Scientific American Retracted Pro-Palestine Article Without Any Factual Errors

Sabreen Akhter felt compelled to help in any way she could. Akhter, like many others, was watching the news about the Gaza Strip's war. Israeli bombardment was causing a humanitarian crisis. Akhter, a Chicago doctor, found that there were a few other Americans who were posting information about the crisis on social media. Akhter set up an interview to discuss the possibilities for their profession in helping Palestinians. Akhter and Akhter settled on writing an article together, as a group medical workers concerned about Gaza's medical situation. They also pitched it to Scientific American. Akhter had previously published the opinion section of Scientific American. Akhter said that although they didn't know each other before, they had all seen the violence and devastation in Palestine and felt helpless. In 2014, The Lancet published an article about health care workers standing up for Palestine. It was powerful and I remember thinking it was very important at the time. The article was also published in The Lancet in 2014. On June 2, Scientific American ran the article under the headline As Health Care Workers. We Stand in Solidarity With Palestine. In its place, a brief editors note was added. The note stated that the article was not within the scope of Scientific American and had been removed. The editor of Scientific American emailed Akhter that day to inform them about the retractions and apologize for any confusion caused in publishing the article. We were stunned, shocked. Akhter stated that we all called each other and discussed the matter. Later, we sent an email to Akhter expressing our disappointment and asking for clarifications on what they meant by the article being outside of the scope. We never received a reply.This article provided a summary on the health crisis in Gaza Strip due to the war. It also highlighted the role of conflict in the exacerbation of the Covid-19 pandemic. The authors strongly condemned Israel's use of disproportionate force and supported the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. This call clearly sparked the fury of Israel supporters online. The article was retracted and has been made available online as a PDF. Since then, harassing messages and emails have been sent to the authors. Scientific American's retraction was celebrated by right-wing pro-Israeli groups. Pro-Palestine activists were not surprised and cited it as yet another example of a perverse campaign of suppression of free speech that has long targeted their cause. Marwa Fatafta is the Middle East and North Africa policy director for Access Now, which advocates digital rights. She said that Palestinians have faced systematic reprisal for their activism and speech. People have had their careers, jobs, and scholarships destroyed because of legitimate expression. Your livelihood is at stake, so you might think twice about expressing yourself. Fatafta stated that labels of antisemitism or terrorism can also be used to intimidate and publicly smear Palestinians and their allies. This mission is supported by social media pages and websites. There are endless efforts to criminalize the BDS movement, as well as peaceful and nonviolent calls to boycott and accountability. It's a witch hunt.Scientific American's debacle seemed to be following a pattern of censoring pro-Palestinian speech in America. The article was published immediately. This sparked a backlash from right-wing pro Israel circles online. CAMERA, a media advocacy group, denounced the article as an anti Israel screed parroting Palestinian terror group lies and incitement. Scientific American received a flood emails over the next few days with similar messages. The New York Post reported later that several influential New Yorkers, including Edward Halperin (New York Medical College Chancellor), and other medical professionals had sent letters opposing the article. An insider with knowledge of Scientific Americans' internal processes requested anonymity to avoid backlash. He said that the editors note contained language that was intended to communicate that Scientific Americans had not retracted the article. Intercept contacted journalists to inquire about the curiousity of a retraction in a respected publication of an opinion piece without admitting any factual errors. Although there are no guidelines on how to make such editorial decisions, it is certainly unusual and not consistent with the standard practice of a publication to retract an article they find to be incorrect, Alisa Solomon, a Columbia School of Journalism professor, stated.If all facts are true, it is only possible to conclude that the expressed opinion is being suppressed.The Intercept reviewed an email exchange between editors from the publication and authors. This ensured that the article was fact-checked thoroughly before publication in order to avoid any errors. This article is likely to be criticized. A Scientific American staffer wrote to her colleague in an email chain where the staff reviewed the facts and discussed the issues. It was fact-checked against the links. A top Scientific American editor sent it later in the chain. We had extensive discussions about specific fact-checking questions with the author. Although I found it to be well supported by the links, the way that things are presented in the piece and links is certainly controversial. The majority of the criticism will be about interpretation and toine [sic], not numbers. Solomon stated that the inaccuracy in the facts pointed to an editorial issue with the piece's opinions. Solomon, a theater critic and award-winning actor, stated that if the facts are correct, it is the expressed opinion that is being suppressed. The American discourse has a long history of discussing Palestine in theaters, art museums, and other venues. However, media coverage about the incident, particularly in conservative media, is just beginning to build. Fox News published a brief story about the incident on June 26th. Fox News also reported on the New York Post's June 26th report, which included personal information about each author. Algemeiner and Jerusalem Post have also covered the story. Their coverage effectively treated the retractions as a victory lap.All of the authors of the Scientific American article have been bombarded with hateful emails informing them that they are antisemitic, terrorist supporters, and were medical professionals in the United States. In an apparent attempt to fire them, these email writers copied their colleagues and employers as health care workers. A doctor in Toronto sent an email to an author, which was shared by The Intercept. It contained several copies of Jewish colleagues from the hospital where the authors worked. The email stated that Israel was real. Your river to sea ideal is an active desire for the destruction and annexation of the Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital.It is really sad when you are silenced and can't speak the truth about this topic as a health care professional.