Jerusalem – A new study released by NGO Monitor finds that several highly influential non-governmental medical organizations active in the Arab-Israeli conflict consistently violate their self-proclaimed moral principles. These NGOs, despite claiming medical professionalism, impartiality, and universality as part of their mandates, have politicized medicine, using the rhetoric of “health” as a means to demonize Israel and discriminate against Israelis.
NGO Malpractice – The Political Abuse of Medicine, Morality, and Science illustrates how several medical NGOs accuse Israel of “human rights violations,” and falsely allege that Israel denies Palestinians’ access to medical care, ostensibly violating their right to health. The study, authored by Gerald M. Steinberg and Naftali Balanson, also demonstrates the roles of mainstream media and medical journals as facilitators and “force-multipliers” for the NGOs’ political agendas.
The evidence examines the biases of The Lancet medical journal and five medical NGOs: Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors without Borders), Medical Aid for the Palestinians (MAP), Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), Palestinian Medical Relief Society (PMRS), and Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP).
“This report shows that many medical NGOs are highly active in the Durban strategy, formulated at the 2001 UN Durban Conference, which seeks to isolate Israel,” NGO Monitor President Gerald Steinberg said. “They are openly supportive of Palestinian political goals, and exploit their medical credentials as a tactic for furthering this agenda and the Palestinian narrative. However, we also note that there are NGOs such as MSF, that have tried to avoid such politicization.”
Prof. Steinberg continued: “When repeating the NGO allegations, media platforms ignore the obvious politicization of these groups; the ‘halo effect’ of humanitarian groups exempts NGOs from the scrutiny that is applied to other political actors. Although officials from these medical NGOs have no legal expertise, their conclusions regarding alleged ‘violations of international law’ are repeated and accepted without question.”
The 51-page study also provides policy recommendations for medical NGOs, their funders, and for media and medical journals.