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Academic boycott of Israel: follow-up to the BMJ's debate

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 02 August 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:234
  1. Fiona Godlee, editor, BMJ
  1. fgodlee{at}

    The BMJ has been overwhelmed with readers' responses to the debate and poll about whether there should be an academic boycott of Israel. Many of the responses criticised the BMJ's decision to run the debate. Editor Fiona Godlee defends the decision. We also print a summary of the poll results by the BMJ's features editor and an edited selection of the rapid responses

    We expected a strong response to this debate (BMJ 2007;335:124 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39266.495567.AD and 2007:335:125 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39266.509016.AD). Let me try to answer the question some of you have raised about why the BMJ decided to include it as one of its head to head features. The BMJ aims, among other things, to reflect current debates—including political ones—that impinge on the future of health care and health research. The question of whether there should be a boycott of Israeli academic institutions is currently under serious consideration in the United Kingdom. It has been raised by trade unions that represent university academics and health workers, and it has been widely discussed in the UK media. In retrospect I think we could have made this context clearer.

    The debate was not initiated by the BMJ, but it has potentially important implications for our readers around the world. Doctors and medical academics are among those lobbying for a boycott and, as some of you describe in your responses, doctors and medical academics are in turn being lobbied to take one side or another. However, the question has not been discussed openly within the medical academic community. We took the view that, as part of our regular debates on a range of issues, BMJ readers should have the opportunity to see arguments on both sides and to contribute their opinions, which you have done and are doing. While some of …

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