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Ben-Gurion University
[BGU, Politics & Govt] Dani Filc of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, a radical political group disguised as a medical organization

Email:  dfilc@bgu.ac.il

Editorial Note

In October 2011 BGU Dr. Dani Filc, head of Politics and Government Department at BGU participated (see below) in an event organized by the Medical School for International Health (MSIH), a collaboration of Columbia University's Health Sciences Division and the Faculty of Health Sciences at Ben-Gurion University.
Filc represented Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I) and lectured about "PHR-I and its mission to end health inequality in Israel." Filc's topic is not only misleading but also hypocritical.

The PHR-I page in Wikipedia explains that "PHR-I views Israel as an occupier over Palestinian territory as a basis of human rights violations, and therefore, "oppose the occupation and endeavor to put an end to it."  Wikipedia further notes: "Much of PHR-I's work is based on appeals and testimonies from persons whose rights may have been violated. Such claims may come from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, or from migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers living in Israel". 
The Israel Medical Association which looked into these and other allegations, severed its ties with the with PHR-I. The president of the World Medical Association, Dr. Yoram Blachar, said that PHR-I "is a radical political group disguised as a medical organization".
This should not come as a surprise as Filc has a long history of proving misleading information in order to support his thesis that Israel is a gross violator of human rights at par with South Africa.  In his book Circles of Exclusion: The Politics of Health Care in Israel (Cornell University Press) and his lectures, Filc asserted that health inequality can be ended when Palestinians, illegal aliens and Bedouin have the same access medical services as Israeli citizens. In fact, the Bedouins do have access to clinics in recognized villages, a matter of short commute, and so do Palestinian citizens of Israel.  As for illegal aliens, Israel, like many other countries, does not officially provide state-sponsored care, but there are other options available. 

 In another lecture published on the U.N. website in 2004, Filc spoke on behalf of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel.  He blamed the IDF for impeding the movement of medical personnel and patients in the West Bank. He expressed concern that PHR-I's criticism was not taken into consideration by the authorities and claimed the issue of security is used to explain any action being made by the IDF: "PHR-Israel believes it must work with Palestinian colleagues for freedom of movement for medical workers and patients alike." At no point in his career did Filc acknowledge that Palestinians have used ambulances to perpetrate acts of terrorism during the second Intifida unleashed after Yasser Arafat refused to sign a peace deal with the Israeli government in 2000.

Perhaps most troubling is Filc's quote in The Guardian newspaper entitled Guardian investigation uncovers evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza" of March 24, 2009, where he seemed to concur with the article's conclusion that Israel committed war crimes during the Gaza operation in 2009. "We have noticed a stark decline in IDF morals concerning the Palestinian population of Gaza, which in reality amounts to a contempt for Palestinian lives, said Dani Filc, chairman of Physicians for Human Rights Israel. " The article, billed as The Guardian's "investigation," preceded the Goldstone report; yet unlike Judge Goldstone, neither Filc nor the newspaper retracted their allegations.  Indeed, Filc did not see fit to condemn Hamas for positioning its fighters in densely populated urban areas, schools and medical facilities. 

Filc's one- sided condemnation of Israel is very much in line with the mantra of the radical left in the academy: "Palestinians cannot do anything wrong and Israel cannot do anything right." 


The Medical School for International Health


VOLUME XII, ISSUE 1   Winter 2012

CONNECTIONS P&S and other faculty exchanges 


The BGU-CU connection encompasses faculty exchanges from both Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and other visiting faculty with expertise in specific areas of global health.

Dr. Dani Filc, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I), delivered a lunchtime presentation in October on PHR-I and its mission to end health inequality in Israel.  Dr. Filc was invited by the PHR-I volunteer coordinators headed by fourth-year Bryan MacDonald.  MSIH students volunteer with the Physicians for Human Rights Mobile Clinic in the West Bank and the Open Clinic in Jaffa.

Ken Prager, MD, Director of Clinical Ethics and Chairman of the Medical Ethics Committee at CUMC, delivered lectures on Respiratory Pathophysiology to second-year medical students in November.  Dr. Prager also discussed the ethics involved in anatomy dissections.

Robert Huish, MD, Assistant Professor in International Development Studies at Dalhousie University, spoke to the Global Health Forum in February.  The Global Health Forum lecture series is sponsored by the Global Health and Medicine Working Group (see article on page 2).  Dr. Huish teaches courses on Global Health, Poverty and Human Rights, Development, and Activism. 

His research focuses on global health equity and public health ethics.  He is currently working on several health care projects in Canada and around    the world, and he encourages students to think critically and act on a global scale.

BGU-CU Director Richard J. Deckelbaum, MD, who is also the Director of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center, visited the MSIH in January 2011 to teach the global health module Nutrition in Global Health.

Lynne Quittell, MD, the MSIH Admissions Committee Chair, met with first-, second- and third year medical students during her February visit to discuss residency planning.  She returned in September and gave a talk on how to prepare for clinical case presentations for third-year rotations, how to prepare for fourth-year electives, residency planning, and how to juggle family and work while in residency.

Klara Johansson, PhD, of the Gapminder Foundation and the Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, Sweden, gave the lecture Global Health Through Animated Statistics in March.  Dr. Johansson’s video presentation Hans Roslings 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes - The Joy of Stats showed the world’s development across 200 years in the span of a few minutes, to highlight the income gap and average life expectancy between the least developed and the most developed nations.

Visit our newly designed website: www.cumc.columbia.edu/dept/bgcu-md

Contact Us  bgcu-md@columbia.edu  or 212.305.9587






World Health Organization (WHO) Office for West Bank and Gaza, 2004

bridges  December 2004 - January 2005 December 2004 - January 2005


Following the screening of Detail, a documentary short by Avi Mograbi that depicts one incident at a temporary checkpoint, Mograbi described his bitter experience when filming in the West Bank. The arbitrariness of it all – with no connection to security – was what struck him most, he said.

A discussion followed in which Dr. Dani Filc of Physicians for Human Rights-Israel represented the organization's views. Those of the Israel Defense Forces were represented by Lt. Col. Mey-Tal from the Civil Administration. He emphasized Israel's security concerns and highlighted the efforts made to balance these with the humanitarian needs of the Palestinians. It    was a rare opportunity to hear them both.

Israeli health professionals in the audience spoke of their dissatisfaction with the role of the Israel Medical Association, saying it should take a more explicit stand in the name of medical ethics and the right to health.

Dr. Filc expressed the concern of PHR-Israel that its criticism is not taken into consideration, and that the claim of security is used to explain any action being made by the IDF. PHR-Israel believes it must work with Palestinian colleagues for freedom of movement for medical workers and patients alike.

Take any of a series of social determinants such as wealth, education, ethnicity, gender, upbringing or employment, and the story is the same.

People’s health prospects worsen as they descend the social ladder. Edwin Chadwick’s 1842 report on the sanitary conditions of working people in London showed the disparity in life spans between laborers and gentry, and the United Kingdom’s 1980 Black Report noted that while the first 35 years of the National Health Service had improved health across all classes, social status was still strongly correlated with infant mortality, life expectancy and use of medical services. To quote the report: "The three main social determinants of health are income, social class and education."

 The World Health Organization (WHO) hopes to engender change by setting up a new body called the Commission on Social Determinants of Health. The Commission is planned to run for three to five years, starting early in 2005, and will look at the inequities within societies that create inequalities in health. It also hopes to draw attention to examples of global, national and local policies that have strengthened health equity between and within countries.

From Bulletin of the World Health Organization. The International Journal of Public Health (Vol. 82, N10, October 2004) Creating Dialogue: Physicians for Human Rights – Israel A WHO Initiative on Eliminating Health Inequities



World Health Organization (WHO) Office for West Bank and Gaza

Old Nablus Road, Sheikh Jarrah, P.O. Box 54812, Jerusalem

Tel: +972-2-5400595, Fax: +972-2-5810193


"Guardian investigation uncovers evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes in Gaza" March 24, 2009


In a report released today, a medical human rights group said there was "certainty" that Israel violated international humanitarian law during the war, with attacks on medics, damage to medical buildings, indiscriminate attacks on civilians and delays in medical treatment for the injured.

"We have noticed a stark decline in IDF morals concerning the Palestinian population of Gaza, which in reality amounts to a contempt for Palestinian lives," said Dani Filc, chairman of Physicians for Human Rights Israel. The Guardian gathered testimony on missile attacks by Israeli drones against clearly distinguishable civilian targets. In one case a family of six was killed when a missile hit the courtyard of their house. Israel has not admitted using drones but experts say their optical equipment is good enough to identify individual items of clothing worn by targets. The Geneva convention makes it clear medical staff and hospitals are not legitimate targets and forbids involuntary human shields.




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