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October 31, 2023 11:11 am

British Medical Journal Ignores Hamas, Demonizes Jewish State; Authors Have History of Hate

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avatar by Chaim Lax


Supporters of the Islamic Group in Lebanon and Hamas protest in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Beirut, Lebanon, October 29, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

Less than two weeks after the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, the British Medical Journal published a piece by several academics decrying the war’s effect on the healthcare system and calling for an immediate end to hostilities.

The article — titled “Violence in Palestine demands immediate resolution of its settler colonial root causes” — is an ideological screed directed against the Jewish state, and is full of inflammatory comments, misleading statements, and a distorted analysis of the war.

The Missing Hamas Factor

One of the most glaring omissions is any mention at all of Hamas.

Even though this war was precipitated by Hamas’ invasion of Israel and subsequent atrocities committed against civilians in Israeli border communities (including the targeting of ambulances), there is zero mention of this anywhere aside from a passing remark that there have been “1400 people killed in Israel.”

While the piece does mention that one Israeli EMT was killed on October 8, it never names who the assailants were. At the same time, the article directly implicates Israel in reported attacks against health workers in Gaza. The purposeful omission of any mention of Hamas’ culpability in the recent violence is unmistakable.

Further, in several paragraphs, the authors express their concerns regarding the supposed Israeli targeting of medical facilities, noting that they are protected sites under international law.

However, once again, they are silent about Hamas — this time about the terror group’s exploitation of Gaza’s medical infrastructure for its own purposes. (This is a breach of international law that causes medical sites to lose their status as a protected entity).

A week after this piece was published, Israel released information that Hamas was using the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as a base for its terrorist activities.

This was not the first time that such information about the exploitation of Gaza’s medical infrastructure had been exposed. In both 2008 and 2014, foreign journalists and the IDF both confirmed that Hamas was using hospitals and ambulances to transport and hide members of the terror group.

And yet, the authors are silent on the topic, focusing all their energies against Israel instead of the Hamas terrorists who misuse Gaza’s medical system.

Misleading Statements, Context-free Claims: The BMJ’s Anti-Israel Bias

The British Medical Journal piece is also chockful of misleading claims and distortions of fact.

Some of the most blatant examples of the inherent bias include:

  • Early in the piece, the authors lament the displacement of Palestinians in Gaza due to the fighting (many of whom have heeded Israel’s calls to leave northern Gaza for their own safety). At the same time, nary a word is mentioned about the 500,000 Israelis displaced from areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip and Lebanon due to the ongoing threat from Hamas and Hezbollah.
  • This piece reports on casualties among Gazan health workers and humanitarian personnel, with the latest numbers given up to October 18. At the same time, it mentions only one Israeli EMT killed, even though the Magen David Adom ambulance service had updated its website as early as October 12 with the names of other Israeli medical personnel killed by Hamas.
  • While condemning attacks against Gazan medical facilities, there is no mention that Hamas’ indiscriminate rocket attacks have damaged Israeli medical institutions, including a rocket that struck Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon on October 8.
  • The authors claim that the current war can be traced back in history to “the 1948 Nakba that involved the violent displacement of more than 700,000 Palestinians from over 400 villages and towns by Israeli settlers.” This is a gross distortion of Israeli history, neglecting the fact that many of the Palestinians displaced in 1948 had fled of their own accord (either to escape the battlefield or in anticipation of a quick Arab victory).
  • This piece includes the October 17 explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in a paragraph detailing Israeli attacks but then, in the next paragraph, admits that “the origin of the missile strike remains to be determined.” The piece had originally referred to it as an “airstrike” but updated to “missile strike” after the British government concluded that Israel was not responsible.
  • This piece compares Israel’s warning to the residents of northern Gaza to flee south for their own safety to calls for expulsion, claiming that this is “central to Zionist expansionism and advocated by several Zionists prior to and following the formation of the state of Israel in 1948.”
  • The authors conclude with a call for an end to the hostilities and “the immediate de-escalation of the threat posed by Israel to the lives of millions of Palestinian people.” This erasure of the threat posed by Hamas to millions of Israeli civilians and total disregard for the victims of Palestinian terrorism is the pinnacle of this piece’s bias and lack of intellectual merit.

Supporting Palestinian ‘Resistance’: The Authors’ Anti-Israel Bias on Social Media

Following the publication of this piece, The Times of London reported that two of the paper’s six authors had a history of anti-Israeli bias on social media, including support for the October 7 invasion.

Sali Hafez, a member of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, had liked several posts about Hamas’ attacks, including one that declared “Decolonisation is always a violent phenomenon,” and another that read “Resisting illegal military occupation is a legitimate right according to international law.”

She also tweeted in Arabic “Please don’t let anyone extract the incident from a larger context and tell me international humanitarian law,” and later shared a post that called for supporting “Palestinian resistance in all its forms.”

James Smith, the primary contributor to the piece, also reportedly shared on LinkedIn a recent post that decried “Israel’s colonial-settler occupation and genocide” of the Palestinians.

The Times also revealed that Seye Abimbola, the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal Global Health had shared a post on October 8 that read “Decolonisation is about dreaming and fighting for a present and future free of occupied Indigenous territories. It’s about a Free Palestine. It’s about liberation and self-determination. It’s about living with dignity. Decolonisation is not a metaphor.”

With a history of demonization of the Jewish state and support for Hamas’ revolting actions on October 7 among some of its authors, it is no wonder that this piece is steeped in anti-Israel rhetoric and total erasure of Palestinian terrorism.

Nevertheless, the question remains how such an esteemed publication as the British Medical Journal could publish such a one-sided and incendiary piece.

The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.

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