Polite determination overcoming anti-Israel bias and exclusion

It is gratifying to see that some purposeful pressure can sometimes overturn anti-Israel bias. 

This  link details correspondence that ensued when Israeli doctors were excluded from a recent conference in Egypt sponsored by “Susan G Komen for the Cure”, the world’s largest breast cancer advocacy organization (distributing $60 million for breast cancer research last year). 

The goal of the conference in Alexandria, Egypt, was to include meetings between leading researchers from the U.S. and several Mideast countries.  Israeli doctors were invited to the event as well, and several had planned to attend. However, shortly before the conference began, the doctors received brief notices telling them that they were no longer invited to the conference, by order of Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali.

Despite the cancellation of the Israeli presence at the event, Egyptian officials continued to praise the event as an example of regional cooperation. “The week’s events are a demonstration of the cooperation between countries, governments, civil society, advocates, survivors, and the global community as a whole,” Dr. Mohammed Shaalan of Egypt’s Breast Cancer Foundation told Reuters on Monday. “It shows that breast cancer has no boundaries and reveals the beauty of the world’s unity in its fight against breast cancer.”   

The organisers also were prepared to press along with the conference despite the exclusion of the Israeli’s.

However a letter from Helen Freedman, Executive Director of Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI to the conference organisers shown on the link in full, and excerpted here seemed to resonate. 

“I understand that it is difficult for you to pull out of this Conference at this point; however, I believe that if such discrimination as has been directed against the Israeli doctors who were disinvited to the Breast conference in Egypt is tolerated, this will set a terrible example for future conferences. I plead with you to reconsider staying with the conference in Egypt. I understand the great need there, but it is a world-wide need, and Israeli doctors have been working on the cure for decades, as have the others. It is unconscionable and unacceptable to allow anti-Semitic countries to benefit from your research while they disgrace themselves with their intolerance of Jews.   I will be alerting my membership to this travesty and again, plead with you to reconsider your decision to remain with the conference in Egypt. I hope to hear that you will find another host country – possibly Israel – where you can hold the conference, which will include Israeli doctors, as well as all others.” 

The gratifying reply came from the sponsors: 

“Thank you for contacting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We have new information from our founder, Nancy Goodman Brinker on this situation.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Pleased to Announce Egyptian Events to Welcome All Advocates, Including those from Israel

Statement from Nancy Goodman Brinker, Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Breast cancer advocates from the United States and across the Middle East are meeting in Egypt from October 21-27 for breast cancer awareness events. There have been reports that some of the invited participants would not be allowed to attend these events. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has now received confirmation that all advocates, regardless of their country of origin, are invited to fully participate in events to bring breast cancer to the forefront of public discussion in the Middle East.

After we received the initial report on the situation, we launched a diplomatic effort to ensure they would be able to participate. I am pleased to report that our efforts led to confirmation that all advocates would be welcome to participate in the events.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure remains steadfast in our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever.

Americans for a Safe Israel showed here the value of polite determination in overcoming anti-Israel bias originating from Egypt and initially tolerated by U.S. sponsors, which included Jewish representatives.

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