Scientific American removes anti-Israel op-ed following criticism: 'Unsupported by the facts'

Media top headlines June 28

A reporter accused of passing along misleading information about Gov. Ron DeSantis’ response to the condo collapse and ABC’s Jonathan Karl urging Sen. Joe Manchin to use his leverage to pressure Republicans round out today’s top media headlines.

Scientific American removed an op-ed last week following criticism over its accusations that Israel was practicing “vaccine apartheid” and committing “war crimes” against the Palestinian people.

According to the New York Post, the June 2 op-ed called on academic and healthcare institutions in the U.S. to condemn “long-standing oppression” against Palestinians by Israel, and to adopt the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as policy against the long-time American ally.

The op-ed was retracted after three Nobel Prize winners and 100 other scientists sent a letter to the magazine expressing their disappointment with its decision to publish the article that they wrote was “unsupported by facts.” 

“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 read. “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.”

The letter was signed by a number of doctors, accusing the authors of the op-ed, which included an “AfroLatinx Scholar-Activist,” of falsifying facts. 

“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,” one of the op-ed’s detractors wrote. 

The magazine’s publication of the anti-Israel screed comes on the heels of an open letter signed by journalists from dozens of outlets demanding more fervently critical coverage of the Jewish state.

According to the Post, the op-ed failed to note that the 1993 Oslo Accords tasks the Palestinian Authority with providing healthcare services to its people, and prohibits Israel from providing care unless asked. They also noted that the op-ed’s authors attributed no responsibility to the Hamas terrorist organization for any of the actions taken by Israel that led to Palestinian casualties.

The Post also reported that Sunya Bhutta, a senior editor with the magazine, was a public supporter of the BDS movement, and had previously used language that critics say amounts to calling for the destruction of Israel.

“Israel is an apartheid state and Zionism is white supremacy. #FreePalestine,” Bhutta wrote on Twitter in May. “Israel is the only ally of American white supremacy,” she said in a separate tweet.

“After publication, it was decided that this opinion and analysis piece fell outside our scope of coverage. Sunya Bhutta was not involved in this opinion and analysis piece. We support her right to express her views on social media,” Scientific American senior editor Laura Helmuth told the Post.

Helmuth told co-authors of the letter criticizing the op-ed that the magazine would be “revising [their] internal review processes.”

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