November 06, 2008

Way beyond satire and another reason to boycott Israel

This should have been big news and perhaps in some quarters it is but look at this report on The Medical Committee for Boycott of the Israeli Medical Association website.
5 November 2008 Derek Summerfield writes to say the long standing President of the IMA, Yoram Blachar, becomes President of the World Med Assoc. It had escaped The Medical Committee for Boycott of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) that he had been President-elect of the WMA.

For those familiar with the role Blachar has played over many years, for him to become President of the official international watchdog on medical ethics is an event beyond satire, as when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. Next thing Donald Rumsfeld is going to pop up as the head of Amnesty International...

Just for openers, the1975 Declaration of Tokyo, which forbids doctors to participate or collude with torture, is a WMA document. Yet Blachar is on record in no less than the Lancet as supporting the use of “moderate physical pressure” (the Israeli euphemism for torture, and condemned as torture by the UN Committee on Torture). This is not something you see everyday in an international medical journal from the head of a national medical association (Blachar Y. The truth about Israeli medical ethics. Lancet 1997;350:1247) . He has played a consistent and trusty role over many years in batting away approaches from both Israeli organisations (PHR-I, Public Committee Against Torture) and international ones (Amnesty, Human Rights Watch, various UN agencies, aid agencies like Medecins Sans Frontieres etc) regarding the extent of documentation in the public realm about the everyday collusion by Israeli doctors with torture as state policy.

He has refused to condemn the systematic violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention being applied in the siege of Gaza- those sections that guarantee a civilian population unimpeded access to materials and services vital to life, including health services, and which guarantee immunity to health professionals as they work. A morally abhorrent track record of quite unusual clarity.

The WMA is there to address the violations of medical ethics to which I and others have been pointing for years, but it has of course long since been sewn up. That was what Blachar was there for, I am afraid. As I have written before, when the official and ‘normal’ channels do not function or will not function, we can either give up or move on to other approaches. This is where our calls for a boycott of the IMA, and indeed the whole academic boycott campaign, come in.
The campaign for a boycott of the IMA is a part of the academic boycott campaign.


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