World Medical Association affirms trust in Israeli doctors in response to BDS campaign

Organization’s president writes the Simon Wiesenthal Center, following a call by a group 71 British doctors to expel the Israeli Medical Association over accusations of “medical torture.”

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January 29, 2016 00:13
3 minute read.
israel doctors

Israeli doctors perform heart surgery on a baby from Gaza, at Wolfson Hospital near Tel Aviv . (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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The World Medical Association has reaffirmed its faith in the Israeli medical system following efforts by British doctors to have the Jewish state expelled from the international organization.

“We have trust that our Israeli colleagues will stand firm on our values and the protection of human rights,” the organization’s president wrote the Simon Wiesenthal Center on Monday, following a call by a group of 71 British doctors to expel the Israeli Medical Association over accusations that Israeli doctors carried out “medical torture” on Palestinian patients.

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The doctors’ letter, asserted Dr. Zeev Feldman, chairman of the Israeli Medical Association World Fellowship, in testimony before the Knesset last week, was just one effort in a consistent and organized campaign against Israeli institutions and scientists.

“We are in a struggle. Everyone must understand that there is an organized struggle – a fight against academia, doctors and other Israeli bodies,” he said.

“Our stance is that these accusations are lies, and we are engaged in a dialogue with the World Medical Association and we will bring forth the facts, and I hope that it will be enough to [persuade the association to] reject this request,” he said.

Following that discussion, Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations, wrote to WMA president Sir Michael Marmot stating that it was “inconceivable to discriminate against the State of the Jewish victims and survivors” given that the birth of the medical organization came during the aftermath of the Second World War, when “Nazi doctors and nurses committed inhuman experiments on children, exterminated the handicapped and murdered over six million Jews and countless others.”

“An unannounced visit to the hospitals of Israel – and especially Hadassah in Jerusalem – will show Arab doctors treating Jewish children and Jewish medical teams administering to Arab patients from across the Middle East, even from countries intent upon their destruction,” Samuels wrote, urging Marmot to “resist attempts to distort the WMA purpose.”

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In response, Marmot stated that as per WMA policy, the allegations made against Israel had been sent to the IMA for response.

“The main authors of the letter have launched several attacks against the Israeli Medical Association with similar arguments in the past. On each occasion, the WMA has asked the Israeli Medical Association to respond. Investigations have revealed no wrongdoing or mishandling of the cases by the Israeli Medical Association,” he wrote.

“We have trust that our Israeli colleagues will stand firm on our values and the protection of human rights. They have repeatedly affirmed their commitment to the policies and positions taken by the WMA. We know about their engagement against the current forced feeding legislation in line with our policy as well as their continuing education and support for doctors working with prisoners.”

According to Marmot, a request to exclude Israel for the WMA would require a formal procedure by a constituent member and, thus far, no members have requested such a move.

The IMA’s ethics committee is opposed to the forced-feeding of hunger strikers and the former chairman of the committee, Dr. Avinoam Reches, has gone as far as to say that it constitutes torture.

In July, the Knesset passed a law allowing the forced-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners if their lives are in danger.

Under the law, the forced-feeding must be approved by a judge who is a district court president, and a doctor cannot be forced to apply the treatment.

The judge must seek counsel from an ethics committee before issuing his decision.

Lidar Gravé-Lazi and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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