Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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Gaza War Fallout: The US Medical Industry Is Not Immune to Antisemitism

“What kind of America are we living in that a physician feels empowered to blast these types of hateful, racist opinions?” asks one Jewish doctor after a wave of antisemitic posts by medics, including some likening Israel to Nazi Germany

Antisemitism has skyrocketed in the United States and other countries since the Oct. 7 massacres in Israel, and the medical field is not immune. Rather, several US physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals have made comments that contradict the Hippocratic Oath and shine a light on the growing issue of antisemitism in the medical field.

“Medicine is being corrupted in a way that is antithetical to our profession. We live on science. We live on truth through science. We treat all humans. That is our life’s calling. And when we see either an ignorance of facts or a misappropriation of facts, it really causes an existential crisis,” Dr. Yael Halaas, the president and founder of the American Jewish Medical Association, told The Media Line.

Halaas, a world-renowned plastic surgeon who runs a practice in Manhattan and has trained thousands of physicians, said she founded the association in part because many Jewish physicians “felt left out of the conversation” and “alienated from colleagues that one day before we were calling amiable colleagues and all of a sudden now there was this divide based on ignorance.”

Watchdog groups such as Canary Mission and StopAntisemitism have highlighted several medical professionals who have made unsavory comments about Israel and Jews. The comments range in their degrees of Jew-hatred. Much of the antisemitism is cloaked in liberalism, masked in pacifism, or tucked away in subtexts. A lot of it references Nazism.

“The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] is the most accomplished military killing machine since the Einsatzgruppen,” Arizona-based surgeon Dr. Sam Durrani posted on Threads, referring to the Nazi death squads responsible for the mass murders of some 1.5 million Jews, mostly by shooting.

“Don’t like Nazi comparisons? Stop acting like them, you are not beyond reproach,” he wrote.

In another post, Durrani wrote: “The Hamas terrorist attacks, horrifying as they were, are a false flag for Netanyahu’s (Likud’s) Final Solution.” The Final Solution was the Nazi plan for the genocide of the Jews, 6 million of whom were ultimately killed in the Holocaust.

Durrani is adamant that he is not antisemitic and that he cares for all patients equally. He also condemns Hamas and claims that he donated to the Anti-Defamation League after Oct. 7.

However, according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” and “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor” are examples of antisemitism.

I think it is the apex of gaslighting when antisemites use Nazi language to describe Zionism, which is just asking for Jews to have the right to self-determination in their homeland

The IHRA has 35 member countries, and its working definition of antisemitism has been adopted by the majority of US states, including Arizona, and 40 countries.

“I think it is the apex of gaslighting when antisemites use Nazi language to describe Zionism, which is just asking for Jews to have the right to self-determination in their homeland,” Dr. Sheila Nazarian, a board-certified plastic surgeon and star of Netflix’s Emmy-nominated series “Skin Decision: Before and After,” told The Media Line.

Nazarian, a Jew from Iran, fled Iranian persecution as a child. She now owns a medical practice in Beverly Hills and is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Canary Mission and StopAntisemitism have found numerous troubling incidents of antisemitism in the medical community.

A group called Doctors Against Genocide attempted to organize an anti-Israel protest on Dec. 28 at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Their online flyer called it an “urgent action” to “stop the genocide in Gaza.” After receiving blowback, they canceled the event and issued a statement saying the action was actually “a planned visit to the Holocaust Memorial Museum as a way to educate and engage the medical community.”

Dr. Ali Imran, who reportedly works at the same hospital as Durrani, is listed on Canary Mission’s website for “spreading hatred of Israel” and “blaming Israel for terrorist war crimes.” He was a featured speaker at an anti-Israel event held in Phoenix, Arizona.

Dr. Tariq Hilal, a board-certified sports and spine physician, was publicly called out by StopAntisemitism.

“In his spare time, [Hilal] refers to Israelis as ‘pigs’ and ‘baby killers’ and compares Zionism to Nazism,” the group posted on the social media platform X.

In late October, within weeks of the Hamas massacre in Israel, a letter was submitted to the esteemed medical journal The Lancet titled “Call to Action: An Open Letter from Global Health Professionals.” It amassed 2,700 signatures. Claiming to speak on behalf of global health workers, the letter called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, while barely condemning Hamas. Neither was there any call for the release of the more than 240 hostages Hamas was holding, including many elderly people and young children. A clause calling for this had been removed after eliciting complaints from signatories. 

The Lancet never published the letter, thanks in large part to a competing letter signed by more than 47,500 international medical professionals that asked the journal to reconsider publication. That letter said the first letter contained misinformation, one-sided, biased views, incomplete context and history, and largely included opinion rather than evidence-based references. “How in good conscience can a health professional call themselves humanitarian and choose not to demand the release of innocent people?” it ended.

“What kind of America are we living in that a physician feels empowered to blast these types of hateful, racist opinions? What kind of medical societies do we have that allow this to happen?” Nazarian asked. “If any other race was spoken about this way, or any other minority group was spoken about this way, there is no way that a physician would be able to get away with it. So why is there a double standard when it comes to Jews?”

Asked by The Media Line whether she would be comfortable taking family members to see a doctor who posted material such as Durrani posted, Nazarian replied, “Absolutely not.”

“What I learned living in Iran and having witnessed antisemitism and Islamist ideology firsthand, is that there are some people who can be educated and some who have been brainwashed so thoroughly from birth, in schools, in their religious institutions, and at their dinner table at home. And so it’s going to take a lot of work to de-brainwash someone with that level of indoctrination,” she said.

Nazarian said that even though many physicians have been reported to their medical boards over antisemitic social media posts, most boards believe that doctors’ opinions on social media do not fall under their medical jurisdiction, and therefore, incidents are typically handled by employers, if at all.

Halaas said she was aware of only one doctor who had been disciplined by a medical board: Dr. Darren Klugman, a Jewish doctor who was the director of pediatric cardiac critical care at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He had posted on X, “Palestinians showing world exactly who they are & what they want, dead Jews & no more #israel. Just savage animals … time to reclaim Gaza since 2005 & end Iran nuclear program. Time is now. #IsraelUnderAttack.”

Klugman’s posts were written in the first two days of the Hamas attacks on Israel, as the horrors of the slaughters, atrocities, and abductions were still emerging, and he had family members in Israel who were unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, cardiologist and Harvard professor Dr. Nasrien Ibrahim, who was showcased by several social media watchdog groups for antisemitic posts, received considerably different treatment. According to StopAntisemitism, Ibrahim “wouldn’t condemn Hamas” after Oct. 7, among other questionable things. Ibrahim recently announced on social media that she had been “elected to the Human Rights Forum Executive Board of the American Public Health Association as the communications chair.”

Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization in the United States, United Arab Emirates, and other countries, and the Oct. 7 attacks marked the single largest loss of Jewish life since the Holocaust.

Around 132 people are still being held in Gaza, of whom at least 25 are known to be dead.

I think the best thing to do is to create awareness and amplify these physicians’ messages so that the public knows their doctors and to be able to choose their doctors wisely with morals and ethics that align with their morals and ethics

Former hostage Mia Schem, a 21-year-old Israeli who was abducted from the Nova music festival and released after 54 grueling days in the late November hostage release deal, said in an interview that ordinary Palestinian families were helping to hide the hostages. Durrani responded on social media by calling Schem’s interview an exploitation of her trauma “to justify child murder” in Gaza.

“I think the best thing to do is to create awareness and amplify these physicians’ messages so that the public knows their doctors and to be able to choose their doctors wisely with morals and ethics that align with their morals and ethics,” Nazarian said.

Halaas said it was a good sign that there were many examples of doctors who came together after Oct. 7, regardless of personal beliefs or external factors, to uphold their duty of care.

“We have doctors of all faiths in my center, and in my particular center, both Muslim and Jewish doctors have made a point of reaffirming their caring and their humanity to each other. … It’s actually been a testament to how physicians really behave, really should behave, really want to behave, and the ideal that we really want to embody,” Halaas said.