OPINIONS

Sat 24 Feb 2024 2:08 pm - Jerusalem Time

Silence of the damned

Our leading humanitarian and civil institutions, including major medical institutions, refuse to condemn the genocide committed by Israel in Gaza. This exposes their hypocrisy and complicity.


There is no functioning health care system left in Gaza. Babies are dying. Children's limbs are amputated without anesthesia. Thousands of cancer patients and those who need dialysis lack treatment. The last cancer hospital in Gaza has stopped operating.


An estimated 50,000 pregnant women do not have a safe place to give birth. They undergo caesarean sections without anesthesia. Abortion rates have risen by 300 percent since the start of the Israeli attack. The wounded are bleeding to death. There is no sanitation or clean water.


Death industry

Hospitals were bombed and destroyed. Nasser Hospital, one of the last functioning hospitals in Gaza, is “on the verge of collapse.” Clinics were destroyed, along with ambulances, about 79 in Gaza and more than 212 in the West Bank. About 400 doctors, nurses, medics and healthcare workers have been killed, more than the total of all healthcare workers killed in conflicts around the world combined since 2016. More than 100 others have been detained, interrogated, beaten, tortured or have disappeared. Israeli soldiers.


Israeli soldiers routinely enter hospitals to carry out forced evacuations – forces entered Al Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis and demanded that doctors and displaced Palestinians leave – in addition to arresting detainees, including the wounded, patients and staff. Israeli soldiers - disguised as hospital workers and civilians - entered Ibn Sina Hospital in Jenin in the West Bank and assassinated three Palestinians as they slept.


Cuts in funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) – collective punishment for alleged involvement in the October 7 attack on 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 workers – will accelerate the disaster, shifting attacks and starvation The lack of health care and the spread of infectious diseases in Gaza led to an unprecedented wave of intentional death industry.


The false accusations - which include the accusation that 10 percent of all UNRWA employees in Gaza have ties to militant Islamist groups - appeared in the Wall Street Journal. Reporter Carrie Keller Lane served in the Israel Defense Forces. Given the numerous lies Israel has used to justify the genocide, including “beheaded children” and “mass rape,” it is reasonable to assume that this may be another fabrication.


The vital United Nations agency, UNRWA, is all that stands between Palestinians in Gaza and starvation. A handful of countries, including Ireland, Norway and Turkey, maintain their funding.


Eight UNRWA employees accused of participating in the October 7 attack in southern Israel, in which 1,139 people were killed and 240 were kidnapped, were shot. Two were suspended. UNRWA promised to conduct an investigation. These represent 0.04 percent of UNRWA employees.


Israel seeks to destroy not only Gaza's healthcare system and infrastructure, but also UNRWA, which provides food and aid to two million Palestinians. The goal is to make Gaza uninhabitable and ethnically cleanse the 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands are already starving. More than 70 percent of housing was destroyed. More than 26,700 people were killed, and more than 65,600 people were injured. Thousands are missing. About 90 percent of Gaza's population was displaced before the war, with many living in the open. Palestinians are forced to eat grass and drink polluted water.


A destructive plan

“It will be impossible to win the war if we do not destroy UNRWA, and this destruction must begin immediately,” Noga Arbel, a former Israeli Foreign Ministry official, said during a debate in the Israeli parliament on January 4.


“UNRWA is an organization that perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in 2018. It also reinforces the narrative of the so-called “right of return” with the aim of eliminating the State of Israel, and thus UNRWA must disappear.


An unnamed senior Israeli official praised the suspension of funding for UNRWA, but insisted on Wednesday that the government was not calling for its closure.


More than 152 UNRWA staff in Gaza – including school principals, teachers, health workers, a gynecologist, engineers, support staff and a psychologist – have been killed since the start of the Israeli attacks. More than 141 UNRWA facilities were bombed. The death toll is the largest loss of personnel during any conflict in the history of the United Nations.


The destruction of healthcare facilities and the targeting of doctors, nurses, paramedics and staff is shameful. It means that the most vulnerable, the sick, infants, injured and elderly, and those who care for them, are often sentenced to death.


Palestinian doctors are calling on doctors and medical organizations from around the world to denounce the attack on the healthcare system and mobilize their institutions in protest.


“The world must condemn the actions against medical professionals that are taking place in Gaza,” writes Al-Shifa Hospital director Mohammed Abu Salamiya, who was arrested by the Israelis along with other health staff in November 2023 while being evacuated with a WHO convoy, and who remains detained. “This correspondence is a call to every human being, all medical communities and all healthcare professionals around the world to support the cessation of these destructive activities in and around hospitals, which is a civil obligation in accordance with international law, the United Nations and the World Health Organization.”

But these institutions—with some notable exceptions, such as the American Public Health Association, which has called for a ceasefire—have either remained silent or—as in the case of Dr. Matthew Wynia, director of the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado—excuse Israeli war crimes. These doctors – who somehow find it acceptable that a child is killed in Gaza every 10 minutes on average – are complicit in genocide and contributing to the violation of the Geneva Convention. They support death and are not messengers of life.


Moral bankruptcy

Robert Jay Lifton wrote in his book The Nazi Doctors: Medical Murder and the Psychology of Genocide that “genocidal projects require the active participation of educated professionals—doctors, scientists, engineers, military commanders, lawyers, clergy, university professors, and other educators—who unite not only to create the grounds for extermination collectivism, but much of the ideological rationale, moral climate and organizational process.”


A group of 100 Israeli doctors in November 2023 defended the bombing of hospitals in Gaza, claiming they were used as command centers for Hamas, a charge that Israel has been unable to verify.


Deans of American medical schools and leading medical organizations, especially the American Medical Association, have joined the ranks of universities, law schools, churches, and the media to turn their backs on the Palestinians. It closed a discussion on the ceasefire resolution among its members and called for “medical neutrality,” although it abandoned “medical neutrality to denounce Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”


There is a cost to condemning this genocide, a cost they are not willing to pay. They are afraid of being attacked. They fear ruining their careers. They fear losing funding. They fear losing status. They fear persecution. They fear social isolation. This fear makes them complicit.


What about those who speak? They are described as anti-Semitic and supporters of terrorism. George Washington University clinical psychology professor Lara Sheehy has been fired from her job. Former head of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, was denied a fellowship at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University; Because of his "alleged bias against Israel."


San Francisco professor Rabab Abdel Hadi has been sued for supporting Palestinian rights. Shahad Abu Salama was suspended from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK after a vicious smear campaign, although the institution later settled her claim that she was discriminated against. Professor Jasbir Puar at Rutgers University is a constant target of the Israel lobby and endures constant harassment. Medical students and faculty in Canada face suspension or expulsion if they publicly criticize Israel.


The danger is not only condemning Israeli crimes. More importantly, the danger is the moral bankruptcy and cowardice of institutions and their leaders.


Racist ideology

This brings me to Dr. Rupa Maria, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, whose calls to stop bombing hospitals and study the impact of Zionism as a racist ideology unleashed a torrent of vitriolic attacks against her, attacks that were implicitly endorsed by her medical school.


She has been slandered as an anti-Semite and targeted by Mission Canary, a Zionist organization that seeks to distort and destroy the careers of students and faculty who criticize Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights. She canceled speaking engagements and received death threats and messages such as: "Kill yourself, you whining redneck," and "White people are the greatest people on earth. You know it."


History will not forgive us and will not judge us kindly. But he will honor those who, despite the threats and siege, found the courage to say no.

Source: Aljazeera

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Silence of the damned

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