Les méthodes pour tuer le débat

What to do about orchestrated email campaigns

By Tony Delamothe and Fiona Godlee, 24 February 2009

Karl Sabbagh’s article in our Analysis section examines emails sent to the BMJ’s acting editor, Kamran Abbasi,1 in response to a BMJ article criticising Israel.2 In the article published in 2004, Derek Summerfield asked whether the death of an Arab weighed the same as that of a US or Israeli citizen. Behind this question was his claim that the Israeli army had killed more unarmed Palestinian civilians since September 2000 than the number of people who died on 11 September 2001. In addition, he alleged that the pattern of injuries suggested that Israeli soldiers had been routinely authorised to shoot Palestinian children in situations of minimal or no threat—a charge that was later corroborated by Israeli soldiers.3

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Standing up for free speech

By Michael O’Donnell, writer and broadcaster

Critics of the BMJ, and of other medical journals, sometimes complain that editorial decisions are influenced by sinister outsiders. The usual suspects are advertisers, political agencies, and academic oligarchies. Less often named as villains are lobbyists who try to suppress or distort data that might damage their cause and who seek to « silence » editors who publish those data.1

Karl Sabbagh describes a style of lobbying more familiar to journalists working in the national media than to editors and readers of medical journals—the orchestrated harassment of individuals who write or publish articles criticising the Israeli government. The technique has endured for decades because it is effective. Richard Ingrams, editor and columnist, wrote of the historian A J P Taylor, who died in 1990

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