BMJ actively fights free speech

Posted: March 9, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Anti-Israel, Israel
British Medical Journal cover

BMJ. Not just medicine

The British Medical Journal has been actively fighting Israel on it’s pages. The BMJ has attacked Israel in several cases, getting into politics, totally abandoning their self-set goals:

The aims of the BMJ are to publish rigorous accessible information that will help doctors improve their practice and will influence the international debate.

We’re only left to wonder how criticizing Israel’s occupation reaches the goal of publishing “information that will help doctors improve their practice”. Maybe to doctors like Mads Gilbert they do.

HonestReporting social media editor, Alex Margolin, wrote an Op-Ed for Jerusalem Post, regarding BMJ’s attack on HR. In short, HonestReporting called BMJ’s on its lies, where one of Journal’s articles identified all killed Palestinians as civilians, instead of presenting fair information, which shows many of Palestinians killed in clashes since 2000 are terrorists, killed while fighting Israeli forces.

BMJ obviously didn’t like the criticism, and decided to let a columnist, Karl Sabbagh, attack the watchdog back. In quite a long article, headlines “Perils of criticizing Israel“, Sabbagh goes through several email received by BMJ, “analyzing” the hate behind the emails… without addressing the problem: that BMJ published incorrect data. Good work, Karl.

From Margolin’s Op-Ed:

In a third case, some 2,000 HonestReporting readers complained about an article in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that stated that as of 2004, “the Israeli army, with utter impunity, has killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on September 11, 2001.” HonestReporting noted that those figures would be correct only if all Palestinian casualties were unarmed civilians. In reality, however, most were terrorists.

But the BMJ did not move to correct the contentious error, which directly challenges Israel’s moral standing. Instead, in a series of articles published last week, it accused HonestReporting of carrying out an “orchestrated campaign” against the publication and promised to ignore such campaigns in the future. In one of the featured articles, Karl Sabbagh took the issue one step further, claiming the flood of e-mails was meant to bully BMJ editors. “The ultimate goal of some of the groups that lobby for Israel or against Palestine is apparently the suppression of views they disagree with,” he wrote.

I would suggest to read both articles. Margolin’s – to understand what HonestReporting does and how an effective media watchdog works. Sabbagh’s – to see how modern-day columnists prefer to ignore real issues, instead focusing on kicking back insults from email authors, who couldn’t hold their anger back.

  1. I think I will support your right of free speech by stating that you are entitled to your opinion.

  2. Dukefleed says:

    Dear Jonathan,
    it seems to me that you are the one missing the point here: articles published in any peer-reviewed medical journal represent the personal views of their author’s not the journal, the journal dose not support any political views, if the article is deemed suitable to be published, it will be. Denying people the right to express their views by directly attacking them when they do contradicts what you are calling for… freedom of speech. you are more than welcomed to challenge the author’s views and evidence, but labeling the journal of being anti-Israel just because 2 or 3 published articles criticized Israel throughout the journal’s lifespan (that extends more than 150 years) is kinda of naive, don’t u think?

  3. Look, this argument goes on for ages.

    Case in point: BMJ has right of voice. They’ve got inconsistencies in facts.

    Secondly, you are more than welcome to stay with your opinion.

  4. Dukefleed says:

    Right…… So let me get this straight: you don’t believe in the UN or Amnesty, you think the Geneva conventions and human rights law are outdated.

    I can’t help but think its a kinda of ironic that you mentioned the “eye for an eye” law, coz as i recall its one of the ancient laws held by Jews and was considered as symbol of fairness in Trial and Justice in Ancient Israel.

    And as for the “Human Shields” claims that went unproven till today I’ll just quote Human Rights Watch: “the attacking party is not relieved from its obligation to take into account the risk to civilians simply because it considers the defending party responsible for having located legitimate military targets within or near populated areas”
    that is of course if credit Human Rights Watch.

  5. Right. Problem is that no Palestinian Rights Groups could come up with one substantiated case of IDF troops “shooting people on sight”. I concede, civilians were killed, but that’s what you get for voting a terrorist group into office. Israel should care for its people first. It gave Palestinians plenty of opportunities to stop the war.

    That said, IDF should improve its methods and do best not to harm civilian population. It is much harder to do when militants use civilian infrastructure in order to protect themselves.

    As to sources, you can be wary of Israeli/Jewish sources; yet saying UN and Amnesty are “best there is” is out of whack. The fact is that both have proven themselves to be anti-Israel on many occasions, failing to fairly address issue of Palestinian militants’ use of civilians as human shields, robbery of goods, attacks on Israeli civilian infrastructure, et cetera.

    As to the Geneva conventions: I wouldn’t take outdated laws into much consideration. Same as saying “an eye for an eye” still should hold today.

  6. Dukefleed says:

    The International Committee of the Red Cross 1958 Commentary on IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War Article 4.4 states that “every person in enemy hands must have some status under international law: he is either a prisoner of war and, as such, covered by the Third Convention, a civilian covered by the Fourth Convention, or again, a member of the medical personnel of the armed forces who is covered by the First Convention. There is no intermediate status; nobody in enemy hands can be outside the law. We feel that this is a satisfactory solution – not only satisfying to the mind, but also, and above all, satisfactory from the humanitarian point of view.”

    Even the an unlawful combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent (i.e. civilian who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of International Humanitarian Law) should be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state, not just shot on sight!!

  7. Dukefleed says:

    No one can be 100% neutral, but as far as i know they are the best there is, can you come up with something better?

  8. Right… Are you actually implying UN and Amnesty are impartial sources?

  9. Dukefleed says:

    What’s the fuss about? the article that stormed over 1000 replies was published as personnel view point, and unless you are some kind of a dictator, everyone is entitled to express their views (specially if they have the proof to back it up, unlike your article)
    In Military terms people are either military personnel or non military (aka: civilians), the terrorist phrase you keep mentioning is just a label!! so labeling the dead civilians as terrorists doesn’t get Israel off the hook!! you can never know if a person is terrorist or not until they are captured & questioned! (unless Israeli soldiers have some kind of psychic powers that can read minds before they bomb and shoot).
    BMJ deals with facts, that’s why its one of the most respected journals in the world, the author supported his arguments with figures published by reputable international organizations, such as the United Nations and Amnesty International. where are your sources? (apart from the biased Israeli sources of course

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