Anti-Israel Bias Infects Medical Journals

As all doctors know, untreated gangrene in a single limb can spread quickly through the body and lead to death. The most effective way to halt the progress of gangrene is to cut off the corrupting limb, a necessary sacrifice for the greater good.

As with bodies, so with scientific credibility.

As Phyllis Chesler informed us in these pages on January 24, Lancet, once an impeccable source for authoritative medical research, has in recent years become more and more “Palestinianized.” In the just-published article she cites, “Association between exposure to political violence and intimate-partner violence in the occupied Palestinian territory: a cross-sectional study,” Palestinian husbands were found to be more violent towards their wives as a function of the Israeli “occupation” -- “and … the violence increases significantly when the husbands are ‘directly’ as opposed to ‘indirectly’ exposed to political violence.”

Very clever. Being a Palestinian means you get to beat your wife without having to say you’re sorry, because, hey, it’s too bad about all those bruises, but the Israelis made me do it! That the statistics were gathered and the study was funded by the Palestinian Authority should have been a clue to its lack of objectivity. This is propaganda, not research.

It isn’t only Lancet, though. Editorial views in the prestigious British Medical Journal and the Journal of the Royal College of Physicians (recently renamed Clinical Medicine) have revealed a similar pattern of anti-Israel bias.

In the February 2009 issue of Commentary (requires a login), an official organ of the Royal College of Physicians of London, for example, an inflammatory “special” article erroneously claims, amongst other falsehoods, that Palestinian physicians were prevented from traveling abroad for training and conferences. This was especially galling to Israeli medical professionals because, as Hebrew University Professor Oded Abramsky wrote in an open letter to the Royal College of Physicians: “The level of cooperation between Israeli and Gazan hospitals and medical personnel and the cross-border treatment of the ill and wounded is without question greater than between any two other entities in the world who are nominally (and sometimes actively) at war. Therefore, please keep medicine and politics separate, for the good of all, as we try to do in Israel.” An apology by the journal was later (grudgingly) issued.

To prove that bias amongst British medical research elites is systemic rather than random, a group of Israeli medical academics, led by Prof. Yehuda Shoenfeld, editor-in-chief of the Israeli Medical Association Journal, assessed coverage of conflict-related deaths around the world.

Their study analyzed citations in the British Medical Journal, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association, finding that: for Europeans killing Europeans (Bosnia), there was one citation for every 2,000 deaths; for Africans killing Africans (Rwanda), one citation for every 4,000 deaths; for Arabs killing black Africans (Darfur), one citation for every 7,000 deaths; for Arab Muslims killing Kurds, no citation whatsoever; yet, for Israelis killing Palestinians, one citation for every 13 deaths.