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Scientific American Retracts Story Accusing Israel of “Vaccine Apartheid”

Scientific American should have known better.

Scientific American was forced to retract a highly inappropriate and factually indefensible op-ed post made by a group of doctors condemning Israel for its policies towards the Gaza Strip. The publication made no statement of its own, but when going to the web page of the story in question you can see that it has been taken down and in its place is a message which reads, “Editor’s Note: This article fell outside the scope of Scientific American and has been removed.”

The opinion piece was titled “Health Care Workers Call for Support of Palestinians.” In it Israel was accused of committing “vaccine apartheid,” whatever that was supposed to mean. The story was published on June 2, just after the last round of fighting between Israel and Hamas had ended.

Israel was falsely criticized for not providing Coronavirus vaccines to the Palestinian Authority. No one who made such criticisms asked why the Authority had not been able to get vaccines from the EU or Arab nations. Israel did provide vaccinations to those people who work in the country. It was not clear why Israel was responsible for taking care of the needs of the Palestinian Authority.

Recently the Hamas terrorists who control the Gaza Strip refused to accept one million doses of the Covid-9 vaccination from Israel. They claimed that they could not trust that the vaccinations were not actually poison or tainted in some way. Israel then showed that those vaccinations which would have gone to Gaza were being used on Israeli children.

One cannot defend the inclusion of false accusations, defamations or any kind of mudslinging in a serious publication by hiding behind the cloak of the op-ed pages. Just because a journal makes a disclaimer that the contents of a contributed piece represent the opinions of the writer or writers alone and not the publication’s, the newspaper or magazine is not excused from doing its editorial duties and ensuring that what an editorial purports to be facts are in fact true. There are also limits to what kind of language should be permitted. Scientific American should have known better and not published the piece to begin with.

The New York Post reported that the story was retracted after Scientific American received a letter from three Nobel Prize winners and 100 other scientists criticizing the article. The letter stated, in part, that, “In publishing the cited article, Scientific American’s editors jettisoned appropriate editorial standards and ignored easily verified facts that counter the authors’ one-sided invective.”

The letter went on to say that, “While purporting to be a scientific statement about public health, the paper addressed important historical and political issues superficially, inaccurately, and prejudicially. In reality, the piece is a call for activism that, in our view, is unsupported by the facts.”

According to a report in The Jerusalem Post, Laura Helmuth, editor of the Scientific American, sent a letter in response to Stanley J. Robboy of the Duke Cancer Institute and Edward C. Halperin, chancellor of New York Medical College, who were co-writers of the above letter of complaint. In her letter Helmuth said that Scientific American will revise their internal review process.

“I have been on editorial boards for so many years. You can have differences of opinions, and you can even challenge facts, but it’s quite another thing to completely falsify a fact. So that is what I objected to in the article,” said Robboy about the offensive story, according to the report.

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