Open Letter From Group Of Quebec Doctors Demanding Ceasefire Gets Imbalanced Coverage In Montreal Gazette

March 22, 2024

Even without pursuing a specialty, in order to be a medical doctor in Canada, applicants must complete an undergraduate degree, then graduate medical school, and then, following a licensing exam and residency, are then able to practice medicine.

Consequently, it goes without saying that attention to detail and a respect for facts are critical elements of being a physician.

And yet, for a group of roughly 400 medical doctors in Quebec, when it comes to the Hamas-Israel war, facts are quickly jettisoned in favour of ideology.

An open letter was published on March 21 by a group of doctors, where they called for the Quebec College of Physicians, the Quebec Federation of General Practitioners, the Quebec Federation of Specialist Physicians and the Quebec College of Family Physicians to wade neck-deep into the Middle East conflict.

According to news reports, the signatories are demanding that the medical associations “publish a declaration demanding an immediate ceasefire, immediate access to drinking water and an end to blockades preventing the entry of medical equipment” into the Gaza Strip.

The letter also claims that the war has seen “31,272 killed and 73,024 injured,” a figure originating from Hamas and its so-called “Gaza Ministry of Health” that is not only entirely unverified, statistically highly implausible, but also which makes no distinction between civilians and armed combatants, legitimate targets of war. In fact, according to Israel, the number of Hamas fighters killed is more than 13,000.

Not only would such a statement from medical associations be an unwarranted intrusion into a complex conflict thousands of kilometres away, the “facts,” as laid out in the open letter, are based on falsehoods.

According to a front-page article by René Bruemmer in the Montreal Gazette entitled: “Quebec doctors sign open letter demanding ceasefire in Gaza,” the concept for the open letter began on social media, where a Facebook page called: “Quebec doctors against the genocide in Gaza,” was created, despite there being no genocide whatsoever in Gaza and where Israel has achieved a remarkably low proportion of civilian casualties.

But in the Gazette’s coverage of the open letter, the reporter repeated the talking points of the activists without providing important context, writing that the doctors have called for “the release of hostages on both sides of the conflict.”

There are no hostages on “both sides.” Hamas holds well over 100 hostages, innocent people kidnapped from Israel on October 7 and held for nearly half a year, guilty of no crimes. Israel, conversely, is a country governed by the rule of law and, like Canada, incarcerates prisoners for crimes.

The article also stated that the open letter calls for “an end to blockades preventing entry of medical supplies” into Gaza, and Bruemmer made reference to the “siege” on Gaza. Despite the loud protestations of anti-Israel activists making similar allegations, there is simply no truth to such claims.

Israel has processed roughly 98.5 percent of all aid trucks being sent into Gaza, which often numbers in the hundreds on any given day. But not all trucks reach the intended recipients. On March 20, for example, 189 trucks were inspected and transferred into Gaza, but only 120 of them were distributed within the territory, and only 72 by the United Nations.

If there is a humanitarian issue inside Gaza, it is not because of a lack of food or equipment being sent; it is because of the incompetence of parties like the United Nations, and because of theft of aid by Hamas.

Importantly, nowhere in this article does the Gazette’s report acknowledge Hamas’ role in perpetuating the suffering in Gaza and their cynical use of healthcare facilities to hide themselves, their weapons, their terror infrastructure and Israeli hostages at times.

The open letter from the group of Quebec doctors, and the news coverage in The Gazette, ignores these central points and was therefore imbalanced and lacked much-needed context. HonestReporting Canada has filed a complaint with the Montreal Gazette and we encourage you to do the same by sending your concerns to the Gazette’s Editor-In-Chief, Lenie Lucci at: mlucci@postmedia.com and to Gazette reporter René Bruemmer: rbruemmer@postmedia.com.

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