Perils of Criticising Israel

This week the British Medical Journal has a feature on criticising Israel:

bmjIn 2004, the BMJ published an article criticising Israel, which provoked hundreds of hostile emails. Karl Sabbagh analyses responses sent directly to the editor and takes a broader look at what journalists and editors face when covering controversial issues. Michael O’Donnell thinks that the best way to blunt the effectiveness of orchestrated email campaigns is to expose them to public scrutiny. Jonathan Freedland suggests growing a thicker skin. And Mark Clarfield, a doctor at Sokora Hospital in Israel, is surprised at some of the responses to his blog on bmj.com.

Avoiding topics where medicine and politics collide is not an option for the BMJ, nor is this what our readers want, write editors Tony Delamothe and Fiona Godlee in an accompanying editorial. They decide to follow the advice of O’Donnell and Freedland and ignore future orchestrated email campaigns. And they suggest authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders do the same.

The Israeli paper the Jerusalem Post has a summary of the debate in an article titled ‘British Medical Journal’ complains of ‘obscene’ attacks by pro-Israel lobby.

The following is Karl Sabbagh’s analysis the Perils of Criticising Israel.  I’ll post a review of Jonathan Freedlands response soon.

The BMJ’s acting editor received 1000 emails after the journal published an article criticising Israel in 2004. Karl Sabbagh examined them and is reminded of what happened when the magazine World Medicine criticised Israel 27 years ago

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