Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes: Summerfield's outrage is misplaced

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7474.1102-a (Published 04 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1102
  1. Irwin J Mansdorf, member (ijm321{at}hotmail.com)
  1. Task Force on Medical and Public Health Issues, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, New York and Raanana, Israel

    EDITOR—Summerfield's jump from psychiatrist to attorney, judge, and jury is a classic example of the inappropriate use of science and medicine to promote specific political views.1 Any reasonable and objective observer of the longstanding conflict between Arabs and Jews understands that the situation is not as prejudicially simple as Summerfield would have us believe.

    His outrageous statement that Israeli soldiers are “Clearly… routinely authorised to shoot to kill children…” is particularly egregious, baseless and something that has no place in a journal where science and evidence is valued. What is in fact routine is the care that Palestinians continue to receive, even today after years of conflict, in Israeli hospitals and from Israeli physicians. Unlike Israeli civilians, who dare not set foot in Palestinian villages for fear of being attacked and killed, Palestinian Arabs receive care in Israel that they could not receive in any neighbouring Arab country. In the last few months alone nearly 200 Palestinian children who were referred under a joint Israeli-Palestinian programme to treat children with serious medical conditions have already undergone major surgery at Israeli hospitals at no cost to the families. Another 350-400 Palestinian children have undergone free diagnostic testing.

    It is true that Palestinians have been forced into dreadful conditions because of the continuous policies of their own leadership, but Summerfield would do well to consider how Palestinian actions, rather than Israeli reactions, play a role in this continuing tragedy.


    • See Editor's choice and Reviews p 1110

    • Competing interests None declared.


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