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AntiSemetism in the Medical World

Written by  Dr. Benjamin Sachs  Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproduction Biology at the Harvard Medical School.  

He recently led a medical mission to Israel, sponsored by the Combined Jewish  Philanthropies of Boston and the Hadassah Medical Organization and Hadassah.

 Beleaguered Israeli doctors now have to fend off mindless attacks from their  scientific colleagues, particularly in Europe.  It's bad enough that Israeli doctors are spending   their lives in emergency  rooms treating Jewish and Arab victims of suicide bombers. What really  makes  them heartsick these days, however, is that they also have to fend off  mindless attacks from their scientific colleagues, particularly in Europe.That was the most gut-wrenching impression I returned with after a recent  trip to Israel along with 70 other senior physicians from across America.  We had gone to bolster the spirits of our Israeli  colleagues, exhausted and bewildered from two years of the relentless experience of treating victims  of terror.   We arrived at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where some 2,000 victims have been treated, less than 24 hours after a particularly horrific bus bombing in Jerusalem. Hours earlier, teams ofJewish-Arab doctors had done what they've done for the past two years: jumped into action to save the lives of the critically injured.

     On Israeli television the night before, the father of the homicidal bomber bragged that he was proud of his son who had attacked a busload of schoolchildren and senior citizens. On the day we  arrived, that same father  suffered chest pains and was brought to Hadassah. He was seen by the same
doctors who were still treating the victims of his son's madness.
     The humanitarian approach to medicine of our colleagues in Israel stands in stark contrast to actions recently taken by our European colleagues. In  Britain and Norway, countries we Americans  generally feel are kindred to our way of life, university professors and scientific researchers have recently refused to share research  information with Israel's academics and physicians because they oppose Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.
     The head of Hadassah's gene therapy institute,  Dr. Eitan Galun, an Israeli Jew, has been engaged in research to cure a blood disease prevalent in the  Palestinian community. He recently requested assistance from a Norwegian scientist and was refused. "Due to the present situation in the Middle East, I will not deliver any material to an Israeli university," she responded by e-mail.
     By her actions, which confuse science with politics, the Palestinian population will needlessly continue to suffer from a disease that could be cured through scientific cooperation.
     Also recently, two Israeli academics were dismissed from the boards of scholarly linguistics journals. The first, Miriam Shlesinger, a senior lecturer in translation studies at Bar-Ilan University, was removed from the editorial board of the Translator Studies in Intercultural Communication.  The second, Gideon Toury, a professor at Tel Aviv
> University's School of Cultural Studies, was dismissed from the international advisory board of Translation Studies Abstracts.
     Mona Baker, a University of Manchester academic who has circulated a petition calling for a moratorium on grants and contracts with research institutions in Israel, owns both publications.
     These examples dramatically demonstrate an  unacceptable breakdown in the  international norms of intellectual freedom and collaboration.
     Our colleagues in Israel do not mix science and
politics; our colleagues in Europe should know better than to do so. Using Israel's political situation
as a reason to withhold collaborative information is
a smokescreen. Moreover, it is a symptom of that chronic European disease, anti-Semitism, which now
hides behind anti-Israel rhetoric.
     Israel is criticized for human rights violations as
it tries to protect its citizens. Yet it is the only country in the Middle East with a free press and an independent judiciary, and all its citizens -- men and women, whether Jew, Muslim or Christian -- have the right to vote.
     It's high time for the courageous and intellectually
honest among our  European colleagues to make a stand against their region's particular brand of bigotry. It is past time for doctors and scientists to first heal themselves and then immunize Europe against this centuries-old  scourge.
     The medical community in Israel truly reflects the  words of the prophet  Malachi 2:10: "Have we not one father hath not one God  created us, wherefore
shall we deal treacherously with each other.  Profaning the covenant of our fathers."
     It's time for our colleagues in Europe to recognize
this and act accordingly.      Pass this on to your email list. Allow others to read this condemnation of European medical organizations.

(Received by Avigdor Bar-Hai,         05.05.2002)