Campaign by antizionists to have top Jewish surgeon struck off

Professor Michael Baum

This piece, by Leon Symons, is from the Jewish Chronicle

One of Britain’s leading cancer surgeons has told a conference how his support for the Israel Medical Association sparked a campaign to have him struck off by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Professor Michael Baum told a packed session at the annual Limmud conference at Warwick University that colleagues — including Jews — in the medical profession had turned on him after he challenged the accusation made by some that the Israel Medical Association (IMA) was complicit in the torture of Palestinian prisoners.

His session was called “The academic boycott of Israel: are the Jews among the worst antisemites?”

Professor Baum said he had first become involved “as an innocent” in June 2007 when the British Medical Journal invited him to write an article for an online poll arguing against an academic boycott of Israel. “You’re lucky if 2,000 get to vote on any issue. They had 23,000 votes online,” said Prof Baum, 72, who is emeritus professor of surgery and visiting professor of medical humanities at University College London.

“There were also rapid online responses. The views I got were extremely hurtful and extremely abusive, not to mention the hate mail I got both electronically and by post. It was also the first time I had experienced antisemitism in my life.”

Then Professor Baum encountered Dr Derek Summerfield, who led a lengthy campaign to unseat former IMA chair Dr Yoram Blachar after he was elected president of the World Medical Association in 2008.

Dr Summerfield set up a meeting at the Royal Society of Medicine attended by Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Physicians for Human Rights Israel, which reiterated the accusations against the IMA, and against Dr Blachar personally.

Professor Baum said the personal attacks culminated in a letter sent to everyone on the BMJ website — invoking the name of the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele, who carried out hideous experiments on Jews during the Holocaust — which accused him of covering for Israeli doctors.

It also said he should be ashamed of himself and that the GMC should revoke his licence to practice medicine. “This was written by a Jew,” he said.

“That’s when the campaign to get me struck off started — the worst ignominy any doctor can suffer. They collected signatures and tried to accuse me of complicity with IMA practices. Any attempt to defend myself provoked more anti-Israel and antisemitic rhetoric.”

The surgeon went to the Community Security Trust for advice because he was worried about his and his family’s safety. He admitted to his audience that he broke down in tears during a private meeting with Israeli ambassador Ron Prosor.

He and a colleague, Professor David Katz, decided to try to find out why Israelis were fighting Israelis and set up a meeting between the IMA and Physicians for Human Rights Israel. During the meeting in Israel in December 2008, Dr Blachar pleaded with PHRI to cease its attacks through both the BMJ and The Lancet, the other leading medical journal.

The two Britons thought they had a deal that would have stopped the accusations against the IMA but only five days later, Professor Baum claimed, PHRI launched another attack.

Both the BMJ and The Lancet ran special editions critical of Israel during what was called “Israel apartheid week” last February.

Professor Baum said he had now taken himself out of the firing line and instead was helping both Palestinians and Israelis through a charitable trust set up in the name of his late brother David.

This piece, by Leon Symons, is from the Jewish Chronicle

36 Responses to “Campaign by antizionists to have top Jewish surgeon struck off”

  1. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I had thought to wish everyone a Happy New Year, but I now wish to exclude all the paid up members of the BDS movement and all other anti-Zionists who consistently refuse to produce evidence to support their (often rabid) assertions, merely repeat them when challenged to produce evidence and deny the validity of the evidence others produce to refute _them_.

    I’m more than willing to extend this lack of good wishes to any who falls, broadly, in the categories above, but is somehow otherwise missed by them.

    To everyone else, have a good one, don’t eat or drink too much and keep up the good fight,

  2. zkharya Says:

    Galloway’s imputing “Mengele” to Israeli pathology will only excarbate this. GG is becoming increasingly inflammatory, if not libelous.

  3. Bill Says:

    This is deeply alarming. Sadly, we almost expect this level of misconduct and harassment from embubbled academia, but we expect a little bit more from the medical profession. I’m particularly concerned with this “deal” (that was quickly broken we see). Do non-Israeli {psst… read: Jewish} professionals who support Israel (or fail to demonize it enough) now have to haggle for permission to work among the tiny fraction of “globalized” anti”Zionists” in their communities?

    If this is what you call collegiality, you can have it. I’m with Brian — these people deserve one hell of a hangover tomorrow morning.

  4. Bialik Says:

    It is most hurtful when the people of your own profession turn on you. We know, historically, that it happens. Do we know why, yet?

  5. GideonSwort Says:

    PHRI have lost their moral compass a long time ago. I personally know one unhinged board member which carries the view that any means to an ands is Kosher, going as far as using the GMC as a whip. I supported their cause till they started their campaign outside of Israel’s borders. I will continue to be active in removing their funding.

    As to Prof. Baum, I feel for him, and his efforts to clean the mess between IMA and PHRI. This was doomed from the get go. I hope he doesn’t see this as his own personal failing.

    The GMC has been silent boycotting Israeli doctors for years, placing unattainable hurdles and unreasonable “Special Requests”, that aren’t listed anywhere formally. My only regret is that I couldn’t persuade my friends to take a legal truncheon to the GMC. Most will, and do turn to the USA. It’s worthwhile looking into the GMC’s statistics as to the number of licensed Israeli doctors practicing in the UK.

    Israeli Docs and researchers that I interact with do not contact British fellows for research collaboration, or paper validation. By and large they have either experienced rejection or have learned from others experience.

    I personally view this as not much of a loss for Israelis, and will keep making sure, through my work with Israel venture capital to return the favor to British researchers and investment.

  6. Susan Says:

    First of all this is a shame, because there are diseases that might be cured and people that might be helped with the involvement of Israeli doctors and academics.

    There isn’t much coverage of the medical advances that take place in Israel. There is a web site, http://www.israel21c.com, that covers medical and technical work being done in Israel for a general audience.

  7. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    While I sympathise with Gideon Swort and his attitude towards British medics who (informally, silently and under the radar, individually and collectively) boycott Israeli doctors, I feel that a counter-boycott is counter productive. It merely confirms the prejudices of the boycotters that they are, somehow, justified.

    If we oppose boycotts of Israel, then we can hardly claim the moral high ground if we do to them what they do to us (or the Israelis). Far better to continue to publicise the practices of the GMC on forums such as this one and any others we can find, lobby our MPs (those of us who are voters in the UK, and constantly remind the GMC of the one-sidedness of its practices. This is to say nothing of the potentially law-breaking nature of the actions taken, if the only grounds for refusing to collaborate with Israeli medics is that they are Israelis.

    And, as Susan notes, we might also remind the GMC and its members of the advantages they are losing by so willingly directing Israeli researchers (both medical and others) towards the US, Canada and Australia – those who wish to work with English-speaking collaborators, that is. They and their patients will be the losers, and there is plenty of information as to the medical breakthroughs originating in Israel for them to ponder.

  8. soovey Says:

    I am appalled by this. I am even more appalled that Prof Baum did not sue those who slandered him, although I can readily sympathise with the strain the issue put him under.

    But how typical of the actions of those who offer cloying, mindless sympathy to the Palestinian people (rather than the realistic aid which encourages them to work themselves to better understanding) that they should do the equivalent of cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Derek Summerfield is one such and the loss of Prof Baum from the medical profession – he is a prominent figure in cancer research – would hardly benefit the Palestinian people, would it?

    No, this is motivated by spite and jealousy and fear on the part of his Jewish detractors and hatred on the part of Summerfield.

    And for all his hate speech and hounding, Summerfield has won, hasn’t he, since Prof Baum will take it no further.

  9. GideonSwort Says:

    A well reasoned out post Brian Goldfarb, I do hear you.

    However, as I noted above, the Israeli Docs I was referring to have learned from experience. You can only be rejected a number of times before you end up proactively going elsewhere. There’s no counter boycott here, it’s a practical reaction to an exclusionary practice.

    As to the hi-tech/Bio-tech aspect of my post. I personally check into every proposal I come across emanating from a British investment group/bank or VC. The reasoning behind it is “pure business”. Let’s say that the proposal coming from the UK carries a portfolio that contains funds from the C of E or the TUC’s pension funds for instance. If a transaction is then carried out without addressing the portfolios investors, a fledgling seed or start-up company can be devastatingly rocked by “moral” investors pulling out. Besides, we wouldn’t want said investment houses dragging investors to unknowingly fund the Zios, would we?

    As to the moral high ground aspect of your post – so, remind me at which altitude the “Morals” are in this entire episode that we are addressing here. Would your proposed presumed high ground approach teach our opposition a lesson? Will they be humbled and recant their evil ways if we attain the moral altitudes you refer to? What can we presume if we read the narrative of the boycott/AntiZio chapter so far?

    Besides, without malice intended, there’s a slight aroma of the other-cheek in the tone of your post. As an Israeli, admittedly one who isn’t completely cured of his Anglo disease, the only other cheek I can spare is situated in the southern stern hinterland of my lower torso.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Gideon, thank you for your thoughtful response. I would never suggest to an Israeli that they must put up with this humiliation of constant rejection. If I were in their position, after a couple (at most) of rejections which clearly – as far as I could tell – had nothing to do with the merits of the proposal, I’d be off to the US, etc., myself.

      My point was that we shouldn’t collectively be attempting to “punish” _other_ UK organisations because of what the GMC is doing. Most UK universities will censure employees who are stupid enough to refuse to collaborate with Israelis for non-academic reasons, if only because of the sound of the judge’s gavel rings in their ears regarding the Race Relations Acts.

      That doesn’t mean Israelis shouldn’t be _very_ carefully checking out their potential collaborators as you suggest. It’s just that this didn’t come across fully in your first comment here.

  10. 701 Says:

    Anyone who dare raise the question of antisemitism or who refuses to demonise Israel within the UCU will understand full well what Baum was confronted with – accusations that they are not “proper” union members. that the Union would be better off without them and so on and so forth.

    The only difference is, of course, that the UCU do it in the “privacy of their own home” and will not hesitate to ban those who dare bring it to wider attention.

  11. Thomas Venner Says:

    I wonder if the people responsible for this would advocate a boycott of all cancer treatment techniques developed by Israeli doctors? Someone should point out to them how hypocritical it would be for them to denounce and punish Israeli doctors, but continue to make use of the fruits of their labours…

    Hopefully, this is the first step on the part of the “anti-Zionist” lobby towards becoming openly and explicitly anti-Semitic. The sooner the public is able to see them clearly for what they are, the better.

  12. Jonathan Romer Says:

    Carried out thoughtfully, only against those who would boycott Israel, Gideon Swort’s approach — besides being natural and rational as he explained — may also be effective in the long run.

    In effect he is agreeing to give the boycotters what they want, which raises the old admonition “Be careful what you wish for”. It will eventually become clear that Israel and Israelis are not harmed, they are simply doing their work elsewhere, and that others are reaping the benefits of professional and commercial collaboration with them. The losers will be the boycotters. Boycott leaders may be satisfied with that, but those they are leading may not be and may eventually become frustrated enough to rebel.

    I realise that’s not the only possible outcome, but it doesn’t seem unlikely and there’s not a whole lot else that can be done from the Israeli end.

  13. Bill Says:

    Yes. this has been brought up before with various flavors, from medical technology and knowhow to chipsets for PCs. I love the idea. Even though the boycotteers would never go for it – it’d be great fun watching them bend into contortions to rationalize, once again, having your cake and eating it too. No doubt all that Intellectual Property developed by Israelis and so coveted by the world was actually stolen from children in Gaza using evil Jooooooo-tech IP sucker-outers (which, in turn, was really stolen from little old ladies in the West Bank). Or they can cut the Gordian knot and just say that IP belongs to everyone (especially Israeli IP)… however the boycotteers’ own patents and developments are theirs and theirs alone — that, you see, “is different” (it always is, you know).

  14. Bialik Says:

    If formal and/or informal boycotts are popping up in recruitment and academia, what chance is there for people who have to put their nationality/nationalities on their application form? Shouldn’t forms just ask whether you have the right to work in the UK? Most do but the British civil service asks for your nationality.

    • Bill Says:

      “Most do but the British civil service asks for your nationality.”

      {Human Resources Narc Mode}
      As do we here. They need it to log such things as race, sex, and national origin for the org’s diversity stats. However, in the hiring process, you’re supposed to be blind to those factors unless you have pressing reason to do so (e.g., for positions for which native citizenship is a requirement) but the wiggle room is very very small. When we do interviews there’s a huge, almost funny, list of verboten topics that may give you a tiny glimmer of one’s protected group status. Those topics cannot be discussed, sometimes even when the candidate brings them up on their own. If such a thing is brought up in the discussions and said candidate doesn’t get the position, that’s the camel’s nose under the tent for an EEOC (and presumably RRA since the laws are similar) action.

      If the BDSsers want to have their “informal” or formal boycotts-of-one (which in your scenario really means a silent boycott-for-all since it involves hiring of third parties), they risk getting their gonads sued off as soon as someone leaks an email or an hiring committee member is spotted waring their special boycotters hat — and those hats are about as discreet as mouse ears and propeller beanies.
      {/Human Resources Narc Mode}

      In Baum’s case it’s, freakin’ clear that he is being targed.. ahem… “as a jew” by “as a jews” and “as not a jew but we know how jews should think”. Once again, I’d hope BDSers they’re wearing titanium cups under their jocks for their sakes — that is if I weren’t’ looking forward to seeing them crouch over in pain from a good legal kick.

  15. GideonSwort Says:

    I’d like to apologize for digressing into the practical and business side of things.

    I have to admit that I am deeply pained by Prof. Michael Baum tribulation, having to face for the first time in his prolific life, antisemitism and pure malice. To think that this is exacerbated by and actively enabled by an Israeli humanitarian organization which has forgotten its place in the greater scheme of things is unbearable. Playing at international politics has slipped PHRI into the sheets with some bizarre bedfellows.

    They will realize the consequences of their actions.

  16. 'Max' Says:

    You may be interested to know that an NHS doctor, Rita Pal, has published explicitly anti-Semitic material about Professor Baum on her blog.

    http://ward87.blogspot.com/2010/01/bagels-at-dawn.html

    I quote:

    “A grown man breaking down in tears just because some doctors have been mean to him. If we did that, we would be taken straight to the GMC loony bin, locked up, fed bagels by our Jewish GMC Chair Count Rubin and forced to repent. Whistleblowers are sinners you see.”

    “Declared Conflict of Interest – Avid Fan of Fiddler on the Roof, Continuously buy cakes from jewish bakeries. Always amazed by the length of jewish noses. Represented in the past by a jewish bagel eating barrister Robert Jay QC.”

    Charming. But the comments below are even worse:

    “Anonymous said…
    I didn’t realise Robert Jay was jewish until it was pointed out to me. Well, his nose was pointed out to me. These barristers are all stingy – we were all outside having lunch and you would think at that salary two lawyers would buy us lunch but – no way – we had to BUY them lunch.
    Jewish you see – saving the bagels for himself.”

    “Jews have perfected Attention-Seeking Behaviour of the victim syndrome into an art form. Where is the best place to exhibit this behaviour ? In the Limmud conference in front of other Jews. ”

    Charming examples of medical professionalism, aren’t they?

    Pal attacks Professor Baum again here:

    http://ward87.blogspot.com/2010/01/blasted-cry-baby.html

    Worryingly, she also appears to have found a friend in the Guardian’s Beatrix Campbell, who writes about her in very glowing terms:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/11/nhs-whistleblowers-persecution

    http://twitter.com/drritapal/status/6564182979

    But then with the increasingly anti-Semitic stance of the British Left, should we really be surprised?

    Might be an idea to circulate this one.

  17. Absolute Observer Says:

    “If he wasn’t ready for the fall out, why write a controversial inflaming piece?”

    And the controversial inflaming piece was, of course,

    “In June 2007 when the British Medical Journal invited him to write an article for an online poll arguing against an academic boycott of Israel.”

    Interesting how Rita Pal’s article proves the point Baum is making about the racism that attaches to discussions about Israel.

    I assume, of course, that the GMC will be notified of these racist comments and the appropriate action taken.

  18. Absolute Observer Says:

    One assumes that Pal monitors her webpage.

    This was been posted on 2 JANUARY 2010 02:30

    “Anonymous said…
    ‘Dear Rita, Please take something seriously, the man was crying for heavens sake.’

    Jews have perfected Attention-Seeking Behaviour of the victim syndrome into an art form. Where is the best place to exhibit this behaviour ? In the Limmud conference in front of other Jews.

    The surgeon knew despite his association with war-criminals the GMC would take no action against him. The reason is the presence of overt Zionists like Peter Rubin in the GMC. Rubin was the chairman of the education committee before his fraudulent election to ‘chair’.”

  19. NIMN Says:

    To be fair to Campbell, her article was written weeks before Pal’s antisemitic comments.

    If I understand Pal’s rant correctly, she was complaining about Baum being a whistleblower – a line taken by UCU against those who make public the racism on its own activist list – whilst Campbell supports Pal’s defence of, erm, whistleblowers.

  20. 'Max' Says:

    I have all that material screencapped and saved in case she panics and takes it down.

    Dr. Pal has some ‘interesting’ connections – one with ‘right wing’ UKIP candidate Elizabeth Robillard MP:

    http://www.pr-inside.com/elizabeth-robillard-mp-for-kensington-and-r1443522.htm

    I also vaguely recall her being acquainted with conspiracy theorist Tony Gosling.

  21. Bill Says:

    And just what IS the UCU’s stance on whistleblowing when it comes to university misconduct. Betcha they’re all for it. Ironically, the antisemitic blogger in question claims to be one.

  22. Zkharya Says:

    Campbell praise’s Pal’s revelations about Staffordshire NHS, not allegedly about Baum.

  23. Thomas Venner Says:

    Quite frankly, there should be a campaign to get some of the doctors who have participated in the campaign against Dr Baum struck off. If, as seems fairly obvious, these doctors are acting out of anti-Semitism, then there are genuine safety concerns to be raised about whether these doctors should be practicing. What happens when some of them have to give treatment to, even perform surgery on, a patient who they know or believe to be Jewish?

  24. Thomas Venner Says:

    Oh, and one other thing – has anyone asked the people making the allegations of complicity in torture to produce evidence that the IMA has done anything of the sort, or even that Palestinian prisoners have been tortured at all?

  25. Ed Kaplan Says:

    Here in my opinion is one of the best American Jewish Committee service announcements I’ve seen in a long while — and it is pertinent to this thread (courtesy http://www.ajc.org/)

    AJC Radio Message: African Refugees in Israel Getting Medical Care

    January 5, 2010 – New York

    Reporting from the Middle East usually focuses on conflict.

    Here’s a different – and heartwarming – story for the New Year.

    In the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, there’s a free health clinic.

    It’s for refugees who arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs – and a desire to start a new life.

    The clinic is run by the Israel Medical Association and the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross, with help from the Ministry of Health.

    The doctors and nurses volunteer their time. So do the medical students who come by to help.

    The medicines are all donated from local sources.

    Who are the refugees?

    They’re all from such African countries as Sudan, Eritrea, Congo, and Chad.

    Many are Muslims.

    These African refugees fleeing war, famine, and lack of opportunity seek a new start – where? – in Israel.

    Quite a story, I’d say!

    Israel. The more you know, the more you understand.

    Visit ajc.org.

    This is David Harris of AJC.

  26. Absolute Observer Says:

    Ok, a nice story.

    But, unfortunately, there are also stories like this………

    http://www.btselem.org/english/press_releases/20091122.asp

    Israel does good things and it does bad things.
    It is state like any other, whoopideda.

    This story was not about how good, bad, indifferent Israel is. It’s about a Brit who sought to oppose the boycott as was faced with antisemitic and racial abuse.

    There are many places where “bigging up” Israel is seen as making a political point.

    Engage, I believe, is not one of them.

    Fighting antisemitism is not conditional on whether Israel does nice things or nasty things.

    Indeed, to argue otherwise is nothing other than a mirror image of those seeking to demonise the Jewish statel as inherently and uniquely evil.

  27. Ed Kaplan Says:

    AO — sometimes a nice story is just that. I am well aware of the flip — see

    http://www.som.yale.edu/faculty/ehk1/Lancet_Ethiopian_blood.pdf

    for an instance of such in the same (Israeli medical) arena that I wrote many years back.

  28. Absolute Observer. Says:

    Ed,
    Thanks for this. And, I think I owe you an apology for my assumption and tone.
    AO

  29. Joshua Says:

    “PHRI have lost their moral compass a long time ago.”

    Some of PHRI’s donors:

    EED Germany (An association of the Protestant Churches in Germany)
    Royal Embassy of the Netherlands
    The Ford Foundation
    Christian Aid
    OXFAM – GB
    Medico International Germany
    British Shalom Salaam Trust (Patrons include: Avi Shlaim, Alexei Sayle, Miriam Margolyes)
    Others (Anyone care to guess? — J)
    The Jerusalem Fund (A little about its work: “The Center’s analysis emphasizes a Palestinian perspective on the peace process, the Right of Return and final status negotiations, elections, international law, media coverage of Israel and Palestine and U.S. foreign policy in the region.”)

    http://www.phr.org.il/default.asp?PageID=150

  30. Ed Kaplan Says:

    AO,
    OK and thanks — “no harm, no foul!”
    Ed K.

  31. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Interesting list of sponsors for PHRI. Given Gideon Swort’s comments above, it’s interesting to wonder if some (or more than just some) of them will withdraw their funding for this coming year. It’s difficult to imagine, for example, the Tel Aviv municipality going along with this sort of behaviour by PHRI.

    As for the named members of, eg, the Shalom Salaam Trust, well, enough said. Avi Shlaim presumably was once a good academic and Miriam Margolyse was an actor whose work I admired. However, I can’t help, however unfairly, now viewing her work through the prism of her anti-Zionism.

  32. Andy Gill Says:

    This is naked bullying by a self-righteous cabal of anti-semitic thugs. It strengthens my resolve to support Israel.

  33. Max Says:

    Exactly, Andy.

    Another interesting point is Dr. Rita Pal who posted the antisemitic rant on Baum is a friend of Elizabeth Robillard MP, apparently a rightwing UKIPper and “Celt-Brit activist”:

    “Robillard is discussed by many, most notably by the controversial psychiatrist Dr.Rita Pal on her blog, NHS Exposed. She is said to be a rather close friend with their common interests being ‘Injustice and a loathing of cults’ as well as supporting people to bring cases to courts without constulting lawyers.”

    http://www.pr-inside.com/elizabeth-robillard-mp-for-kensington-and-r1443522.htm

    I wonder if Ms. Robillard has similar sympathies to Pal regarding Jews and Israel?

  34. Elizabeth Lucye Robillard Says:

    I have a lot of sympathy for Orthodox Jews and anti-Zionists (see ‘Jews Against Zion’ website) – it’s well reported by Orthodox Jews that Hitler and his aides were Zionists. Check it out for yourself. As for my politics, I am a ‘per issue’ voter and vote for whomever is doing best for the people of our country, but generally support the Green Party these days, though I am happy to have friends from all parties. I grew up in a multicultural place and have never been able to tolerate racism nor oppression. Thanks.


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