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Correspondence in Rapid Response BMJ re Boycott of Israeli Medical Association
I recently returned with six colleagues from my seventh visit to the remnants of Palestine. The suffering of the 3.7 million people has never been greater. The siege that was put in place by 29 nations, including Israel, in March 2007 was another cruel and unlawful turn of the screw.

And yet the picture painted by Dr Blachar in the letter quoted by Owen Dyer is one of IMA interest and benevolence. Unlike the British press, the Israeli fourth estate is searching and pulls no punches. It is fair to assume that the members of the IMA are well informed about their neighbours in the Occupied Palestine Territories - OPT.

One of those Israeli reporters who tells it as it is lives in the 'Territories' پEAmira Hass. She is motivated by this seminal moment in her mother's life.

Hannah Hass was being marched from a cattle train to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen on a summer's day in 1944. "She and the other women had been 10 days in the train from Yugoslavia. They were sick and some were dying. Then my mother saw these German women looking at the prisoners, just looking. This image became very formative in my upbringing, this despicable 'looking from the side'. It's as if I was there and saw it myself." (1)

As our world becomes more chaotic and cruel, not one of us should be 'looking from the side'. I urge the IMA to examine what is being done to its neighbours, and to act. Until that time I support a boycott.

Other medical associations wear no haloes. As far as I know the BMA, AMA and WMA have 'looked from the side' whilst hell has been brought to earth in Iraq. The occupying forces have failed in their duties under the Fourth Geneva Convention to maintain proper medical services for civilians. (I dismiss the fig leaf of the post hoc UN resolution). And are there not doctors at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo? It is as if the Nuremberg Trials had never taken place.


(1) Amira Hass: Life Under Israeli Occupation پBy an Israeli Published on Sunday, August 26, 2001 in the Independent. By Robert Fisk 'Jewish journalist, Amira Hass, doesn't merely report on the experiences of Palestinians on the West Bank پEshe shares their lives'