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What to do about orchestrated email campaigns

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 25 February 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b500
  1. Tony Delamothe, deputy editor,
  2. Fiona Godlee, editor
  1. 1BMJ, London WC1H 9JR
  1. tdelamothe{at}

    Authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders should ignore them

    Karl Sabbagh’s article in our Analysis section (doi:10.1136/bmj.a2066) examines emails sent to the BMJ’s acting editor, Kamran Abbasi,1 in response to a BMJ article criticising Israel.2 In the article published in 2004, Derek Summerfield asked whether the death of an Arab weighed the same as that of a US or Israeli citizen. Behind this question was his claim that the Israeli army had killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on 11 September 2001. In addition, he alleged that the pattern of injuries suggested that Israeli soldiers had been routinely authorised to shoot Palestinian children in situations of minimal or no threat—a charge that was later corroborated by Israeli soldiers.3

    Based on his analysis of emails, Sabbagh concludes that the BMJ was the target of an orchestrated campaign to silence criticism of Israel. And that is certainly how it felt. As well as almost 1000 emails to the editor, the BMJ’s website received hundreds of electronic responses to the article itself as well as feedback generally critical of the journal’s decision to publish it. The feedback messages began in earnest three days after publication and then streamed in, almost in alphabetical order of the senders’ names. Their wording was …

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