Top doctor slams group's first aid course for West Bank protestors
Dr. Yoram Blachar: Physicians for Human Rights is a 'radical political group disguised as a medical organization.'
The president of the World Medical Association, Dr. Yoram Blachar, blasted Physicians for Human Rights organization on Friday for giving a first aid course to anti-security fence protestors in the West Bank village of Bili'in.
"Physicians for Human Rights have proved that they are a radical political group disguised as a medical organization," Blachar, who is Israeli, told Haaretz.
The humanitarian group said in a pamphlet that it gave the demonstrators the course "in solidarity with their struggle against Israeli occupation."
The demonstrations against the security fence, which Israel built in response to wave of suicide attacks during the second intifada, often turn into violent clashes between the protestors and Israeli security forces.
The people of Bili'in, Na'alin and other West Bank villages say the fence cuts them off from their lands.
Danny Filc, of Physicians for Human Rights, said: "By not opposing the occupation, it is Blachar who is taking a political stand while claiming to be apolitical."
He explained that, "Not resisting occupation is a political action since it supports the occupation's existence. It's the same as opposing the occupation."
Filc, a 49-year-old doctor from Tel Aviv who immigrated to Israel from Argentina 25 years ago, conceded that his organization was political, but said this was "being used by people like Blachar to delegitimize PHR."
The Physicians for Human Rights Web site says the group was founded in 1988 "with the goal of struggling for human rights," but does not classify the organization as political.
The group's founder, Dr. Ruchama Marton, recently signed a letter of protest to the World Medical Association, calling for Blachar's removal as president of the international medical ethics body for alleged complicity in torturing Palestinians.
Blachar, who also heads the Israel Medical Association, said when he attended the British Medical Association's annual conference last month, he heard two speakers rely on reports by PHR to compare Israeli doctors to their Sri Lankan and Sudanese counterparts.
"I commend their efforts to help the medical situation of people in the West Bank," Blachar said. "But by taking a concealed political stance, PHR is causing tremendous damage to the reputation and good name of Israeli doctors abroad, while not helping Palestinians in any shape or form."