Scientific American publishes misleading and distorted op-ed lauding Palestine and demonizing Israel, accompanied by a pro-Palestinian petition

June 7, 2021 • 12:30 pm

Well, the latest scientific journal or magazine to go to hell in a handbasket is Scientific American, which under the editorial guidance of Laura Helmuth has published a putrid piece of pure pro-Palestinian propaganda. It’s an op-ed piece apparently written by a group of Palestinian BDS activists (one author wishes to be anonymous). purveying the usual distortions, omissions, and outright lies.  If there were a counter piece refuting those lies (there is below, but not at Sci Am), it would be somewhat better, but not much. Instead, the op-ed is linked to a Google Document petition (surely not posted by Sci Am) that you can sign in solidarity with Palestine.

First of all, a science magazine has no business taking an ideological stand like this, particularly one replete with lies and distortions. What was Scientific American thinking? Do they fancy themselves to be Mother Jones? Read for yourself.

Here’s the petition (click on screenshot)

The article has the usual palaver, but its biggest distortion is accusing Israel of war crimes and targeting civilians, when the truth is precisely the opposite: during the recent skirmish, the Palestinians fired 4,360 rockets deliberately targeting civilians, while Israel avoided civilian killing to the best of its ability while trying to disable Hamas. Israel issues warnings before attacking; does Palestine do that? No, because their aim is to kill civilians without warning. How come nobody, least of all these authors, mention that?

The article decries the “disproportionality” of deaths, when many Palestinian dead (perhaps more than half) were Hamas fighters, and the op-ed seems almost regretful that more Israelis did not die (the “disproportionality” argument makes little sense when one side has an Iron Dome and the other side fires rockets and has no defense). There is no mention of Palestinian war crimes, which include not just the targeting of civilians but the use of human shields that guarantee civilian deaths.

The article blames Israel for not supplying healthcare, including COVID vaccines,  to the Palestinians. But in fact the Oslo Agreement specifies that responsibility for healthcare in the Palestinian Territories resides solely with the Palestinian Authority, and that specifically includes vaccinations. (It also doesn’t mention that Israel did supply a lot of COVID vaccine to Palestine, even to its leaders.) The article supports the BDS movement, a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate the state of Israel. The article indicts Israel for being an apartheid state, when in fact the Palestinian Territories are FAR more of an “apartheid state” than is Israel, for Palestine oppresses gays, atheists, apostates, and women, and forbids Jews to live in the Territories or buy property there (the latter is a capital crime). Plenty of Arabs, of course, live in Israel.

The article doesn’t mention the infamous Palestinian “pay for slay” program, in which the families of terrorists who kill Israeli Jews, civilians or soldiers, get ample financial rewards while in prison, and get jobs when they get out. (Here’s a recent example.) How godawful is that? Well, we don’t bring up things like that when we’re defending Palestine.

The Scientific American op-ed is so outstandingly stupid that one can only wonder what the editors of the magazine were thinking when they published it. Did they not do any fact-checking? Or are they abysmally ignorant of what has and is happening in the Israel/Palestine conflict? Why did they “take sides” by publishing the first political op-ed I’ve seen in the magazine (granted, I may have missed some). This angers me because the lies are as invidious as Trump’s claims that the election was “stolen.”

Well, I won’t go on, for the Scientific American screed is fully taken apart by the article below from CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis). And yes, by indicting Israel for “war crimes” while completely ignoring the crimes of Hamas and lying to or misleading readers, the op-ed becomes a totally one-sided propaganda piece. Read it for yourself, and then read the article below. It’s a good thing I don’t read Sci. Am.; dreck like this gets called to my attention by readers. I don’t think calling the Sci Am op-ed “shilling for terrorists” to be too far off the mark.

The article also refutes the op-ed’s claim that Israel has “decimated” the Palestinian healthcare system, which in fact is better than ever. (And it would be a very good system if Palestine would start spending money on healthcare instead of offensive rockets, and had it accepted one of Israel’s many offers for a two-state solution.) Do the authors mention that every year thousands of Palestinians, including Hamas leaders and their relatives, are treated in Israeli hospitals as a gesture of good will? No, of course not.

An op-ed so woefully ignorant or biased doesn’t belong in any respectable venue, much less in Scientific American. But I guess we can expect more to come. If you have any respect for the truth, you might ponder if you want to continue subscribing.

39 thoughts on “Scientific American publishes misleading and distorted op-ed lauding Palestine and demonizing Israel, accompanied by a pro-Palestinian petition

  1. I hope you get a chance to see the newly released movie Oslo. It may be a refreshing break from the current situation. The film at first seemed to favor Palestinians but in the end it was obvious how Israel really is in a constant and stressful balancing act, and the high moral standards of the leaders of both sides.

    Not being a student, I wouldn’t know how accurate this is, but it does offer a respite to intense feelings on both sides, hopefully. I’d be interested to read your review of this movie – it may be very different from mine!

    1. Likewise. I used to look forward to every issue and was rarely disappointed, but in recent years it’s spiraled horrendously, and its “blogs” online section in particular is embarrassing. As a scientific American, I find it terribly depressing.

      1. Same here. They are now the American analogue of New Scientist in the UK—enthusiastic endorsers of multiverse quakery and woketariat anti-scientism.

      2. I’ve been reading Sci Am for as long as I can remember and share your concerns.

        I got hooked on the graphics first, circa age 5. My Dad suscribed and the graphics were amazing. Curiosity followed – “Dad what is a proton?”.

        I was 10 years old when we landed on the moon. Every month i waited for the new issue to arrive in our mailbox. My father and I bonded through science, and this magazine influenced my life.

        I’ve noticed the magazine deteriorate, especially over the past year. Sure there are still interesting articles, but it looks like the magazine is less interested in the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) than the social “sciences” (quotes intended).

        The “forum” section and letters to the editor are the worst example. Where historically these sections had interesting discussion of science topics, now we have discussions on political topics.

        This trend is to the detriment of science and resembles the inquisition more that the age of scientific enlightenment.

        Sci Am need to feed our budding scientists with questions about the nature of universe, not politics. There are already enough magazines covering politics.

  2. My guess is that at some point we will learn of a grant to SciAm that can ultimately be traced to Qatar. Qatar has spent many billions of dollars corrupting academia with this sort of nonsense. It is all too familiar.

  3. The more depressing option is that the editors knew that the claims in the editorial were false, rather than that they just failed to do their jobs in fact-checking.

    1. An even more depressing option is that the editors didn’t care about the facts so much as the additional audience (and therefore advertising revenue) they might gain.

      I didn’t realise until recently that I was following Solzhenitsyn’s advice (in his essay Live Not By Lies) by not subscribing to, nor buying in retail, a newspaper or journal that distorts or hides the underlying facts. The New Scientist and then Scientific American fall under this category for me.

  4. Shocking lies and propaganda. I am sorry Jerry that you and all Jews have to read these articles of untruths. Shameful.

  5. Anti-Scientific American went down the same regressive path that FTB went down more than a decade ago, and more recently, Friendly Atheist and various “humanist” organisations. Like them, they carry water for genocidal Jew haters and antisemites by constantly pushing disinformation and a hate narrative that essentially calls for the annihilation of Israel. All the while, they call themselves “progressives”…

    1. Dear SciAm Editor(s),

      You are evidently on a suicide mission re infiltrating your magazine with your political ideology. I’m not sure why you think you are so important that your views must be heard, nor why you haven’t figured out that you are alienating a subset of your subscribers. I plan on supporting your suicide mission by not renewing my subscription. Hope that works for you.

  6. Respectfully, and I know I’m in the minority here, I can’t agree that Israel “avoided civilian killing to the best of its ability.” Whenever you drop bombs on a crowded city, civilian killing is inevitable, however many warnings you deliver. I realize that Israel was attempting to kill militants rather than children, but the fact is, according to this source and many others, Israel ended up killing around 70 children. Is killing 70 children worth it to kill an untold number of real Hamas militants who themselves only managed to kill about a dozen Israelis? In my opinion, Hamas’s murders and Israel’s murders are both war crimes.

    1. You may have a good case Jayso. But for me, it’s a logical, not emotional case. I live on the Canadian border and love my Canadian neighbors. If they were shooting rockets and mortars and other lethal weapons at my neighbors and me, I would expect my government to do its darnedest to stop the attacks and, if possible, annihilate the jerks doing it. Period. I deserve to live and no one is entitled to try and take my life or the lives of my neighbors. If they do, they must be stopped at whatever cost. That principle holds true in the Middle East as well.

      1. While I agree with you here to some degree, I live just on the correct side of the border, but Israel missed a huge public relations victory. Imagine if the Israelis had let its Iron Dome do its thing. Sure the may have had more casualties, but what a public relations coup it would have been.

        1. I’m sorry, but I don’t think you realize that in this world there is nothing Israel can do to get a “public relations victory.” Do you think the world would applaud if Israel just let its people die in much greater numbers and didn’t try to stop the rockets?

          Sorry, but there’s no way Israel could have responded that the world would have applauded. And seriously, you think they shoud just let their citizens die rather than try to stop the rockets, all to osculate the public approbation that would never come?

          It’s weird to me that you don’t even attempt to address the other things I mention. What you’re saying is that it’s bad for the Jews to defend themselves except via the Iron Dome.

    2. When I hear responses such as yours, I always want to ask what response by Israel would have been acceptable to them.
      This is a conversation I have had before, and I find that often the person making the argument is understandably upset over the suffering of innocents, but does not offer workable alternatives.

      Not responding to Hamas attacks is not an option. A purely defensive stance would only last as long as the iron dome system can be replenished and reloaded. It is a great system, but it does not have infinite capabilities. It also has limited use against very low angle and close range attacks.

      Hoping that you can keep feeding Tamir interceptor missiles into the Iron Dome system until the Iranians run out of missiles or money is going to be a losing strategy.

      Hamas and the other terrorist franchises make a point of attacking from behind human shields. Doing that puts the IDF in a bad situation, which is a deliberate strategy. If a person is firing at you while holding a child in front of them, the ideal response is to back off. Israel cannot do that here, there is nowhere to go. So that option is out. You are left in the position of having to weigh your confidence in hitting the bad guy against the non-zero risk of harm coming to the child. As you weigh that risk, the bad guy is continuing to take pot shots at your kids.

      Those of us who have experienced urban combat have lived this dilemma. Not as an intellectual exercise, but as a life and death choice, in a situation where any hesitation in making that decision will increase the risk exponentially.

      I can also add from personal experience that it is typical for the IDF to go further in their efforts to prevent civilian casualties than any other military I know of, including our own. It is honestly very upsetting to me when I hear the kinds of criticism Israel receives more or less constantly.

    3. Self defense is not a war crime. Hamas constantly launches attacks on Israel from schools, hospitals and other civilian areas, for the sole purpose of killing their own people, so they can play the victim, and that is a war crime. Unfortunately this monstrous campaign of lies and death has worked all too well, and now countless people on the left favor this genocidal, murderous, corrupt right wing government over the only democracy in the Middle East. And let us be clear, the reason for the low Israeli death rate is that Hamas rockets are launched from flimsy launchers made of angle iron which are designed to be erected in civilian areas, used and removed in less than half an hour, leaving their own people to suffer death and dismemberment. This is because Hamas does not give a damn about attacking Israel or the lives of the people of Gaza. Currently the leadership of Hamas includes several hundred millionaires and two or three dozen billionaires. Each time they force Israel to respond to their aggression, they get billions in rebuilding funds, most of which are pocketed by their leaders. That is all they care about.

  7. “Israel ended up killing around 70 children.”

    You do not know that. What we know is that – supposedly – 70 young Palestinians died. Many of them were killed by rockets fired from Gaza, not Israel.. Many of them were members of Hamas.

    The Palestinians initiated this, and Israel has the right to respond. Their actions are NOT war crimes. The blood is at the hands of the Palestinians here. Who – by their own explicit words – welcome it. There is film of Palestinian parents deliberately not moving to safety in the face of Israeli warnings, saying they would welcome the death of their children to further their cause.

    To make the actions of the two sides here equivocal is to miss the point entirely.

    1. Bullseye, RL. And this is to say nothing of those killed by Hamas rockets falling short within Gaza, or Hamas’ long-time deliberate policy of embedding its rocket launchers and other ordnance in heavily populated civilian districts. And just how much of that ’70 dead Palestinian children’ figure has come from any more reliable source than Hamas’-controlled civilian medical agencies?

    1. As I understand it, they also found weapons in a locked room in that school. This is not the first time that Hamas has stored weapons in a Gaza school. UNRWA just keeps supporting these schools regardless.

  8. Seeing the political slant and calls for deplatforming people in disagreement with SciAm, I let my subscription lapse at the end of 2020. This is a plain case of partisan capture. What I would love to find out is how did it happen.

    1. I believe I discovered why in my post above. Qatar evidently funds SciAm. Qatar has literally spent billions on corrupting the ME narrative in academia, and evidently does this also in media.

    2. Me too. I sent the renewal form back with the words “Too woke, please cancel”.

      My Dad subscribed and I’ve been reading Sci Am since I can remember. I remember when the letters and forum sections were about science, not politics. Now it appears the editor is more interested in identity politics than scientific discovery, kind of like choosing the inquisition over the enlightenment, Torquemada over Newton/Galileo/Einstein.

  9. According to the UN, 256 people died in Gaza of whom exactly half (128) were civilians, but it doesn’t say how many of those civilians were killed by Hamas rockets falling short. Israel says 200 of those killed in Gaza were fighters, Hamas says the number of militants killed was 80. Israel also claims that the building used by Associated Press was being used by Hamas to jam the Iron Dome shield, although that hasn’t been independently verified.

  10. Dear SciAmEditor(s),

    You are evidently on a suicide mission re infiltrating your magazine with your political ideology. I’m not sure why you think you are so important that your views must be heard, nor why you haven’t figured out that you are alienating a subset of your subscribers. I plan on supporting your suicide mission by not renewing my subscription. Hope that works for you.

  11. Many years ago I cancelled my subscription to that once very good magazine with the comment that they should be honest and rename the magazine as “Socialist American”.

  12. The irony never ceases to amaze that the country that tries to avoid killing civilians “to the best of its ability” nevertheless routinely kills so many of them. Though such irony doesn’t seem to register with this author who questions why anyone complains about disproportionality when one side “has no defense”. Apparently when you attack the defenseless, somehow this makes you morally superior.

    Such morals are, of course, relative. Charges of apartheid are not met with evidence countering the fact that Israel is an apartheid state, rather anti-muslim bigotry dressed up in drag charges a whataboutism in the direction of a disingenuous defense of gay rights, feminism and atheism. Apparently one cannot have such rights without denying muslims self-determination and without stealing their homes, keeping them in an open air prison and implementing a policy of slow moving ethnic cleansing. Apparently such things are a package deal: you either support gay rights or you oppose anti-Muslim bigotry: you can’t possibly expect both of those things at the same time.

    This author goes on to lament that those who kill Israelis are financially rewarded. Again the irony is lost that no such qualms are had in regards to Israeli soldiers are are also financially rewarded for killing Palestinians: and in far higher numbers. Of course let’s not forget to mention their best of intentions of trying to not kill them. That is all the comfort a grieving family needs. Who needs an actual living breathing family member when you can have a grave and the “thoughts and prayers” of Israeli apologists.

    It is difficult to fathom how people who no doubt consider themselves “liberal” in some sense (at least insofar as they tout gay rights and feminism) don’t seem capable of understanding that arguments that are based on generalizing the supposed inherent bad nature of an entire ethnic group is inherently a racist argument. That when someone says “my home was taken unfairly”, that it is not a valid response to say: “Yeah but PEOPLE LIKE YOU don’t like gays”. That when someone demands “I am a human being. I should have self governance”. It is not a valid response to say “Yeah but you might vote for someone who is anti-feminist”.

    1. I’m sorry but you are a mushbrain, and I don’t usually insult readers. But when they’re as clueless as you are, they deserve it. Defenseless? Then why did Hamas launch rockets at Israel. Did you know that more than half of those “civilians” were actually working for Hamas. Don’t you have any conception that mortality will rise among civilians if a country uses human shields to be able to attack innocents and then cry foul when the human shields are killed?

      As for Israeli soldiers being financially rewarded for killing Palestinians, either you are referring to their salaries, which is irrelevant in this case, or you’re deluded.

      And your evidence that Israel is an “apartheid” state is that “Muslims” (presumably Palestinians) don’t have self-determination. But they do, of course, both in Israel and outside it. They can vote in Israel.

      Finally, as for “stealing their homes”, we are referring to six families who didn’t pay their rent, and offered to but were ordered not to by the Palestinians. That’s not stealing.

      I have rarely seen a comment so ignorant and mushbrained as this one. I suggest you go to one of the many anti-Semitic sites to spew these lies.

  13. Clearly Sci Am has been co-opted to be more or less just another propaganda tool. It’s a shame, but there is evil afoot.

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