Scientific American withdraws anti-Semitic op-ed

June 16, 2021 • 10:00 am

Nine days ago I wrote about a published op-ed in Scientific American in which eight healthcare workers took out after Israel, not only blaming that nation for the war and all the deaths of Palestinians, but also for its failure to provide healthcare and vaccinations to Palestinians, as well as for various other deeds. The problem was that most of the accusations were either distortions or outright lies that should have been caught by any knowledgeable editor. Further, the authors failed to call out Hamas and its supporters for any misdeeds, including firing the rockets that started the last conflict. As I wrote at the time:

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.

(Because I consider the BDS movement to be based on anti-Semitism, this is why I’ve given this post the title I did. If you want to argue that the op-ed wasn’t anti-Semitic, or that BDS isn’t, please do so in the comments.)

I also beefed about Scientific American‘s entering the fray by publishing not only an overtly political/ideological article, but a distorted one. There was no fact-checking on the part of the magazine, and there should have been given its obvious lies. Most important, scientific magazines should not be in the business of publishing such editorials, whether they be anti- or pro-Israel. My original critique is below (click on screenshot), and I noted that a better job of dismantling the op-ed’s claims was done in an article by CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (there’s an update at the top of that link).

Here’s my piece:

And if you click on the screenshot to the Sci. Am original op-ed piece, you now find that it’s no longer there. It’s been replaced by this terse statement:

This article fell outside the scope of Scientific American and has been removed.”

This is what you see (look below the photo):


Sadly, the article wasn’t archived, at least not that I know of, but you can get some meaty quotes, and a summary, from the CAMERA post, whose update now notes that the op-ed has been removed. (UPDATE: in the first comment below, reader Mark found an archived version of the op-ed here.)

Well, I’m glad that the editors had the savvy to deep-six the article given that it was full of lies and outside the magazine’s ambit, but perhaps they should have moved it to a place where it could still be read. In general I’m opposed to simply erasing articles without archiving them, as it erases history. One might, however, justify the removal not on the grounds of erasing an invidious piece, but because the piece was full of lies, ergo it shouldn’t be considered decent journalism of any stripe.

My only remaining question is why on earth was this published in the first place?  Yes, we know that many popular-science as well as professional scientific magazines and journals are going woke, but this piece was beyond the pale. And of course its distortions and lies aren’t mentioned as a reason for its removal; only that the article “fell outside the scope of Scientific American.” Still, kudos to editor Laura Helmuth for approving what was done. But it’s too much to hope that other editors or science magazines will follow her lead.

The petition is still up, though, but it was not sponsored by Scientific American and the magazine bears no responsibility for that.

21 thoughts on “Scientific American withdraws anti-Semitic op-ed

  1. I wonder about the photo which accompanies the SciAm article. Is it just me, or does that not look like a place that had just been bombed. It looks like a place not recently on fire. It looks like an area of Gaza that Hamas refuses to repair, an area to which they refer photographers all the time to take pictures of Gaza destruction (that actually occurred years ago).

    It’s not like Hamas has any track record of honesty. They routinely use pictures of suffering in Syria, etc and label them as new images of Gazan suffering.

      1. The photographer is a Gazan who is a member of Agence France-Presse, which has been associated with mislabeled photos and staged videos in the past. And the photo may be authentic, and I could be completely wrong.

  2. I guess sense at last is better than none at all, but why SciAm published the piece in the first place is beyond me.

    1. I’m guessing it is for the same reason that SciAm published these:

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/custom-media/a-new-dawn-for-innovation-in-qatar/turning-science-into-businesses/

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/custom-media/a-new-dawn-for-innovation-in-qatar/a-miracle-material-from-trapped-carbon/

      https://www.scientificamerican.com/custom-media/a-new-dawn-for-innovation-in-qatar/how-the-world-cup-is-driving-qatari-innovation/

      These articles and others all say, in tiny print:

      “This article was produced by Qatar Foundation for Scientific American Custom Media, a division separate from the magazine’s board of editors.”

      Obviously, SciAm is being paid to publish Qatari propaganda.

      The Lawfare Project is a program associated with the Israeli government, and has been tracking the many billions of dollars spent by Qatar and Saudi Arabia corrupting the narrative at American Universities, think tanks, and elsewhere. It is pretty eye-opening. They have issued a report:

      https://freebeacon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/FARA_Memo_with_Exhibits_R-1.pdf

      1. Meanwhile, Qatar was among the coalition currently still attacking Yemen after six years, with at least over 300,000 killed and 2.5 million displaced. And they use what is essentially slave labor in a good deal of their construction and some other fields.

        But SciAm will keep quiet about that. It’s not like Qatar is full of Jews or something, and therefore they don’t need to be held to the same standards as Israel. Or even 1/3,000th the same standards.

        EDIT: And the reason Qatar was kicked out of the coalition is because of the 2017 diplomatic crisis, where other ME countries like Saudi Arabia accused them of supporting terrorist oegs (they just meant the wrong terrorist orgs)

        1. Qatar’s contribution to the Yemeni disaster was glancing, short and mainly symbolic. They do have to answer for the foreign worker problems however they’ve come along much faster than any of their neighbors in fixing that.

          I agree there is a HUGE double standard between Israel vs the rest of the middle east (one can be pro-Qatar and more pro-Israel at the same time, btw).

          If you want the bad guys in that part of the world …. they’re right next door to Qatar.

          Well… we should always believe what the Saudis and Emiratis say, right? They wouldn’t lie or anything….
          Would you like a bone saw with that?
          D.A.
          NYC

      2. Thank you for the link. I’ll read it tomorrow.
        I’m quite pro-Qatari and have written about Qatar in Forbes and other places over the years.
        I have visited there and also… as a young man at Georgetown Univ a part of my scholarship to study there (and in the USA, I was Australian originally) was paid for by the Qatari largess.
        You could say soft power works, but I have other reasons for liking Qatar also.

        D.A.
        NYC

    2. In the first place, they thought they’d make more money by publishing it. Now they think the opposite. SciAm is a business, nothing else, and hasn’t been for well over a decade, IMO.

      1. Whoops, indeed. Especially when you consider that it was actually appropriated from Commander Richard Byrd.

  3. Good. Glad that article was withdrawn. The information I got from your posts encouraged me to read the SciAm article on Why Psychiatry Needs to get Right with God
    (https://apple.news/AN7nlmhN5Rku8XphHr10nE) as before I considered Scientic American a reliable source.

    Near the end of the God article, the author disclosed funding for the “research” was by the Templeton Foundation. This article is jaw-dropping in its findings. And hopefully will go the same way as the hit piece on Israel.

  4. Nothing new under the sun, is there? In recent years, Scientific American has “crossed the line”, allowing political views to permeate what should be scientific essays. But this has taken editorial malfeasance to new heights. I am dismayed.

  5. I “fired” Scientific American over 10 years ago after having been a subscriber for many years, because it became a political magazine no longer true to scientific objectives.

  6. I also stopped reading SciAm years ago. After they changed editorial staff and jumped onto the Al Gore’s bandwagon with both feet, they lost all credibility, as far as I was concerned.

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