Doctors at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital examine Palestinians

Doctors at Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital examine Palestinians injured in an Israeli attack on a house belonging to the Sabit family, in Deir al-Balah, Gaza on March 17, 2024.

(Photo: Ashraf Amra/Anadolu via Getty Images)

'In Pursuit of Peace,' Palestinians Founded Doctors Against Genocide

"The medical community bears a moral obligation to safeguard life and enhance health universally."

The following is an interview with Dr. Karameh Hawash-Kuemmerle, a pediatric neurologist in Boston, Massachusetts, and Dr. Nidal Jboor, an internist in Dearborn, Michigan, who co-founded of Doctors Against Genocide (DAG).

What was the impetus for forming Doctors Against Genocide?

“In pursuit of peace, the Palestinians co-founders of DAG, Dr. Nidal Jboor and Dr. Karameh Hawash, who attended the same medical school in Jordan, confronted despair and feared we were witnesses to the genocide of our own people in our native land. The language of dehumanization, the normalization of the violence against Palestinians in their native homeland, the ghettoization, the frequent pogroms, the segregation, and the apartheid system imposed on the Palestinians by Israel raised the alarms for us a few years back starting in 2021 and led to a journey of discovery of what makes a genocide happen. Although we discovered that it is possible to predict a genocide by identifying its different stages, we also found that preventing it from happening raises unsurmountable challenges despite the presence of international laws meant to put a swift end to a genocide once it is identified. This led to the creation of Doctors Against Genocide as an organization aiming to fill the gap between the oath to do no harm that doctors pledge and their inability to prevent the harm from being perpetrated. Doctors Against Genocide is driven by global concern over injustices, wars, racism, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocides, with a focus on Palestine.

Dr. Jboor and Dr. Hawash are acutely conscious of how injustice deteriorates both physical and mental health. We successfully launched the organization, garnering the support of thousands and uniting the medical community against atrocities. The warm reception from healthcare professionals reaffirmed our belief that the medical field is inherently committed to enhancing life for all. "Never again for everyone" emerged as a guiding principle, advocating the extension of universal values to all communities and races.”

Why is it important to organize health professionals to call for a cease-fire?

“The medical community bears a moral obligation to safeguard life and enhance health universally. Most medical professionals have pledged an oath to do no harm, positioning them as a vital support for individuals in distress. Whether confronting a physical illness or mental health challenges, people turn to a diverse array of healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, EMTs, acupuncturists, and therapists. It is both a duty and a moral imperative for these professionals to prioritize the sanctity of life. This foundational principle should amplify their voices and ensure they are taken with the utmost seriousness, especially when they speak up against supporting a genocide with weapons and political cover as the United States has been going when it comes to the genocide in Gaza.”

What type of response have you gotten from the public and from elected officials?

“The public, especially within the medical community, has shown strong support for DAG's mission, reflecting a commitment to ending war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. This response has been heartwarming, highlighting a shared desire among healthcare professionals to prioritize life and health universally. Conversations with Congressional staffers have been positive, focusing on humanitarian aspects and the need for ceasefire, steering clear of political debates and concentrating on the goal of saving lives and preventing further harm.

DAG emphasizes the critical role of medical professionals in advocating against genocide and war crimes. It calls for universal support among healthcare workers to demand cease-fires and the end of hostilities, aligning with their professional commitment to healing and care. Justifying war crimes is fundamentally incompatible with the ethos of the medical profession. DAG's efforts are driven by the belief in the power of medical voices to effect change and promote peace, reinforcing the principle that "never again" should apply universally, extending protection and care to all people, regardless of race or nationality.”

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