently made headlines for demanding that the World Medical Association (WMA) expel the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) from its ranks. Their baseless hatred and bizarre accusations – of Israeli physicians using medical knowledge to torture Arabs – would be too ridiculous to acknowledge if it weren’t part of a greater effort to delegitimize The Jewish State. As IMA representative Dr. Zeev Feldman responded, “The sword of the boycott has been raised against the scientific medical community in Israel.”

The WMA was founded in 1947 in the aftermath of World War II with the goals of “ensuring the independence of physicians” and promoting “the highest possible standards of ethical behavior and care by physicians.” The organization has since grown to include 111 national organizations of which only the Jewish State has been uniquely targeted by the scurrilous actions of anti-Israel advocates.

The sole identification of Israel for this abuse is particularly absurd given the nation’s reputation for providing disaster-stricken countries with emergency medical expertise and services. This has been well publicized following last year’s efforts in rescuing and treating victims of the Nepalese earthquake and other heroic actions such as the establishment of an advanced medical center for surgical procedures following the Japanese Tsunami of 2011. And it continues today with regular medical care of Syrian refugees.

If the field of academic medicine aims to build bridges between different cultures with the goals of furthering healthcare for all, Israeli physicians are certainly trailblazers. World-renowned Infectious Disease expert Dr. Eli Schwartz is known for his travels to Angola in order to treat UN troops and the care he provided for the leader of Eritrea. Opthalmology pioneer Dr. Saul Merin’s trips to Malawi in the 1960s later served as models for global health initiatives such as Doctors Without Borders and Partners in Health. Dr. Yoram Lass should also be mentioned for his dynamic work using recycled hemodialysis machines for industrial and agricultural purposes within developing African nations.

And for the sake of furthering cross-cultural dialogue through medicine, it will not be forgotten that Dr. Dan Kiesel served as the lead physician-trainer of the Pakistani National Cricket Team in spite of his heritage which caused an uproar amongst the Islamist branches of the government.

But for the 71 British physicians who seek to delegitimize Israel, no amount of loving-kindness or good deeds on the part of Israeli physicians will subdue their rage. One might wonder if these individuals are also boycotting the medical research of Israeli physicians including:

  • Dr. Bernhard Zondek’s work in developing the first reliable human pregnancy test
  • Dr. Zvi Laron’s revolutionary research in pediatric endocrinology and juvenile diabetes
  • Dr. Marcelle Machluf’s cutting-edge development of medical nano-technology
  • Drs. Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover’s research in cellular homeostasis which was awarded The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2004
  • Dr. David Danon’s pioneering efforts in the biology of aging
  • Dr. Arieh Shalev’s fundamental work in the field of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Having commemorated the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are reminded of his famous statement, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews…you’re talking anti-Semitism.” Or as I recently wrote in article about another academic boycott – from the American Anthropological Association and their intentionally-selective slander of the Jewish State – it doesn’t matter what the facts are, some people just hate Jews.

With their unscrupulous actions, these 71 British physicians have abandoned the WMA’s mission of promoting ethical behavior amongst doctors. In the end, they will be the ones who miss out as a result of their boycott calls. Through their bigotry, they have lost the opportunity to cooperate with top-notch colleagues engaged in life-saving research.