Updated June 14: Scientific American Removes Article Promoting BDS


After concerns were expressed by CAMERA staff and members regarding the science magazine's hosting of a BDS propaganda piece based on falsehoods (that formed the basis of a BDS petition), Scientific American withdrew the article with the following Editor's Note:

"This article fell outside the scope of Scientific American and has been removed."


Founded in 1845, Scientific American is a venerable, American popular science magazine, published for the last 13 years by the Springer Nature group – an amalgam of the Nature, Macmillan and Springer Science & Business media. But for the past year since coming under the helm of science journalist Laura Helmuth, it has veered in a political direction.

On June 2, 2021, the newspaper published an "analysis article" that is being circulated as a petition by anti-Israel BDS activists on social media. Although the popular science magazine presented it as “an opinion and analysis article,” it is actually a pastiche of clichéd, anti-Israel libels and pro-terrorist propaganda devoid of truth that urges adherence to the antisemitic BDS campaign. The brazenness of its demands is shocking!

The authors introduce themselves as “health care workers and faculty from around the world who stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom and liberation.” They are mostly young, Palestinian BDS activists who are clearly far more passionately involved in anti-Israel incitement than in promoting good healthcare and medicine around the world.

The question is why would the publication's editors cast aside the scientific tradition of fact-based inquiry in order to present pro-terrorist propaganda and a BDS agenda disguised as an analytic article?

The anti-Israel screed parroting Palestinian terror groups’ lies and incitement against Israel notably ignores the war crimes of Hamas and Palestinian terror groups under its auspices. For example:

1) The targeting of Israeli civilian centers with more than 4,300 rockets.

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, "4,360 rockets were fired at Israel, of which 3,573 fell inside Israeli territory, the rest falling either inside the Gaza Strip or into the sea. The Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepted about 90% of the rockets. Eleven civilians were killed by rocket fire and an IDF soldier was killed by an anti-tank missile. Several hundred people were injured and there was property damage to homes, schools, industry, commerce and agriculture. The IDF attacked about 1,500 terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip." 

2) The placing of its own population in danger by embedding terrorists, weapons and militant activity among Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Hamas tunnels were built near and under civilian homes. Rocket launchers were placed in residential areas. Offices and command centers were situated in multistory buildings among civilians.

The IDF engaged in defensive, precision targeting of key infrastructure and personnel belonging to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including:

a) Hamas’ tunnel system: Dubbed the “metro," they were located in Gaza City, Rafah and Khan Yunis and used as command centers, hideaways and for weapons transport.

b) Terrorist leaders and operatives: It is estimated that about 70 commanders of different rank and 200 terrorist operatives were killed.

c) Rocket launchers: 340 attacks were on high-trajectory rocket launchers; 230 attacks on surface-to-surface rocket launchers; and some 35 on mortar shell launchers.

d) Weapons-manufacture: Weapons manufacturing as well as research and development facilities were targeted, and weapons manufacturers were killed. Weapon depots were also hit.

e) Hamas administration buildings: Buildings housing Hamas administration, security forces, banks used to fund terrorist activities were hit in Israeli airstrikes.

f) Terrorist infrastructure: Israeli airstrikes also targeted terrorist bases, posts, command centers and terrorist coordination centers in multistory buildings.

Before striking the embedded terrorist targets, the IDF notified Palestinians civilians, allowing them to evacuate the premises before the strike.

It is therefore Hamas and the terrorist groups under its auspices —and not Israel—who are the ones guilty of war crimes targeting and endangering civilians.

3) Palestinians and Arab-Israeli civilians, including children, were killed by Palestinian rockets that fell short of their Israeli Jewish targets.

An analysis of fatalities by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center records eight children under the age of 18 were killed by misfired Palestinian rockets during just the first two days of Israel’s defense operation.

All these war crimes by Hamas and Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza are ignored by the activists who penned the petition/article. Using blatant falsehoods and the terrorists’ self-justifying propaganda, they fault Israel for defending its civilians from death and destruction.

Regarding Israel’s use of the Iron Dome to shoot down the thousands of deadly terrorist missiles heading toward Israeli population centers, the letter decries “the stark disproportionality [that] should be unacceptable to everyone.” The  message is that it is unfair and unacceptable that Israel has prevented the terrorists from achieving their murderous goals.

Turning truth on its head, the article falsely accuses Israel of Hamas’ crimes, i.e. of deliberately targeting civilians:

… We have watched in horror at the renewed, yet ever-present, Israeli state violence meted against Palestinians…as the terror of Israeli artillery rained down on Palestinian homes… of families losing entire households (including children) when U.S.-made bombs destroyed their homes; and of healthcare workers and their places of work being targeted for destruction. These violations of international law (under the Fourth Geneva Convention) are made possible by military and financial aid supplied by the U.S. government.

As we pointed out above, the IDF took great care to avoid civilian casualties while targeting rocket launchers, command centers and terrorist infrastructure.

The petition/article’s hook is the big lie about “the ongoing decimation of [the Palestinian] health care system” by Israel:

For Palestinians living under the yoke of Israeli settler colonial rule, the violence, human rights violations, and poor health outcomes they endure have been prevalent for over seven decades, since 1948, the year of the Nakba, when the Palestinian people were initially dispossessed.

But as CAMERA communication director Jonah Cohen points out in a recent article, all the standard health indexes used worldwide to measure a people’s overall physical well-being—such as Palestinian life expectancy, infant mortality, population growth, access to water, etc.—demonstrate just the opposite, that Palestinian life and health have actually improved since the establishment of the Jewish state. Moreover, he correctly notes, “if Palestinian leaders hadn’t rejected numerous offers for statehood—in 2000 at Camp David, in 2001 at Taba, in 2008 after the Annapolis Conference, to name just three—then Palestinian health would now be on par with the world’s most flourishing nations.”

To bolster the lie, the article trots out the old, debunked Covid -19 libel:

Despite its responsibilities as an occupier under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel continues to deny Palestinians essential care and resources, obstruct access, and actively bombard healthcare infrastructure and roadways. Nowhere is this abdication of responsibility more visible than in the medical and vaccine apartheid witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic. While Israel is hailed by medical institutions and prominent health experts as a model of success for mass vaccination of the Israeli population (over 60 percent of Israel is vaccinated), barely 5 percent of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories are vaccinated, instead reliant on scarce COVAX donations. This inequity is blatantly omitted by those who tout Israel’s vaccine rollout “success.” We refuse to ignore the truth that is in plain sight.

These lies have been thoroughly debunked in many articles by CAMERA. (See here, here and here.)

The authors end with the demand that they and others like them be given freedom to slander and lie about the Jewish state “without fear of retribution, harassment or silencing from anyone within their respective institutions and circle of influence (including funders)” and that U.S. health care systems, academic institutions and health care professionals adopt “the standards set forth by the [antisemitic] Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.” The brazen hostility with which BDS activists, like the authors of this article, are now operating is demonstrated by this slanderous diatribe against the Jewish state and the attempt to silence those who speak out against it.

That a mainstream popular, science magazine has turned itself into a platform for BDS propaganda is indeed disturbing. Those who value truth and facts cannot allow themselves to be cowed and silenced by the increasing aggression of anti-Zionists and anti-Semites.

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