TEL AVIV – The latest call to boycott Israel comes from a group of 71 British doctors who petitioned the World Medical Association (WMA) to expel Israel for carrying out “medical torture” on Palestinian patients, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Dr. Zeev Feldman, chairman of the Israeli Medical Association World Fellowship and president of the Israeli Neurosurgical Society, said on Wednesday after a Knesset panel on boycotts that the British doctors’ appeal to the WMA was just one of many efforts by an organized campaign against doctors, Israeli institutions, and scientists.
“We are in a struggle, everyone must understand that there is an organized struggle – a fight against academia, doctors, and other Israeli bodies,” he said.
“Our stance is that these accusations are lies, and we are engaged in a dialogue with the World Medical Association and we will bring forth the facts, and I hope that it will be enough to [convince the association to] reject this request,” he said.
Should the boycott go ahead, Feldman said it would have a “domino effect and radiate to all other scientific associations.”
“A boycott of the Israeli Medical Association would prevent Israelis from participating in medical conferences [and] publishing papers in journals, would halt funding of research and joint research endeavors, and prevent membership in other medical associations,” Feldman explained.
Feldman said that even though in the past the Israeli Medical Association has been successful in countering past calls for boycotts, he is not sure how much longer that will be the case.
“If there will be many hammer hits, eventually the wall will give in,” he said.
Prof. Peretz Lavie, president of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and chairman of the Association of University Heads in Israel, also spoke at the Knesset panel.
“The students exposed to boycotts against Israeli academia today will be the senators of the next generation, and here lies the long-term danger,” Lavie said. “We have no complaints about the academic leadership in the world. Our problem is on campuses. Initially this was only on marginal campuses, very quickly it spread to leading campuses in the U.S.”
Lavie also addressed the upcoming vote by the American Anthropological Association that will decide whether it will adopt a boycott and refrain from formal collaborations with Israeli academic institutions.
“The American Anthropological Association wrote a report that we are apartheid universities,” he said. “We must reach all 12,000 members of the association. This is a symptom and if we do not act the fire will spread.”
At the end of the panel, MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), the panel’s chairman, called on the government to establish a central body tasked with countering boycotts of Israeli academic institutions and researchers.
“The boycott [campaign] harms the strength of the State of Israel. The government must allocate appropriate funds for the good of the struggle in this hour of national emergency,” he said.