[Opinion] Why Doctors Without Borders Has an Israel Problem
On June 30, 2016, Jason Cone, Executive Director of Medecins Sans Frontiers-USA (MSF-USA, Doctors Without Borders) attempted to defend his organization from scrutiny over its politicized, anti-Israel bias. He did so through a strawman argument, claiming that his organization was being falsely accused of antisemitism. In this way, Cone deflected attention from the larger issue, namely, that it is wholly inappropriate for a humanitarian organization such as MSF, to assume a one-sided politicized agenda on a complex, multi-faceted issue like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Along with his colleagues, he has adopted a narrow understanding of this protracted conflict and has decided to agitate against Israel, while embracing the worst of Palestinian extremism.
Jason Cone’s own July 7, 2015, opinion piece contributed to this demonization by presenting Palestinian rocket attacks against Israeli civilians as being “called acts of resistance on one side and terrorism on the other.” Furthermore, he mentioned a rise in “Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians (mostly settlers),” suggesting that some terrorist attacks are more acceptable than others.
These statements and activities demonstrate how MSF, across its various branches, has adopted an anti-Israel narrative and is openly supporting one side of the conflict. It is hard to put much faith in Cone’s pronouncement that “Fundamental to MSF’s work are the humanitarian principles of independence, neutrality and impartiality. These principles mean that we stand apart from political interests, that we don’t take sides.” This is the image that MSF wishes to project, but its track record shows otherwise.