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Nothing captures the heights of the current coronavirus moment as much as news from Israel that Palestinians and Jews came together to manufacture masks on a repurposed production line.

We lay out the details for you in this newsletter, along with a deep thought piece from the folks at Scientific American on how to rethink medical education in the age of anti-racism protests.

But first we bring you an update - perhaps the denouement - on a case of medical anti-Semitism that we have followed closely here at DARA. We know a lot of you have also expressed interest in this affair - please see the update below.

Anti-Semitic doctor loses licence

The saga of Lara Kollab is as alarming as it is rare. In an episode that first came to light two years ago, this Ohio doctor of osteopathic medicine was outed for posting blatantly anti-Semitic tweets between 2011 and 2013.

Of Palestinian descent, Kollab had unleashed tirades against Israelis and Jews. The most extreme was one tweet threatening to give Jews the wrong medication. She later apologized, saying she had "difficulty constructively expressing my intense feelings about what I witnessed in my ancestral land" after returning from a trip to Israel and the West Bank.

Kollab deleted the tweets after being accepted by the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York, which calls itself “the largest private university in the U.S. with Jewish roots.”

Kollab's medical saga may now be over - at least in her home state of Ohio. In the latest in a string of professional setbacks, Kollab saw her medical training certificate permanently revoked by The State Medical Board of Ohio.

The story of Lara Kollab underlines once again how online communication has transformed the public discourse around racism and anti-Semitism. Years ago, Kollab`s off-hand remark about injuring or killing Jews would have stayed hidden - the detritus of a night of drinking with medical school classmates.

In 2020 the private is public. While this raises important questions about how to hold people responsible for statements meant more as venting than policy, it also reveals the motivations of tomorrow`s medical professionals. When those motivations are anti-Semitic, we think those beliefs are worth knowing - and addressing.

Israeli factory pivots to face masks, employing Jews and Palestinians

The good news was easy to miss amid the political posturing of the event, but recent reports highlighted once again the stake Jews and Palestinians in the Middle East share in a vibrant economy.

The site: a Supergum rubber factory in the West Bank. The company transformed one of its production lines to manufacture face masks for both domestic and international distribution.

Like many companies operating in the West Bank, it employs Palestinians. Most famously, international brand name SodaStream employed hundreds of Palestinians before decamping the area due to anti-Israel pressure. The company was forced to lay off those workers. 

“In the Supergum [rubber] factory in Barkan, as in many other factories, a lot of Palestinians work as well,” said Israeli Minister of Health Yuli Edelstein. “Our presence helps them also. A Palestinian state is a terror state both for Israeli citizens and Palestinian Authority Arab citizens.”

Does medical education need rethinking?

What if medical leaders need to overhaul medical training and theory in order to eradicate racism in medical care?

That's the question posed by a recent article in the Scientific American urging medical professionals to tear down the wall between medicine and public health.

According the writers, current medical training practice is based on the 1910 Flexner Report, which established the individual biomedical model that focuses exclusively on biologic causes of disease.

They acknowledge that the Flexner Report doesn't hold sway as it once did.

"To be fair, no one cites the Flexner report in defending the medical status quo, and the biopsychosocial model has supplanted the biomedical model in many settings," they write.  

And recent statements by medical associations have emphasized the impact of societal factors in health - particularly when addressing racism in care. 

Yet the writers think the profession has not gone far enough. Their radical suggestion urges more than simply considering public health. They think medical professionals need to embrace new roles as advocates..

"To begin to reintegrate medicine and public health, we must incorporate advocacy as a core competency across the educational spectrum: from medical school to residency to continuing medical education. Public health is not just for politicians. We must equip physicians with the necessary skills to effectively advocate for the policies we so desperately need to care for our patients."

See the full opinion piece here.

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