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Why the silence over anti-Semitism among our doctors?

Article’s tags: October 7, Philosophy & Morality


“When the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust takes place, what do my fellow Jewish colleagues hear from our humanitarian profession? Nothing.” “When the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust takes place, what do my fellow Jewish colleagues hear from our humanitarian profession? Nothing.”

I’ve never really understood what this meant, but since October 7 the gates of hell certainly have been opened inside the medical profession in this country.

News of the massacres in southern Israel filtered out slowly as horrific details continued to emerge in the days and weeks after Hamas’s attack. From Israel’s ground zero, it caused a disturbing ripple effect that spread across the world and took root in our communities in Australia. As a practising doctor, I have observed this effect in the medical profession.

The profession has always been a tough place to work. But what I and Jewish colleagues have experienced in response to the terror attack on Israel – and Israel’s subsequent response – was a shock.

What I encountered at work and across various online groups was an unexpected silence. There were no messages of support. No collective condemnation of anti-Semitism. No solidarity for Jewish doctors or medical staff.

I found this silence from a profes­sion known for its vocal commitment to social activism puz­zling and distressing. Whether it was promot­ing a Yes vote for the Indigenous voice, high­lighting the plight of Ukrainians or asylum-seekers, or support of Black Lives Matter, it was a matter of course for the medical profession to support the cause of the day. Je suis Charlie, anyone?

READ MORE: but since October 7 the gates of hell certainly have been opened inside the medical profession in this country | Anti-Semitism, caution shaped Vatican’s Holocaust silence | What I encountered at work and across various online groups was an unexpected silence | There are some who say medical institutions and professionals should be above politics, which may be true | Anti-Semitism surges online in China | Campus cowards, bullies of left drive anti-Israel activism

Yet when the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust takes place, what do my fellow Jewish colleagues hear from our humanitarian profession? Nothing.

We heard world leaders, companies and celebrities call out the attacks, as well as the blatant acts of anti-Semitism we have since witnessed, but the wider medical profession – supposedly dedicated to human life – said nothing at all.

There are some who say medical institutions and professionals should be above politics, which may be true. But when there is such a stark contrast in responses to other worldwide events, where we have Wear It Purple Day at work and show “allyship” to minorities in myriad ways, then the silence is truly troubling.

I grew so agitated by this silence (don’t Jewish lives matter, too?) that I decided to ask a few trusted colleagues whether they would be prepared to make a public statement condemning the atrocities across social media groups (primarily on Facebook) that include thousands of Australian doctors. It started off well enough, with some genuine support, then descended into something I have never experienced.

Palestine supporters rally outside the Sydney Opera House. Palestine supporters rally outside the Sydney Opera House.

When we, a group of Jewish doctors, naively sought some compassion from our colleagues, explaining how 3000 years of trauma had been unleashed in the wake of the October 7 attacks, our history was weaponised against us.

Across these groups, not only was Israel called an apartheid state (clearly by people who have never been there) and accused of ethnic cleansing but Jews were compared to Nazis and Gaza to a concentration camp. There was misinformation and lies, and demands we produce evidence proving babies were brutally murdered and rapes had taken place. For the life of me I cannot understand how highly educated people could display such wilful ignorance; how they justify such acts of brutality and evil because of “context”. Perhaps it is selective blindness because the cognitive dissonance of admitting what Hamas did is just too much?

Perhaps it is nothing more than the age-old hatred of Jews, and by extension Israel? Or perhaps it is evil dressed in compassionate, humanitarian clothes?

The responses I encountered demonstrate a shocking lack of knowledge of easily accessible and documented history. It also represented deny, attack, and reverse victim and offender – the classic narcissistic move of gaslighting.

According to many doctors, the only victims are the innocents in Gaza and the good doctors risking their lives to save them; the only people we are allowed to show compassion for are Palestinians. That’s not to say they aren’t worthy of compassion – of course they are. But in my view it is nothing more than false compassion if you can’t, in the same breath, express grief or even acknowledge the brutality and deaths that occurred on the Israeli side of the fence.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders and the World Health Organisation not only have contributed to this moral indifference but actively have spread hatred in their bias against Israel.

A Doctors Without Borders’ team care for patients on a medical evacuation train on its way to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. A Doctors Without Borders’ team care for patients on a medical evacuation train on its way to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

While countless studies demonstrate anti-Semitism is on the rise, many of us are afraid to send our children to school or open the door to an unexpected knock. But those who have made anti-Semitic statements and spread lies and hatred in all this have the gall to say how anxious they feel about being reported to the medical regulator, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, for breaching the code of conduct.

Both as a Jew and Jewish doctor these past 3½ weeks have been the most difficult of my career. Any illusions of collegiality and compassion from within my profession (as distinct from a few individuals) have been shattered. I look at my colleagues wondering who I can trust. We know doctors joined the Nazi party in far greater numbers than many other professions. They were responsible for incomprehensible brutality and murder. If you wonder why this might be or how this could happen – as I often do – you need look no further than what has happened in the medical profession in the past few weeks.

Though this has been a dark and troubling period, I must acknowledge the genuine kindness among colleagues who have reached out with words of support, empathy, compassion and prayer. It is they who give me hope that we can emerge from this a healthier profession, where hate speech and anti-Semitism are never tolerated.

This article has been written under an assumed name because of fear of reprisal.


# reads: 718

Original piece is https://www.theaustralian.com.au/commentary/why-the-silence-over-antisemitism-among-our-doctors/news-story/d29575507ee051adee133a3a2d1769ac


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