Update – April 2024

The Lancet published an article by Dehghan et al several months back. Some of the authors of that article have called previously for “decolonisation” as a solution to the current conflict.

Three responses to this have been published – eventually.

One of these is from several members of the JMA: ”Duty and advocacy for Palestine: Jewish doctors’ response” by Nadel et al – which can be accessed here.

The other two are from an American group: “Hypocrisy of moral imperatives in the Israel–Hamas war” by Roth et al – which can be accessed here; and from an international group: “When medical duty and advocacy are one-sided, both sides suffer” by Katz et al – which can be accessed here.

These three items remain very relevant to public debate.

The Lancet Commission Report on Medicine, Nazism and the Holocaust was published in November 2023, in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas massacre of 7th October 2023. In an article published in the Israeli Journal for Healthcare Policy Research two of the authors of that report (Reis and Wald) say that it has striking relevance to ongoing discussions about current events.

The authors regard the massacre as a crime against humanity including genocide. For Israel self-defence is a legitimate objective. The use of one’s own civilians as human shields, including in health facilities, and at the same time causing immense ongoing suffering in Israel, is unacceptable. They deplore that (with some exceptions) the medical literature has not condemned Hamas’ atrocities and has criticised the Israeli military. This has been followed by a surge of antisemitism, and the Report asserts that healthcare professionals have a special responsibility to combat this as well as other forms of discrimination. This requires issues of antisemitism and religious discrimination to be included within all EDI programmes, including those on campus; and with this an evidence-based approach to 7th October and its aftermath. The relevance of this must be seen by healthcare professional not only within medicine but also within global citizenship. International community accusations and anti-Israel libels need to be refuted.

The authors conclude by reviewing the report’s implications for contemporary medicine in general. They assert that four approaches are required: 1) provision of skills required to detect and prevent crimes against humanity and genocide; (2) care for victims of atrocities; (3) upholding the healing ethos central to the practice of medicine; and (4) fostering history-informed morally courageous health professionals who speak up when necessary.

The full article can be accessed here.