‘Scientific American’: A Publishing Home for Anti-Israel Hate and Propaganda
Over the past two years, Scientific American has published a series of biased attacks on Israel, even accusing Israel of “vaccine apartheid and medical apartheid.” Such actions are not surprising considering that in 2021, a Senior Editor at Scientific American tweeted that “Israel is an apartheid state and Zionism is white supremacy. #FreePalestine.”
As I wrote last week in The Algemeiner, a June 2, 2021, column — titled “As Health Care Workers, We Stand in Solidarity with Palestine” — was removed from the Scientific American website just hours after the publisher received a letter signed by more than 106 scientists and physicians, including three Nobel Laureates.
The letter criticized Scientific American editors for publishing “one-sided political propaganda,” ignoring “easily verified facts,” and covering “important historical and political issues superficially, inaccurately, and prejudicially.” A full text of the now removed column is available here.
This latest incident at Scientific American is not the first evidence of their unbalanced, anti-Israel bias. In an April 7, 2021, Scientific American column, Steven W. Thrasher argued, “Vulnerable populations are often denied vaccines … For instance, Israel has not distributed vaccines to Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” Thrasher did not mention that the Oslo Accords call for the Palestinian Authority to provide healthcare and vaccinations to its people, or that Palestinians turned down Israeli vaccinations.
In 2019, Thrasher made news when he was accused of antisemitism for praising the BDS movement and for referring to Israel as an “apartheid state.”
In 2018, Thrasher compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis’ treatment of “Jews, homosexuals & the disabled.”
The US Department of State explains that one example of antisemitism is “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
In 2020, Scientific American published a column titled “When Scientists Become Political Dissenters” by a group of seven authors who attacked Israel for detaining the Palestinian astrophysicist Imad Barghouthi. The authors accused Israel of “juridical harassment” and of depriving Barghouthi of “academic freedom.”
The authors did not mention The Times of Israel report detailing that Barghouthi is a “vocal supporter of Hamas’s military wing … and their terror activities, including the firing of rockets at Israeli cities.”
At least four of the seven co-authors of this Scientific American column are active leaders in the anti-Israel BDS movement. For example, the first listed author, Ahmed Abbes, is a coordinator of the Tunisian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel. Abbes has a long history of anti-Israel activism, including writing for Mondoweiss — a publication that has been referred to in The Washington Post as “a hate site” and “one-stop shopping for anti-Israel news.”
On June 4, 2021, Scientific American published a column titled “A New Mental Health Crisis Is Raging in Gaza” authored by Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. This column looks at the mental health of Palestinians in Gaza, while ignoring the mental health of Israelis who are forced to endure thousands of rockets, incendiary devices, and terror tunnels used to attack Israel from Gaza.
In the column, Abu Jamei is highly critical of Israel — but does not criticize Hamas for starting and maintaining the recent war by launching thousands of rockets and incendiary devices at Israel. Abu Jamei does not even mention Hamas or the dismal leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Perhaps that’s not surprising since — as documented in a scathing report by Human Rights Watch — criticizing the Palestinian leadership would likely result in being tortured by Hamas or the PA.
In 2021, Scientific American Senior Editor Sunya Arshad Bhutta tweeted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — which is widely viewed as a call for the erasure of Israel. In June 2021, Bhutta retweeted, “the united states has caused significantly more terror worldwide than the taliban and hamas combined … it’s a fact.”
Scientific American’s Editor-in-Chief, Laura Helmuth, tweeted in 2015, “Not looking forward to this: Congress invites [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu to another lovefest. Bibi, shut up.”
The venerable and widely-read Scientific American has become a publishing home for anti-Israel hate and propaganda. The board at Scientific American should investigate this serious issue, and decide if Laura Helmuth should continue in her role as Editor-in-Chief.
Peter Reitzes is a board member of Voice4Israel of North Carolina and writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.