(photo credit: Courtesy Soroka University Medical Center)
A leading geneticist at Soroka University Medical Center and Ben-Gurion
University in Beersheba appeared in Qatar on the Doha Debates TV program over
the weekend that was dedicated to the subject of consanguinity – inbreeding by
first cousins that causes genetic disorders in the Arab population.
Ohad Birk, head of Soroka’s genetic institute and of the Morris Kahn Laboratory
of Human Genetics at the National Institute for Biotechnology in the Negev, was
invited to appear as a leading expert on the phenomenon, which medical experts
and some Arab leaders are trying to prevent due to the human suffering involved.
The program was broadcast by the BBC World News several times over the
The Doha Debates
program, hosted by Tim Sebastian, deals with
two sides of a controversial issue. Sebastian previously hosted the
prize-winning interview show Hard Talk
The debate show is broadcast from
the capital of Qatar to some 400 million viewers around the world, with
participation by the BBC and leading Arab networks. It tackles many issues, but
especially those that interest the Arab world.
Birk, who was presented as
an Israeli geneticist, noted that he was initially worried about traveling to
the Persian Gulf Arab state north of Saudi Arabia, but that his concerns
evaporated as he was treated very warmly by the production staff and by the live
audience from various Arab countries who filled the hall. At the end of the
debate, 80 percent of those present voted in favor of discouraging inbreeding by
Israel’s cable networks broadcast the show on Saturday
and Sunday as well.