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John R. Cohn

John R. Cohn

John R. Cohn, Thomas Jefferson University, SPME Board of Directors

John R. Cohn, M.D., is a physician at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital (TJUH), in Philadelphia, PA, where he is the chief of the adult allergy and immunology section and Professor of Medicine. He is the immediate past president of the medical staff at TJUH.

In his Israel advocacy work he is a prolific letter writer whose letters and columns have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Jerusalem Post, the Philadelphia Daily News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Haaretz, the Jewish Exponent, Lancet (an international medical journal based in the UK), and others. He was CAMERA’s “Letter Writer of the year” in 2003. He maintains a large email distribution of the original essays which he authors on various Israel-related topics.

He has spoken for numerous Jewish organizations, including Hadassah, the Philadelphia Jewish Federation and to a student group at Oxford University (UK). He and his wife were honored by Israel Bonds.

He wrote the monograph: “Advocating for Israel: A Resource Guide” for the 2010 CAMERA conference. It is valuable resource for all interested in maximizing their effectiveness in correcting the endless errors of fact and omission in our mainstream media. One piece of very valuable advice that he offers to other letter writers is: “Journalists and media are not our enemies, even those we don't agree with". Particularly for those of us in the academic community he urges a respectful and educational approach to journalists who have taken a wayward course.

In addition to the SPME board, Dr. Cohn is a member of a variety of professional and Jewish organizations, including serving on the boards of Hillel of Greater Philadelphia, the CAMERA regional advisory board, and Allergists for Israel (American allergists helping the Israeli allergist community). In the past he served on the board of the Philadelphia ADL. He participated in the 2010 CAMERA conference (“War by Other Means,” Boston University) where he led a panel with students on “Getting the Message Out,” and a break-out session called “Getting Published in the Mainstream Media.”

He is married, has three children and one grandchild. He belongs to two synagogues--he says with a chuckle, "So I always have one not to go to". He has been to Israel many times, including as a visiting professor at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. His first trip was at age 10, when Jerusalem was still a divided city; and he remembers vividly standing before the Mandelbaum Gate, wondering why he could not go through it to the Old City on the other side.

He adroitly balances his wide-ranging volunteer activities on behalf of Israel with his broad and complex medical and teaching practice (including authoring numerous professional publications) while successfully maintaining good relations with a broad spectrum of Jewish community leaders and organizations -- no small feat.

Regarding his involvement with SPME, Dr. Cohn acknowledged first and foremost SPME’s Immediate Past President, Professor Ed Beck. Dr. Cohn has long perceived that under Professor Beck’s guidance, SPME has been doing an essential job on college campuses; so he was honored when Professor Beck invited him to join the board.

He finds it easy to support and be active in SPME because being a Jewish American and a supporter of Israel presents no conflict due to the congruence of both countries’ interests, policies and priorities. It is clear that Israel’s cause is not a parochial issue. It is a just cause and its advocacy is advocacy for justice.

For Dr. Cohn, the need for SPME is clear. The resources of those who speak out on behalf of Israel are dwarfed by the funding sources available to those who seek to denigrate Israel. Israel's supporters don’t have large oil fields to underwrite their work. And the campus is a critical arena for work today on behalf of Israel, because this generation’s students are next generation’s leaders.

For advancing SPME’s work in the future, he would like to see the continued development of academically sound analyses to counter the prevailing anti-Israel ideology of all too much academic research and teaching on campuses and in professional fields today. He points to Lancet’s creation of a “Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance,” which asserts that Israel is to blame for poor health care for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The documented reality, however, is that life expectancy, infant mortality and other measures of health are better for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza than in many of the countries so critical of Israel This is in large part thanks to Israel.

Dr. Cohn asserts that we need more research, analysis and publications to counteract such misleading allegations.

All stories by: John R. Cohn

Rejecting Hatred is Not Rejecting Free Speech

Author Alice Walker was invited then disinvited to the University of Michigan’s Center for the Education of Women celebration of its 50th anniversary.  On her blog Walker blamed “removal of funding from…donors, because of…comments regarding Israel”. Walker has done more…

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Gentleman’s Agreement

It is obviously easier to criticize how something was covered in the newspaper or who was included in an international or academic forum than to write about what or who was not there.  Often, the most powerful bias of a publication…

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Inconvenient Truths at 60 Minutes

To the editor,      CBS anchor Bob Simon observed in the 60 Minutes story on Israel’s Christians, “The one place where Christians are not suffering from violence is the Holy Land”.  A real journalist would have tried to determine what makes Israel safer and…

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BDS and Academia

[NB This version differs in minor stylistic ways from the Jerusalem Post one] A self-proclaimed National Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Conference is set to take place at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) an Ivy league institution in the heart of Philadelphia during the…

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Extremism is condemned in Israel

 

A few random acts of harassment in Israel were characterized as “Jewish extremism” in Wednesday’s Inquirer story “Ultra-Orthodox’s actions against females decried.” Those acts have been widely and forcefully condemned, including by Israel’s prime minister, president, and chief rabbi. Even a leader of the group the miscreants come from has publicly criticized their behavior. There have been demonstrations against their misdeeds.

Contrary to The Inquirer’s story, what is being highlighted is not “Jewish extremism,” but widespread Israeli intolerance of the extremists’ misbehavior.

What a contrast to Egypt, Gaza, and Iran, where religious zealots are largely free from criticism or restraint by public officials for acts of far greater violence and intolerance toward Muslims, Christians, and others. There, of course, religious extremists are not criticized by the government; they are the government.

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