Science magazine removes op-ed accusing Israel of ‘vaccine apartheid’

The Scientific American retracted an opinion piece after receiving backlash for running an op-ed that categorically accused Israel of apartheid, war crimes and human rights abuses against Palestinians, according to the New York Post.The piece, titled “Health Care Workers Call for Support of Palestinians,” condemned Israel specifically for carrying out what it terms “vaccine apartheid” in addition to war crimes and human rights abuses.The article was written by research fellows and medical students from Harvard, the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Mayo Clinic and other medical institutions.The article was removed after three Nobel Prize winners and 100 other scientists called out the article, according to the NY Post.“In publishing the cited article, Scientific American’s editors jettisoned appropriate editorial standards and ignored easily verified facts that counter the authors’ one-sided invective,” the letter submitted by the Nobel Prize winners and scientists read, the report stated. “While purporting to be a scientific statement about public health, the paper addressed important historical and political issues superficially, inaccurately, and prejudicially,” it added. “In reality, the piece is a call for activism that, in our view, is unsupported by the facts.”In a letter to Stanley J. Robboy of the Duke Cancer Institute and Edward C. Halperin, chancellor of New York Medical College – both of whom co-wrote the letter – editor of the Scientific American Laura Helmuth claimed the magazine would be “revising [its] internal review process,” although did not specify why the article was removed.

“I have been on editorial boards for so many years. You can have differences of opinions, and you can even challenge facts, but it’s quite another thing to completely falsify a fact. So that is what I objected to in the article,” said Robboy, according to the report.The report furthers that days later the magazine published a piece on the mental health crisis in Gaza following the IDF’s Operation Guardian of the Walls, although it notes that there was not one mention of the terrorist organization which reigns over the coastal enclave Hamas, or its allies in terror.The report adds that Senior editors of the magazine have also come under the microscope for expressing opinions that could be deemed as antisemitic.”From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” said editor Sunya Bhutta, who works for the Scientific American and publicly supports the BDS movement.“Israel is an apartheid state and Zionism is white supremacy. #FreePalestine,” she said in a tweet amid the most recent escalation in May. “Israel is the only ally of American white supremacy,” the report said she stated through other avenues.Helmuth denied that Bhutta had any involvement within the story.“After publication, it was decided that this opinion and analysis piece fell outside our scope of coverage. Sunya Bhutta was not involved in this opinion and analysis piece. We support her right to express her views on social media,” Helmuth told the NY Post.Annex III, article 17 of the Oslo Accords states that the “powers and responsibilities in the sphere of Health in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side, including the health insurance system.” The text specifically stipulates that this includes vaccines.Oslo II also states that “Israel and the Palestinian side will exchange information about plagues and contagious diseases, will cooperate in fighting them and develop systems to transfer medical files and documents.”The Oslo Accords, though a group of interim agreements and not a final-status peace treaty, are widely considered an international legally binding agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. They stipulate that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for healthcare, including vaccinations, for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.Considering the fact that the PA had not asked for Israel’s help, these efforts could be seen as an apparent attempt for activists to spread falsehoods that are not even aiming for a result that the Palestinian leadership wants; it’s more or less about attacking Israel.Zachary Keyser, Tovah Lazaroff and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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