On June 2, the venerable publication Scientific American published an anti-Israel propaganda opinion piece on its website titled, “As Health Care Workers, We Stand in Solidarity with Palestine.”
The article, now removed, was authored by a group of physicians and medical students.
Voice4Israel of North Carolina board members Drs. Stanley Robboy and Robert Gutman promptly wrote a response in partnership with Dr. Edward Halperin, Chancellor/CEO of New York Medical College. The letter was signed by more than 106 scientists and physicians — including three Nobel Laureates; more than 20 university trustees; college and university presidents, chancellors, provosts; and many professors. The authors explained:
A journal devoted to science should not publish one-sided political propaganda … Scientific American’s editors jettisoned appropriate editorial standards and ignored easily verified facts … While purporting to be a scientific statement about public health, the paper addressed important historical and political issues superficially, inaccurately, and prejudicially.
Within a few hours of sending the letter, Dr. Robboy received positive news in an email response from Scientific American’s editor-in-chief stating, “We have removed the article”; he also mentioned that the outlet was “revising our internal review processes,” and considering steps “to prevent a repetition of this error by the magazine.”
Others, including the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis, also responded with impressive advocacy on this issue.
Scientific American replaced the biased anti-Israel column with an editor’s note that reads, “This article fell outside the scope of Scientific American and has been removed” (A full text of the now removed column may be viewed here).
It is not surprising that the pages of Scientific American were used to demonize and vilify Israel.
Scientific American’s Editor-in-Chief, Laura Helmuth, tweeted in 2015, “Not looking forward to this: Congress invites [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu to another lovefest. Bibi, shut up.” That same year, Helmuth tweeted her opinion that it was “awful” that Netanyahu won reelection.
Scientific American Senior Editor Sunya Arshad Bhutta tweeted on May 28, 2021, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — which is widely viewed as a call for the erasure of Israel. In June of 2021, Bhutta tweeted, “the united states has caused significantly more terror worldwide than the taliban and hamas combined…it’s a fact.”
In a 2019 tweet, Bhutta said, “Israel is an apartheid state.” In 2021, Bhutta tweeted, “Israel is the only ally of American white supremacy.” In 2020, Bhutta accused Israel of “countless human rights abuses,” and stated, “I support the BDS movement.” BDS is the movement to Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel.
In 2021, Bhutta accused Israel of a “criminally negligent coronavirus response.” Of course, she ignored the Oslo Accords, which call for the Palestinian Authority to provide healthcare to its people, and includes the statement that “Powers and responsibilities in the sphere of health in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will be transferred to the Palestinian side … the Palestinian side shall provide vaccinations.”
Unsurprisingly, Bhutta promoted the recently removed Scientific American column in a series of tweets, writing, “In this letter published by @sciam [Scientific American], health care workers from around the world unequivocally condemn Israel’s long-standing oppression of the Palestinian people.”
Before the column was removed, one of its co-authors — Dr. Sabreen Akhter — publicly tweeted, “Thank you Scientific American for standing on the right side of justice with this piece,” strongly implying that the biased, anti-Israel column was published as a statement of the organization.
The authors of the removed Scientific American column are Osaid Alser, Asmaa Rimawi, Sabreen Akhter, Nusheen Ameenuddin, Anand Chukka, Qaali Hussein, Bryan Leyva, and Arian El-Taher.
Dr. Osaid Alser deleted his Twitter account the same day the column was removed from Scientific American. Drs. Hussein and Rimawi publicly stated in a Twitter conversation that each felt unsafe when medical colleagues mention their love of Israel.
Rimawi tweeted that she would not tolerate doctors who “spoke about partying in Israel” and urged others to “report” such doctors, saying, “Our schools have to listen when we are unsafe.”
In the now deleted column itself, the authors wrote, “We adhere to the standards set forth by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.” One of the co-authors, Dr. Sabreen Akhter, speculated on Twitter that the column was removed because of the authors’ support of BDS. This begs the simple question, why would a publication that purports to be “scientific” provide clearly biased authors a platform to attack Israel?
On the day the Scientific American column was removed, co-author Dr. Nusheen Ameenuddin “protected” her Twitter account so that the public could not see her tweets. Before she did, I noticed several tweets in which she offered three examples of “fascism.” It is curious that Ameenuddin chose Israel, India, and the United States — and not Hamas — as examples of fascism.
Co-author and Harvard medical student Anand Chukka has issued many tweets listing things he thinks need to be abolished, including: “abolish landlords NOW”; “abolish everything carceral”; “abolish ALL police”; “abolish all prisons”; “abolish the f***ing charity model in your head”; and “abolish the whole f***ing system.”
Chukka has also tweeted, “f*** the cops f*** the corporations”; “f*** you nancy pelosi”; “f*** aipac”; “shut the f*** up liberal”; and “nobody should be tryna build an ‘inclusive democratic party’ with cops + ice agents + landlords + billionaires f*** off.”
The authors of the removed column and their supporters have engaged in a #stopcensoringpalestine campaign on social media to protest the removal of the column. One of the co-authors, Dr. Sabreen Akhter, retweeted that it was an act of “white supremacy” for Scientific American to remove the column.
On June 4th, Scientific American published a second biased column titled “A New Mental Health Crisis Is Raging in Gaza.” This column looks at the mental health of Palestinians in Gaza while ignoring the mental health of Israelis who are forced to endure thousands of rockets, incendiary devices, and terror tunnels used to attack Israel from Gaza.
Scientific American has been corrupted by anti-Israel and antisemitic biases and bigotry, which should be unwelcome at a “scientific” publisher.
Peter Reitzes is a board member of Voice4Israel of North Carolina and writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.