Seventy-one doctors in the United Kingdom have joined 343 academics calling for a ban on doctors from Israel and joint projects with Israeli universities, according to the Jerusalem Post. The U.K. doctors were reported to have submitted a letter to the World Medical Association asking for the expulsion of the Israeli Medical Association.
At a meeting of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee, Dr. Zeev Feldman, the chairman of the Israeli Medical Association, was said to report the receipt of the letter written by the U.K. doctors, which was reported to include claims that Israelis have engaged in “medical torture” on Palestinians. The chairman called the accusations “lies.”
In 2000, Israel was accused of unethically harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians captured in combat by Dr. Yehuda Hiss, who formerly led the Israeli forensic institute Abu Kabir, as reported by the Guardian in 2009. More recently, Israel has denied, and renounced as “anti-Semtic,” allegations that Israeli doctors, members of the Israeli Medical Association, had “recently harvested” the organs of Palestinians, according to Reuters.
In the 1990s, doctors at the institute were reported to have harvested eyes, skin, bones, and heart valves from the bodies of Israelis, both civilians and soldiers, as well as Palestinians, often with no permission from family members.
Dr. Feldman stated that if the World Medical Association were to institute such a ban that the effects could quickly spread in a “domino effect” to other scientific institutions in the country. On Friday, members of the American Anthropological Association were reported to have voted 1,040-36 in favor of stopping all work with Israeli academic institutions, as reported by the Jerusalem Post. Close to 10,000 members of the society will vote again in April, when a final referendum will decide the group’s formal policy.
The American Anthropological Association was reported to describe Israeli academics as “apartheid universities,” according to Professor Peretz Lavie, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology president and the Israeli Association of University Heads chairman. The professor spoke of a need for Israel to reach “all 12,000 members” of the American Anthropological Association.
Professor Zvi Ziegler, with the Technion and the head of a forum organized by Association of University Heads to examine and put an end to Israeli academic boycotts, stated that he is “very worried” about the future of the scientific community and academia in Israel. Ziegler stated that he believes that a “covert” boycott is already in place, but that it has remained “below the surface” because it has yet to be fully legitimized by organizations, such as the American Anthropological Association or the World Medical Association.
A boycott of Israelis by the World Medical Association would stop researchers from attending professional conferences, publishing findings in journals, and prevent doctors from joining other associations. It would also prevent Israeli researchers from receiving funding.
The chairman of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee panel, Uri Maklev, was said to have encouraged the Israeli government to form a “central body” to oversee efforts to put an end to moves to boycott Israeli academic and scientific institutions.
In December, Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon rejected claims made by Riyad Mansour, the lead Palestinian delegate with the United Nations, that the bodies of soldiers, killed in fighting in the fall of 2015, had been returned “missing corneas and other organs.” Mansour was said to state that the incident confirmed “past reports” about the harvesting of body parts.
Danny Danon was reported to describe the Palestinian allegations as “blood libel” and as being “sinister.” The Israeli ambassador called on the United Nations to condemn the “ongoing indictment” and repudiate the organ harvesting accusations.
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