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December 23, 2015 7:10 am

Liberalism Run Amok: How Can Israel Treat Terrorists Before Victims?

avatar by Judith Bergman

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Paramedics at the scene of a stabbing attack. Photo: Hatzalah.

Paramedics at the scene of a stabbing attack. Photo: Hatzalah.

The Israeli Medical Association has reversed a 2008 decision mandating that doctors at the scene of a ‎terrorist attack treat victims before the terrorist, regardless of the severity of the attacker’s wounds. ‎

Only a week ago — in the midst of an unprecedented terror wave of stabbings and car rammings — a ‎change was suddenly made to the medical ethics regulations, literally out of the blue. The IMA Ethics Board’s guideline stipulated that “charity begins at home” — that is, in a case ‎where personnel or equipment are in short supply in a multi-casualty terrorist attack, the victims should ‎be treated before the terrorists. It was decided to eliminate that instruction and the only rule that ‎remains in place is the one that decrees that the wounded must be treated according to the severity of ‎their condition and ability to survive, and no other criteria. In practice, this means that the terrorist would ‎have to be treated before his victims, if it turns out that his wounds were more severe than theirs, which ‎is entirely feasible, if he has been shot by the IDF or an armed citizen.‎

The IMA not only made its decision without any prior public debate, but it clearly ‎sought to hide it from the public, which is even more troubling and sinister. ‎

Israel Hayom reported that the announcement about the revocation of the previous rule simply ‎appeared on the IMA’s website and that “the IMA was apparently concerned about ‎widespread political and ethical criticism of its decision.” ‎

The IMA has every reason to be concerned. Such a decision of life and death, taken behind the back of ‎the Israeli public and sneaked into policy by a mere announcement on a website is odious in itself. But it ‎gets worse. ‎

One has to ask oneself why the IMA decided to reverse this crucial guideline? Here is the reason in all its ‎tragic simplicity: In October, members of Physicians for Human Rights contacted IMA Chairman Dr. Leonid ‎Edelman and IMA Ethics Board Chairwoman Dr. Tami Karni. Their demand: Cancel the “charity begins at ‎home” clause in the regulations on treating terrorism victims. Physicians for Human Rights argued in a ‎letter that the organization was convinced that the principle went against the ethical principles that have guided the ‎medical community until now. Following the appeal by members of Physicians for Human Rights, the ‎Ethics Board held a discussion on Dec. 1. At its conclusion, a decision was taken to accede to the ‎organization’s request and cancel the “care for your own” clause entirely. According to Ethics Board ‎members, most members agreed with the decision. ‎

It is interesting that one appeal from a nongovernmental organization can reverse the policy on such a crucial question for an ‎entire nation just like that, isn’t it? Since Physicians for Human Rights wield such tremendous influence, ‎being able to sway the entire IMA Ethics Board, it is relevant to look in depth at who they are.‎

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel was founded in 1988 and claims to be “a nonprofit, nongovernmental ‎organization that strives to promote a more fair and inclusive society in which the right to health is applied ‎equally for all.” According to its mission statement, PHR-Israel strives to “put an end” to “Israel’s prolonged ‎occupation over Palestinian territory,” which it views as “the basis of human rights violations.” ‎

The organization has a budget of approximately 9.5 million shekels ($2.4 million) and it is funded by a number of pro-‎Palestinian international organizations that have nothing or little to do with medical issues (Bread for the ‎World, Human Rights and International Law Secretariat, Diakonia and others which are funded by ‎Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and the Netherlands). PHR-Israel is also ‎funded by the European Union, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and others. In January 2015, PHR-Israel ‎published “Gaza 2014: Finding of an independent medical fact-finding mission” which turned out to be yet ‎another Israel-bashing report, which NGO Monitor described as having “no independence, no facts, no ‎evidence.” ‎

What we have here is another clear-cut example of foreign and hostile governments and organizations ‎taking a shot at Israel by political warfare. This is just the latest tool in the toolbox of political warfare: ‎Medical warfare. ‎

While the resourcefulness of Israel’s enemies in searching for, aiming at and hitting our softest spots is ‎impressive in its mendacity, it is tragic to watch the ease with which they are enabled to succeed in their ‎most deceitful endeavors. This is warfare and those who wish to undermine Israeli society use all means ‎possible — including hitting our guidelines on saving our own citizens from terrorists.‎

What is astounding here is not that Israel’s enemies try with all means, but that they succeed with such ‎ease. How is it possible that the IMA did not question the origin of the request, ‎coming as it did from Physicians for Human Rights, a deeply hostile, leftist NGO with a clear agenda of ‎working for the undermining of Israel from within and with ample foreign funding? ‎

Why did not a single member of the IMA question the deeply suspect ‎timing of such a request — in the midst of a devastating terror wave? ‎

Why did no one in the IMA find it necessary to consult with the public or ‎at least members of the public with deep knowledge of an issue that might have ‎absolutely devastating consequences for terror victims if followed? ‎

The irresponsibility of the whole thing is mind-boggling and brings one to question whether members of the IMA Ethics Board are fit for the positions of extreme responsibility that they fill. ‎They simply served as a Trojan horse for the hostile intentions of the backers of Physicians for Human ‎Rights. ‎

Thankfully, the reversal has been met with harsh criticism and requests to reverse the decision. One such request ‎came from Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who heads the ethics division of the Tzohar rabbinical organization. ‎Cherlow knows the issue of medical ethics first-hand; he is a member of the Supreme Helsinki Committee ‎on Medical and Genetic Experiments Involving Human Subjects, and formerly served as the public’s ‎representative on the National Conference to Expand the Medical Basket. ‎

‎”The dramatic new instructions are a serious mistake,” Cherlow says. “The wounded at the scene of a ‎terrorist attack should always be treated first, and only then the attacker. Only in special cases, in which it ‎can’t be determined who the terrorist is and who the victims are, should medical treatment be given to ‎the most seriously wounded first.” ‎

According to Professor Asa Kasher, a renowned philosopher and ethicist who wrote the Israel Defense ‎Forces’ code of conduct, “The immediate example that comes to mind is the difference in battlefield ‎triage, which has to account for things beyond pure medical considerations, like sending soldiers back to ‎their units as quickly as possible. ‎

‎”The same goes for the scene of a terrorist attack. You can’t run it according to pure medical ‎considerations — that’s just out of the question. Say you have two people seriously wounded, the ‎terrorist and a victim. The terrorist’s wounds are slightly more serious than the victim’s. Would you treat ‎the terrorist before the victim? That’s unthinkable. There is more to the scene of a terrorist attack than ‎pure medical considerations — as there should be. What are we supposed to tell a victim’s family if he dies ‎because we treated the terrorist first? That we’re sorry, but we had no choice but to treat the terrorist ‎first? That’s absurd.”‎

ZAKA emergency response service Director Yehuda Meshi Zahav was outraged by the decision: ‎‎”We will instruct our volunteers to first treat injured Jewish victim, without thinking twice,” he said. ‎‎”And only after [will they treat] the terrorist murderer who carried out the attack. Despite the ethical ‎code which mandates the most injured victim be treated first, you must know morality has a limit. If we ‎will not keep our distinction, we will lose our direction. Even in Halachah, it is written: All who are merciful to ‎the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful.”‎

Not being merciful to the cruel is what our tradition teaches. Foreign-funded, hostile NGOs such as ‎Physicians for Human Rights must not be allowed to dictate life-and-death issues for Israeli citizens ‎through an unelected body such as the IMA. Everything possible should be done by ‎responsible Israeli authorities, if need be with the intervention of Knesset members, to reverse this ‎shameful decision.‎

Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel.

This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • A Zionist

    PHR-I is an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist NGO whose political advocacy shows little concern about Israelis. In 2009, Dr. Yoram Blachar, president of the World Medical Association, called PHR-I “a radical political group disguised as a medical organization.”

    Founded in 1988 by Dr. Ruchama Marton, Physicians for Human Rights- Israel (PHR-I) claims to be “a non-profit, non-governmental organization that strives to promote a more fair and inclusive society in which the right to health is applied equally for all.” (PHR-I is not formally affiliated with the U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights).
    According to its mission statement, PHR-I strives to “put an end” to “Israel’s prolonged occupation over Palestinian territory,” which it views as “the basis of human rights violations.”
    While using the name “Physicians,” half of the 1,500 claimed members and a number of key staff are not medical professionals.

    Claims to be “a leader in ongoing campaigns against torture, summary executions, arbitrary (administrative) detentions, and solitary confinement in [Israeli] prisons” and play a “central role in the struggle of human rights organizations against torture in detention facilities in Israel, particularly against physicians’ participation in the torture of Palestinian detainees by failing to prevent and/or report torture.”

    In 2009, PHR-I’s highly biased political agenda led the Israel Medical Association to halt cooperative activities, and elicited the condemnations of Dr. Yoram Blachar, president of the World Medical Association, who called PHR-I “a radical political group disguised as a medical organization.”
    PHR-I’s “Occupied Palestinian Territory Department,” which has operated since the organization’s establishment, seeks to take “action against road blocks set inside the occupied Palestinian territory, the separation barrier and other restrictive measures which place physical and bureaucratic barriers between individuals and access to medical care.”
    October 2011 publication “Doctoring the Evidence, Abandoning the Victim,” co-authored by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), accused Israeli doctors and institutions of involvement in the “torture and ill-treatment” of Palestinians. Many of the claims were based on unverifiable allegations. The Israel Medical Association denounced the highly selective publication for erasing important details. Based on faulty methodology, the PHR-I asserted that Israeli security officers “routinely employ interrogation methods which amount to torture and ill-treatment” and that “medical professionals are frequently involved either actively or passively in torture or ill-treatment.” Lexical or legal definitions for “torture” and “ill-treatment” are not provided and used inconsistently. Detailed analysis of the sweeping claims demonstrates deeply flawed research – the evidence consists of unverifiable claims by the detainees themselves and not assessments conducted by medically trained observers; some of the suspects were later convicted on terror charges. These basic flaws notwithstanding, the report threatens the Israeli medical community with prosecution in international forums, warning that medical personnel “may find themselves responsible for aiding and abetting the crime of torture.”
    \he report was funded by: Belgian Embassy in Tel Aviv; Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Royal Danish Representative Office to the PA, the Swedish International Development Cooperation (SIDA), The Netherlands Representative Office to the PA channeled through the NGO Development Center (NDC); The Sigrid Rausing Trust (UK); British Shalom Salaam Trust (UK); United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture; AECID (Spain); Diakonia (Sweden); EPER HEKS (Switzerland); EED (Germany); Medico International (Germany), Cordaid (Holland); Haella (Holland); Humanitair Fonds (Holland); ICCO (Holland); Sivmo (Holland); Kios (Finland); New Israel Fund; The Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (Denmark).


    There’s a well known phrase from the Torah (I believe): Those who are kind to the cruel, will be cruel to the kind.

    This type of errant thinking by the IMA is an excellent example of what that phrase means.

    We need to fully ignore this type of foolishness.

  • jim39

    Jews invented a religion of guilt which is a Janus…bad and wrong. Too much guilt drives to Moral Masochism and Jews are of the Best ones in that matter.
    Why should it change in Israel….?
    Jews as an Ill people and Messianic-Nationalist in a Basic contradiction….aren’t anti semitic arguments but an amazing reality
    A Sense of Tragedy.
    Brauman (MSF) is an example of that crazy Good Will against yourself…

  • I wonder what those medical marvels will say when it is their wife or children lying bleeding out on the ground! Somehow I think they will all of a sudden have a change of heart . . . that is if they have one to change.

  • Michael Garfinkel

    During the invasion of Normandy, supplies of penicillin were limited, and were used first in the treatment of allied casualties, and only later were made available for the treatment of wounded German prisoners.

    But in those days, people were clear-headed and knew how to win a war.

  • steven L

    PHR is as good as Medecins sans frontieres: antisemitic both.

  • steven L

    This is exactly what moral relativism is about. A failure of owning ETHICAL VALUES.

  • The Israeli Medical Association must allow emergency responders to treat victims of terrorist attacks, first. Israel’s culture of life supersedes the PLO terrorist entity’s culture of death. And not treating terrorist victims, first is immoral, indeed.

  • Carol


    This needs to be fought against at every level! If every paramedic or EMT refuses to go along with this, what will the government do? Imprison them? Who will step in to fill their shoes?

    This also provides an excellent reason to finish killing the terrorists before they can be treated. And I hope if this madness continues, that is exactly what will be done.

  • ART

    How obscene, the IMA will finish the terrorists work. The victim MUST be treated first.
    Israel must also end the interference with its government and society by hostile outside organizations.

  • Sam Harris

    Yes, send them off to Iran.

  • Atilla

    I would hope that ALL medical personnel will ignore this
    “ruling” and use common sense.

    Well, maybe hasten the terrorist filth’s journey to martyrdom……

  • Aaron

    Yet another Liberal travesty. PHR should be banished from Israel as an agent of hostile foreign powers.