Med­i­cal­lob­by­outed over­its­boy­cotta­genda

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY SI­MON ROCKER

A JEWISH hu­man-rights group de­clined to co-spon­sor a meet­ing about Is­rael’s med­i­cal treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans be­cause some of its or­gan­is­ers are linked to the boy­cott cam­paign.

A group call­ing it­self the Med­i­cal Com­mit­tee for Pales­tine hosted visit­ing speak­ers in Lon­don this week from the med­i­cal or­gan­i­sa­tion, Physi­cians for Hu­man Rights-Is­rael (PHRI).

But the Jewish Fo­rum for Jus­tice and Hu­man Rights backed out of jointly spon­sor­ing a pub­lic meet­ing in Hamp­stead, North-West Lon­don on Mon­day af­ter dis­cov­er­ing the boy­cott links.

The Med­i­cal Com­mit­tee ap­pears to be a newly formed group with barely any in­for­ma­tion about it avail­able on­line. But con­tact de­tails for this week’s event list Derek Sum­mer­field and Pro­fes­sor Colin Green, who have pre­vi­ously called for the boy­cott of the Is­rael Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion and its ex­pul­sion from the World Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

Tony Klug, a mem­ber of the fo­rum, said: “The per­son who ini­tially con­tacted us about the meet­ing in­ad­ver­tently men­tioned it was be­ing or­gan­ised by the char­ity Med­i­cal Aid for Pales­tini­ans. Had it been MAP, we would have been agree­able to co-spon­sor­ing it.”

But the fo­rum changed its mind when it dis­cov­ered the com­mit­tee was “not a med­i­cal char­ity but a group whose lead­ing mem­bers have a strong po­lit­i­cal agenda, in­clud­ing ad­vo­cacy of a boy­cott”.

Mon­day’s meet­ing on “health and hu­man rights in the Oc­cu­pied Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries” was fol­lowed the next day by a panel dis­cus­sion at the Royal So­ci­ety of Medicine on “abuses of med­i­cal care un­der Is­raeli oc­cu­pa­tion”.

The PHRI del­e­ga­tion, who were also due to speak at meet­ings in Brighton and Ex­eter, con­sisted of its act­ing pres­i­dent Ruchama Mar­ton, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Hadas Ziv, and Miri Wein­garten, di­rec­tor of its Oc­cu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries de­part­ment.

Pro­fes­sor David Katz, founder of the anti-boy­cott Fair Play Med­i­cal Cam­paign and deputy chair­man of the Board of Deputies’ defence and group re­la­tions di­vi­sion, at­tended the Tues­day event.

“Their pre­sen­ta­tion was not pro-boy­cott,” he told the JC. “But in re­sponse to ques­tions from the au­di­ence, they said they were in favour of a boy­cott of the Is­rael Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

“I was sur­prised, given that one of them said that the board of the or­gan­i­sa­tion they were rep­re­sent­ing was op­posed to such boy­cotts.”

PHRI is a broad or­gan­i­sa­tion with 1150 mem­bers that work for Is­raelis, Pales­tini­ans, asy­lum-seek­ers and mi­grant work­ers un­able to get med­i­cal treat­ment. Its projects in­clude run­ning mo­bile clin­ics on the West Bank.

One of its se­nior mem­bers is Pro­fes­sor Raphael Walden — the son-in-law of Is­raeli pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres — who spoke to the Board of Deputies and Lib­eral Ju­daism last month.

Ac­cord­ing to Karen Worth, of Not­ting­ham Pro­gres­sive Jewish Con­gre­ga­tion, writ­ing in the cur­rent is­sue of Lib­eral Ju­daism To­day, Pro­fes­sor Walden de­scribed “the very poor health fa­cil­i­ties for Pales­tini­ans in the Oc­cu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries. He feels the Pales­tini­ans have a role in this them­selves and noted that they do not re­ceive help from the Pales­tinian di­as­pora or of­ten from Arab na­tions.”

Many of those who heard him, she added, had af­ter­wards said that they would con­sider in­clud­ing Physi­cians for Hu­man Rights in their syn­a­gogue’s Kol Nidre Ap­peal.

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