May 24, 2024
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Israel Advocacy vs. Scientific American Article

On June 2, Scientific American published an opinion and analysis piece titled “As Health Care Workers, We Stand in Solidarity with Palestine,” written by several health care workers and activists. The article made blatantly false claims including the allegation that Israel was intentionally causing a health care crisis in Gaza. The article was picked up and posted on the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Global Now daily newsletter where I first saw it. Furthermore, the article was quoted widely on Twitter by both anti-Israel individuals and organizations, using the name of Scientific American to give credence to their anti Israel falsehoods. The article was so inflammatory that I could hardly believe what I was reading and in no less of a publication than Scientific American. The article was brought to the attention of the media-monitoring organization CAMERA and their senior media analyst Ricki Hollander, who wrote a detailed rebuttal to the article and contacted the editorial leadership at Scientific American. Furthermore, CAMERA sent out an alert to its members urging them to write to the editor and publisher of Scientific American and to cc senior leadership at Springer Nature that owns the usually well-respected 176-year-old publication. I and many others wrote letters decrying their publication of this blatant anti-Israel screed. Letter writers were urged to write their own individual letters and not the type of form letters we are often requested to send to our senators and congressmen.

Scientific American at first balked and stated that they stood by their publication of an opinion piece, but on June 14, the editors at the magazine relented and removed the article from their web site with the following statement: “The article fell outside the scope of Scientific American and has been removed.” While their acknowledgment falls well short of a retraction, it is a victory nonetheless as activists were circulating it online as a BDS petition, linking to Scientific American to give it legitimacy, and other anti-Israel publications were citing the magazine’s anti-Israel article as proof of Israel’s misdeeds. While damage has no doubt been done by Scientific American, we must learn the lesson that no attack on Israel can go unanswered, whether it be a rocket fired by Hamas or Hezbollah or a media salvo online or in print.

I urge everyone to stay alert for anti-Israel attacks and answer them with letters to the editor. At times like this, we must partner with Israel media organizations like CAMERA that have the professional staff able to marshall our forces in an effective way.

Howard E. Friedman
Teaneck
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