A demonstrator wears a shirt reading 'Boycott Israel' [File].
(photo credit: AFP/ MOHD RASFAN)
Congratulations to the 71 British physicians who recently made headlines for demanding that the World Medical Association (WMA) expel the Israel 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.
Ze’ev 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.
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 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 among the Islamist branches of the government.
But for the 71 British physicians who seek to delegitimize the Jewish state, 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 appropriately 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.
This current group of 71 British physicians can join a long list of other angry folks who hate the Jewish people for who no other reason beyond that they are Jews. May they be unpleasantly surprised to discover that we aren’t disappearing anytime soon.
The author is a board-certified psychiatrist practicing in Boston, Massachusetts, and an associate professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. In addition to his work as a clinical psychiatrist, Dr. Freedman has worked as a healthcare and a risk-management consultant.