Don't let science get in the way of war.
December 4, 2001 11:17 PM   Subscribe

Don't let science get in the way of war. A tale of sloppy censorship by a leading medical journal.
posted by magullo (15 comments total)
That shaky mouse finger can really screw up a post, eh? ^^, I hereby declare this last thread to be the True One, and all the others mere clones.

"...generating fears that it may involve the suppression of scientific work that questions Biblical dogma."

Hmmm. Last I checked, there was no statement in the Bible that Jews and Palestines had different genetic makeups. I do remember a verse that said in Christ there is no Jew or Gentile, but that the same Lord blesses those who call on Him. Perhaps that's worth noting. ;)
posted by brownpau at 11:22 PM on December 4, 2001

Urk, I meant "Palestinians." Sorry.
posted by brownpau at 11:23 PM on December 4, 2001

A lot of Jews (as far as I can tell, and not to say all of them or anything) seem to believe that they are entitled to live on that land because their ancestors did, thousands of years ago. Apparently the fact that the Palestinians were living there, like, 60 years ago isn't an issue.

And the fact that Palestinians have the same historic claim on the land is something they (or at least people who get this journal) really don't want to hear.

It's a bunch of crap if you ask me. If they aren't going to afford the same legal rights to Palestinians that they do to Jews, they deserve whatever comes to them.
posted by delmoi at 11:53 PM on December 4, 2001

It looks as if the problem is not in the results, which, in any case, are not original, so much as in the politicized wording of the report: Jews not as settlers, but as colonists; Palestinians not in refugee camps, but in concentration camps. You can see -- indeed, the author of the report sees -- why Jewish groups would be upset.
posted by pracowity at 2:07 AM on December 5, 2001

References to the history of the region, the ones that are supposed to be politically offensive, were taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and other text books.

Sounds like it's possible that the offensive comments stem from language barriers. Maybe this guy in Spain was looking up words to translate his article and didn't realize what a loaded term "concentration camp" is.
posted by straight at 6:04 AM on December 5, 2001

I just think it's funny that he was using the Encyclopaedia Britannica for his paper. We had to stop using encyclopaedias for our reports in grammar school.

As for the contents of the report, weren't Isaac and Ishmael brothers? I'm not too familiar with these bible stories -- is Ishmael just from the Quran, or is he in the Torah, too? Either way, it's pretty silly to think that a whole bunch of people living in the same tiny region of the globe for millennia would be genetically separate.
posted by Eamon at 6:45 AM on December 5, 2001

Half-brothers. They had different mothers.

Either way, it's pretty silly to think that a whole bunch of people living in the same tiny region of the globe for millennia would be genetically separate.

If anything, it seems like it refutes the claim that some people have made that modern Jews aren't descended from Israelites at all (e.g., Arthur Koestler's "Thirteenth Tribe" theory that they are actually descendents of the Khazars). I would think that this finding would be welcomed by supporters of Israel, since Koestler-ish arguments have been used to discredit Jewish claims to Israel as ancestral homeland. Or am I misunderstanding what the article says?
posted by rodii at 7:02 AM on December 5, 2001

Genes are RECIPES, not blueprints; so the point is moot, anyway.
posted by ophelia_hardin at 7:12 AM on December 5, 2001

In some socio-theological circles, you hear the term Abrahamic religions used when referring to Christianity, Judaism and Islam because all three cite Abraham as a patriarch and frankly Judeo-Christi-Islamic just simply does not have the ZING that they are looking for.

As to the charge that the Professor made a simple mistake of confusing concentration camp with refugee camp, I have a hard time believing that seeing how much he has written in a number of international journals, but I will allow for the possibility.

Other than choice of words, I can't see anything to get anyones dander up.
posted by Dagobert at 7:16 AM on December 5, 2001

So, was there a cover letter attached to this issue asking people to tear the article out themselves? And where do I get a copy of this cover letter?
posted by rschram at 7:43 AM on December 5, 2001

straight: You might be right on the money - there are no distinctive words for settlers and colonists in Spanish (I'm Spanish, I would know). However, concentration camps is as loaded as it is in Englsih. However, the only concentration camps he mentioned in the article were outside Palestine, so I dunno what the fuss is all about.
posted by magullo at 8:46 AM on December 5, 2001

You'd figure the publishers, now so utterly offended, would have advised the gentleman of these problems during the editing cycle. The problem with the phrase 'concentration camp' is legitimate. However, this affair looks like after-the-fact politicized censorship. I hope the movement in support of the gentleman makes the publishers squirm. These acadmics should publish online anyway, right?
posted by mmarcos at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2001

Abstract from Pubmed

The origin of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations.

Arnaiz-Villena A, Elaiwa N, Silvera C, Rostom A, Moscoso J, Gomez-Casado E, Allende L, Varela P, Martinez-Laso J.

The genetic profile of Palestinians has, for the first time, been studied by using human leukocyte antigen (HLA) gene variability and haplotypes. The comparison with other Mediterranean populations by using neighbor-joining dendrograms and correspondence analyses reveal that Palestinians are genetically very close to Jews and other Middle East populations, including Turks (Anatolians), Lebanese, Egyptians, Armenians, and Iranians. Archaeologic and genetic data support that both Jews and Palestinians came from the ancient Canaanites, who extensively mixed with Egyptians, Mesopotamian, and Anatolian peoples in ancient times. Thus, Palestinian-Jewish rivalry is based in cultural and religious, but not in genetic, differences. The relatively close relatedness of both Jews and Palestinians to western Mediterranean populations reflects the continuous circum-Mediterranean cultural and gene flow that have occurred in prehistoric and historic times. This flow overtly contradicts the demic diffusion model of western Mediterranean populations substitution by agriculturalists coming from the Middle East in the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition.
posted by euphorb at 11:44 AM on December 5, 2001

I find it amusing that they would even respond to threats of journal subscription cancellations. They should have just said "Go right ahead". After all, if you want to be outside the loop on the latest findings, reduce your publication options, and open the censorship can of worms after an article has successfully passed peer review then you clearly are not a member of the scientific community.

I would suggest people in Immunology go elsewhere for their information if this editorial board doesn't strongly recant their decision. Who knows what else they will not even publish now for fear of possible repercussions from various lobbies.

Cowardly decision to cover up some (trivial) editorial errors. I hope Nicole Suciu-Foca gets the feedback she has earned.
posted by srboisvert at 12:13 PM on December 5, 2001

> The genetic profile of Palestinians has, for the first time,
> been studied by using human leukocyte antigen (HLA)
> gene variability and haplotypes...

Translation: Jews and Palestinians and other local tribes have been screwing one another for donkeys.
posted by pracowity at 11:24 PM on December 5, 2001

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