Petition fights Israeli doctor’s ouster
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Petition fights Israeli doctor’s ouster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Thousands have signed a petition to prevent the Israeli doctor who heads the World Medical Association from being impeached.

The petition in support of Dr. Yoram Blachar, organized by Hadassah, is in response to a letter calling for his ouster for alleged complicity in torturing Palestinians. More than 700 doctors from 43 countries signed the letter seeking Blachar’s dismissal. Blachar, 68, also heads the Israel Medical Association.

The petition backing Blachar says that neither he nor the Israel Medical Association in any way endorses or accepts acts of torture, degrading or inhuman treatment.

"The IMA Ethics Committee recently re-issued and re-publicized their guidelines forbidding the involvement of physicians in torture," it says. "This is in addition to the efforts Dr. Blachar and the IMA have made on behalf of the Palestinian population, including attempts to cooperate with the Palestinian Medical Association, petitions to the Israeli Supreme Court on behalf of ill Palestinians, meetings with government and army officials, with human rights organizations, with the International Red Cross and with the WHO, in an effort to determine what can be done to improve the situation, creating a hotline which physicians could call in order to get ethical advice regarding morally questionable situations that might arise, and more."

The call for Blachar’s impeachment is being led by Derek Summerfield, a psychiatrist and member of the U.K. Medical Committee for Palestine. Some 60 percent of the doctors who signed the petition for Blachar’s removal are Arab or Muslim, Ha’aretz reported.

The letter asks the medical association’s council chair, Dr. Edward Hill, and the council to remove Blachar from office, saying his presidency "makes a mockery of the principles on which the WMA was founded in 1947, which was as a response to egregious abuses by German and Japanese doctors in World War Two."

It accuses Blachar of ignoring evidence that Israeli doctors, working with the country’s security service, participated in the torture of Palestinian detainees.