79 thoughts on “The Ringworm Scandal: When Israeli Doctors Killed Tens of Thousands of Arab Children – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Not this again.
    Richard. Even a cursory examination using wikipedia, ‘Ringworm Scandal Israel’, reveals that scalp irradiation was the worldwide standard back in the 50’s.
    ‘Parallel to irradiation for ringworm carried out during the 1950s in the State of Israel, irradiation for ringworm was also carried out among thousands of Yugoslavian children (some 50,000), in Portugal (30,000) and Syria (7,000).’
    ‘The primary agent behind these ringworm eradication operations was UNICEF, which even assisted in the purchase of x-ray machines for this purpose. It even supplied the two x-ray machines that operated in the immigrant intake and processing facility for immigrants in Israel – Shaar Haaliyah south of Haifa.’

    1. @ Fred,
      I don’t know of these experiments and I think it’s the first time I hear about it.
      I don’t know if this is how they treated the disease back than but what really annoys me is the fact that victims aren’t compensated. That’s an epidemic in Israel’s bureaucracy – it’s the same with Shayetet 13 veterans who trained in the Kishon river, the same with holocaust survivors and their payment arrangements – you just drown in stupid bureaucracy until there’s no one to compensate anymore. It’s frustrating and disrespectful.

      @ Richard,
      You always stand fast that commentators use the term ‘Israeli Palestinians’ (and not ‘Israeli Arabs’) since you don’t think they call themselves that or don’t want to at least – I don’t see how it differ from calling us ‘Jewish Arab’. Say ‘Mizrachi’ or ‘Sefardi’ but we defiantly don’t call ourselves ‘Jewish Arab’.

      1. So what really happened? The answer is that X-ray treatments were given to Sephardic youths, which long range problems were not known by the State at the time.

        The lethal dose (L.D. 50/30) death-rate of X-rays for humans is 250 – 300 rads, which means that if the children were given 500 to 600 times the maximum dose, 50% of the children would have died within 30 days. At 35,000 times the maximum yearly dose, the doctor, technicians and all the children would have been dead before the end of the month. This 6,000 figure is completely bogus or the maximum dose is bogus.

        According to the medical literature 500 to 600 rem (or 1,000 times max dose) will sterilize you (and kill 35% of the victims after 30 days). That means there could not have been the next generation, and certainly this woman would never have had any children.

        Also, in 1951 there were at most 20,000 Moroccan Jews in Israel. Yet in this poorly researched and obviously anti-Jewish documentary it states that 100,000 Sephardic children, of which Moroccans were the majority, were exposed to X-rays. Demographically speaking this could not have happened. Someone is guilty of an anachronism.

        Ascribing present statistics to past events is one of the many mistakes or purposeful lies in this documentary.
        Remember, back in the 50s radiation from x-ray machines was considered harmless. Shoe stores in America even had X-ray machines used for shoe-fitting that were a common sight in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It wasn’t until 1969 that the .5 rad maximum yearly exposure was determined
        The dose given, in actual fact, was about 130 rads which at that time was considered safe. The medical world in the 50s, even outside Israel, was as yet unaware of the future damage involved in these radiation treatments; the connection between such treatments and cancer and other illnesses was discovered only years later. Xray treatment of the scalp for ringworm in the early 50s was considered by everyone to be safe. It was only years later that medical researchers in the US during the 1970s found an increased incidence of thyroid cancer among people who had been treated early in life with X rays for such conditions as acne, ringworm, and tonsillitis.
        To allege that Dr. Sheba knew about the dangers 20 years before anyone else is absurd

        1. @ Fred: Leave it to Fred to bring the hasbara cavalry to the rescue.

          First, the government refuses to release the records it has. WHen you admonish it to do so then you’ll have some credibility on the subject. Till then, you’re nothing but an apologist.

          The film mentions Moroccan Jews as being one of the primary sources of victims. However, you & I both know that there were many other Arab Jews immigrating in that era from Iraq, Iran, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, etc. So the 100,000 number is perfectly reasonable.

          I find your use of the term “anti-Jewish” to be deeply offensive. Sephardi Jews made this film. Sephardi Israeli Jews were the victims. Your term offends their suffering. If you ever use such a false term again I will moderate you.

          Back in the 1950s, it was well known that X-ray doses could be harmful. That’s why they had dosage limits from the 1930s. So you are once again wrong.

          You have offered a claim of what the actual dose was without offering any proof. As you know, I find this unacceptable and a comment rule violation.

          Finally, what’s equally offensive is that instead of blaming the perpetrators of this ghastly atrocity, you blame me & the filmmakers. You’ve got your priorities totally screwed up. But then again, hasbarists do that.

          1. I think there is something in Fred’s remarks. The claims do SEEM TO BE exaggerated. RS says “tens of thousands” died as a result. It is possible, but seems to me improbable. The evidence just isn’t available because they locked it up. The presumption then must be one of guilt, but the numbers…???

          2. @ David: The documentary says 6,000 died within a short period (something like a year I believe). While I’m not expert enough to extrapolate what that would mean in terms of overall long-term morbidity, I think it’s safe to say that at least 20,000, if not many more, died over the years as a direct result of this ghastly treatment. So I stand by “tens of thousands.” Of course you are right about withholding the evidence: the government is at fault for this miscarriage of justice. It holds the evidence in its archives and refuses to reveal it to the victims themselves. A schandeh!

          3. @David and @Fred. Tens thousands of Moroccan Jews had, at that time, immigrated to France instead of Israel. It can be assumed both groups had suffered from the same ringworm and other diseases. Question is whether the French authorities had medically treated the Moroccan Jewish children in the same way as Israel did?

          4. Richard,
            The Jewish emigrants from Iran, much like the other citizens of the country, are certainly not Arabs

          5. According to the British Journal of Medicine, articles written in 1948/1949:
            In 1948, the state of the art was 400 r over 5 fields


            Br Med J. 1948 Apr 17;1(4554):723-6.
            BRAIN RT, CROW K, et al.

            A year after, the recommended dose was 500 r (over 4 fields)

            Br Med J. 1949 Mar 26;1(4603):523.

        2. @ Fred: I’ve just discovered something I find very disturbing. You appear to have followed me to Reddit and published the same comment in the comment thread for my post there. This strikes me as something like a coordinated hasbara effort. I don’t know if you’re doing what you do on your own or coordinating with others. But whatever you’re doing, I object to it. Because of this I’m moderating you.

          1. I don’t even know what Reddit is, much less have an account.
            My moderation was always a fait acompli. I’m surprised I lasted this long.

          2. @ Fred: So let’s compare your comment to the one at Reddit. First your comment:

            The lethal dose (L.D. 50/30) death-rate of X-rays for humans is 250 – 300 rads, which means that if the children were given 500 to 600 times the maximum dose, 50% of the children would have died within 30 days. At 35,000 times the maximum yearly dose, the doctor, technicians and all the children would have been dead before the end of the month. This 6,000 figure is completely bogus or the maximum dose is bogus.

            Now Reddit:

            The issue appears to be the level of radiation given.
            Many of the commenters point out that the figure can’t be accurate:
            The lethal dose (L.D. 50/30) death-rate of X-rays for humans is 250 – 300 rads, which means that if the children were given 500 to 600 times the maximum dose, 50% of the children would have died within 30 days. At 35,000 times the maximum yearly dose, the doctor, technicians and all the children would have been dead before the end of the month. This 6,000 figure is completely bogus or the maximum dose is bogus.

            There are only two explanations: either you published both comments. Or you & the person who published the same comment at Reddit ripped this comment off from another source without attributing it. That means you stole someone else’s words & tried to pass them off as your own. That’s a very bad habit and would get you flunked out of any decent college course. So which was it?

            Interesting also that if you claim the comments are from two separate people that you both refused to use quotation marks to indicate you were quoting another source. I suppose it’s possible two separate people would be so sloppy. But it does make you wonder…

            Even if you both ripped it off from Wikipedia, I’m still going to keep you moderated since I don’t like people cutting & pasting like that w/o offering their source. Sources are important.

      2. @ shay: The term “Arab Jew” is standard in the world and in Israel itself. In Hebrew, it’s more common to use the terms you mentioned. But I used “Arab” deliberately because I wanted to be able to include Jews and Palestinians as victims.

    2. “…scalp irradiation was the worldwide standard back in the 50’s.”

      Gentian Violet was the standard as far as I know.

    3. I was in grade school in the 1950s. My Catholic school was in a Polish neighborhood where many refugees — “DPs” — from Hungary found shelter. I remember many DP children coming to school with finely-knit stocking caps that they wore in class; we were told they had ringworm & had medication on their scalps to control the disease. Periodically a public health nurse would come to the school and inspect all of us children for ringworm. I recall having my head examined with tongue depressors.

      Radiation was never mentioned. Maybe we were all too poor for that treatment. None of my classmates died of ringworm or treatment for it.

    4. Richard,

      I think that the title of the post (“Arab Children”? “Killed”? Come on!) as well as the tendentious and inaccurate interpretation in the body of the text pretty much reveals that you have thrown objectivity and fairness out the window. I have a Master’s degree in public health and have learned about the issue. Even the most casual perusal of literature on the subject reveals the outlandish exaggeration and inaccuracies in your post. Israeli was practicing a completely accepted form of treatment on JEWISH immigrants from MUSLIM and EUROPEAN countries. It was not “experimentation”. Ringworm was considered a social stigma at the time (like lice today), and very contagious. It was not until the 60s and 70s that a causal link between the radiation treatment and long term complications was found. The “scandal” arose regarding monetary compensation to those who suffered these complications.
      Your blog’s stated purpose is to “promote Israeli democracy”. How does this libelous post do that?

      1. @ Jeff: I always tell commenters who wish to dispute what I’ve written to read EVERY link in the post. If you had, you would’ve read Jonathan Cook’s post making crystal clear that Israeli Palestinian (hence the term “Arab” in the post title) children were subjected to this odious treatment.

        The reason I dispute what you claim is that if this were the standard treatment and it was used on every child in the world who contracted ringworm during that era, then there would’ve been millions of children killed due to radiation treatment. We would know of this scandal since other countries aren’t as opaque as Israel on such subjects. There would also be massive class action lawsuits by survivors the world over for their treatment.

        Further, you blame me for claims that derive not from my imagination but from the film itself, which was created by two Israeli Sephardi filmmakers. I suggest you take up your issues with them (which would be so much more difficult, since you’d rather stigmatize me, a non-Israeli).

        The elderly Israeli physician interviewed in the film, who makes clear that he never supported Sheba’s method or program also disproves your claim that everyone in the world medical establishment approved of this treatment.

        As for “libel,” you don’t know the meaning of the term. The ‘libel’ was done to the lives, health and happiness of 100,000 victims, not by me.

        1. I admit that I did not notice the link at the bottom of the post.

          Respectfully, permit me to make a detached observation. One of the problems with debates/discussions like these as that the participants cannot even agree on what or who is a reliable source of evidence and who is an expert. Each “side” can bring citations and links to “prove” whatever they want, according to their agenda. I can find Google sources, even seemingly credible ones, which show that 9-11 was a CIA plot. While this can provide infinite amounts of entertainment and lively discussion, one cannot arrive in that manner at the truth. They only way one can do this is to have agreed upon criteria as to what evidence can be brought into the discussion.
          In so many aspects of our lives we, by default, must rely on experts, because the facts and analysis can only be properly understood by somebody who has the knowledge, expertise and perspective to assimilate the information, and assess its reliability. Its the reason we license doctors and not let anybody who wants to read Medscape practice medicine. I claim that using that Ringworm film, is doing precisely that. It claims a conspiracy when there isn’t one.

          Richard, although I do not know you personally, I appreciate your desire to seek truth and justice, and I can only assume that you wish to do so honestly. Even though I disagree with some of your views, I respect your right to have them and can only hope for integrity in forming your opinions. On such a loaded issue as Israel, none of us can claim pure objectivity, any more than we can be objective about our spouse or children.

          Israeli media, while lively and relatively unrestrained, are highly politicized. As I mentioned earlier, prudence is required when using it as evidence. Unfortunately I see a lot of inaccuracies in the Israeli news, in subjects that I know something about. And, unlike in American media, there are no apologies or retractions. They can make shameless lies about something that are proven wrong, and there is no accountability.

          End of speech.

          1. To further illustrate my point, I would claim that an American peer reviewed medical journal would be considered a reliable source.
            Consider http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/3580808?uid=3738240&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21104905657063

            Here it is stated very clearly that radiation therapy was considered safe and effective and the treatment of choice until 1959, and the study is based on an a cohort of 2,224 American children who received the treatment at a NYU hospital.

            Having said that, and unrelated to radiation therapy, sefardi immigrants were indeed discriminated against in many ways back then, although for the most part in modern day Israel they have more than overcome this disability. (no Hasbara intended, god forbid 🙂

          2. @ Jeff: I don’t deny that radiation may’ve been considered a legitimate treatment. But not the dosage used by Sheba. If 200 was lethal and they gave children 350, then they killed them regardless of whether radiation was a legitimate form of treatment.

            If you think that Mizrahim have “overcome this disability” you know very little about modern Israel.

          3. @ Jeff: Amazingly, I agree with most of what you wrote in your comment. Though I’d say that the Israeli media is highly ‘restrained,’ censored, and gagged, at least regarding national security issues. I always exercise prudence when examining Israeli media sources. As much or more prudence as when examining U.S. media sources.

          4. Other than in the film, where else is it documented that children died from a radiation overdose?
            (I’m not talking about the long term consequences previously mentioned)

          5. i have articles from 1945 in the US where ringworm and treatment of ringworm is explained – without radiation. the only problem was that Israeli doctors (especially the German ones) could not read in English. In fact i also have statistics that doctors in Israel don’t read English medical literature. They are too busy making money under the table…

    5. @ Fred: The Wikipedia article was written, I’m certain, by the pro-Israel social media mafia. Everything in the article reeks of defending Israeli government actions & dismissing the film’s charges. Therefore, I don’t trust anything in it. It is NOT a credible source, nor are you.

      Before believing anything written there I’d insist you provide all the sources on which these claims are based. If the sources aren’t credible, as I’m reasonably certain is the case, then the claims aren’t either.

    6. Fred,

      Wikipedia cannot be relied on as far as Israel is concerned. Your hasbara mates managed to poison the wells there:

      “Wikipedia is a wonderful idea, brilliantly implemented, but it was always bound to have weaknesses as regards hot topics. Enough biased editors would always be able to skew articles on any particular topic – and nationalist topics are the worst affected. One can find all kinds of head-to-head disputes over, say, small countries in Eastern Europe, where there is lots of news badly covered by professional journalists and hence easily distorted.
      In one area, the problem is much more serious, covering far more articles than any other, and that is the Israel-Palestinian topic. Basically, Wikipedia was holed below the waterline as soon as editors such as Jayjg became firm personal friends of Jimbo Wales and set about writing history the way they wanted it to be. Jayjg was eventually told to knock it off, but only after most articles within the topic were heavily contaminated by the activities of him and his numerous cronies, great and small. Towards the end of 2010, one can still see a few very high-quality editors left and a huge amount of the most utter dross, editors who should, in very many cases, have been identified and stopped within days of their first appearance.
      The content of this page is intended to demonstrate the bias within Wikipedia brought about, ultimately, by the selective promotion of Zionists such as Jayjg to all administrative roles.
      Some of this page is a collection of evidence of the organisation (and funding) behind this manipulation.”



    7. [comment deleted: you know this sort of anti-Semitic crap isn’t going to get published, so why bother even trying?]

      1. I did not say anything insulting, hostile or degrading in my comment, nor did i attack any other correspondent here, but just spoke the truth.

        1. @mothman777: the first few paragraphs of your comment specifically about ringworm & its treatment were terrific. But then you lapsed into standard anti-Semitic rancidness. It’s not allowed here. So don’t argue any further with me about this. You know what I object to. If you persist in publishing it again, not only won’t it be published, you may be moderated or banned.

          1. I only wrote once, was totally deleted, and never argued with you. I never made any racist comments. I won’t comment on here again.

    8. The kids were driven away in the middle of the school day on buses to xray machines with no advance notice or consent from childrens parents. Also only Sapardic Jews were selected from the classrooms for “treatment.”

  2. Within a year of Wilhelm Roentgen’s 1895 discovery of a new form of radiation, that he called X-rays, the medical profession was using them for therapeutic as well as diagnostic purposes. Their first reported use in dermatology occurred in 1896 when Leopold Freund – the Viennese founder of radiotherapy – deployed them to treat a large hairy growth covering the entire back of a patient.

    Early experimental treatment of skin disease as soon as the X-ray machine was developed …

  3. I remember watching this documentary on LinkTV a few years ago; that Israel would let a guy use US Army-surplus X-ray machines from WWII to kill something as minor as ringworm said a lot about the nation’s priorities in the late 1940s-early 1950s, namely a blind belief in technology and a hatred of body impurities. That the Israeli government is too hypocritical to pay restitution to the survivors says a lot about the nation’s present priorities.

  4. Other “fascist” states did similar testing on poor patients. Possessing a nuclear weapon, requires a nation to perform further study on radiation effects. It’s a matter of good governance. [snark alert]

    Experiments full body irradiation

    Department of Defense funded non-consensual whole body radiation experiments on poor, black cancer patients. From 1960 to 1971, Dr. Eugene Saenger, funded by the Defense Atomic Support Agency, performed whole body radiation experiments on more than 90 poor, black, terminally ill cancer patients with inoperable tumors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. He forged consent forms, and did not inform the patients of the risks of irradiation. The patients were given 100 or more rads (1 Gy) of whole-body radiation, which in many caused intense pain and vomiting.

    [Definition Roentgen, conversion to Rad is approx. factor 1 for soft tissue and 4 for bone tissue.]

    Before his death at 90 years, Dr. Saenger told reporters in 1993:

    “These people were sick. They had far advanced cancer. We gave them this treatment to see . . . whether we could improve their condition. It was called palliative therapy. It was not intended to be curative therapy.”
    He added: “These are studies of which we are very proud.”

  5. There are some numbers in this article that don’t make sense. There is no way that a 200 rad (single dose) treatment would have been allowed in 1950. It was already known by the 1920s that such a dose would have killed outright many 10s of thousands people so exposed out of the 100,000 treated. If exposure was localized to the the scalp it would have literally burned the skin within a day or so. It was also known that much lower levels of exposure result in a higher incidence of leukemia over a period of the next 20 years. This information was learned from the fate of the first generation of raidoisotope chemists, early X-ray technicians and watch makers (remember the old glowing watch dials). What were considered acceptable levels of occupational exposure were set in the 1930s and modern exposure levels are fairly close to those (if I recall about 50% lower today).

    I do not doubt that x-rays were misused in the 1950s but those machines were not delivering exposures after single uses as high as mentioned in this article.

    1. @ ToivoS: Victims in the documentary describe their scalps being burned. One woman describes screaming that her scalp felt like it was burning. also, the documentary mentions that the U.S. supplied X-ray machiens were 10 years out of date and probably army surplus. All of which means that dosages were probably wildly out of whack, either too much or too little. But much more likely erring on the side of too much.

      If 6,000 of the 100,000 victims died in the first year after treatment, I think this proves the dosages were fatal in many, if not all cases.

      1. My guess is that the levels of exposure in your article are off by 1000. Even a 200 milli rad exposures would have been unacceptably high. If a single dose caused a patient to feel like her scalp was on fire that would be consistent with a focused beam that delivered multiple rads in a single treatment. It is hard to believe Israeli doctors would have resorted to this type of treatment for such a trivial condition as late as the 1950s. This is the level of exposure that is used in radiation treatment today to treat cancerous tumors. By focusing beams on a small area this treatment is basically burning the tumor. If those numbers in the original article are correct then we can say for sure that ignorance on the part of doctors is not an acceptable defense. It was already known by 1950 what the consequence of those levels of exposure meant.

  6. RS — I know you attempt to preempt analogies here with Nazi medicine, probably because such instances spring readily to mind. I want to suggest a different viewpoint on this whole matter of how far Israel has gone toward beliefs and ends similar to Nazi beliefs and ends.

    My own view eschews the idea of “evil” which often appears in your writing as though it is an explanatory device. Of course, you know it is not explanatory so much as a shorthand for many more complicated and rigorous assessments. Perhaps such analogies contribute to our understanding not of Israel’s “evil” (by association) but to our understanding of the more nuanced and human side of Nazi state evolution and, in this piece, the medical ethics of that state. Rather than stigmatizing Israel in this manner, an analogy can actually serve to qualify our view of the Nazi state. We see, by means of the analogy, the human frailty of Nazism, and move closer to an understanding of how human beings could, in fact, do such horrendous things to one another. To the extent that we can assign similarities, Israel’s evolution helps to understand the “evil” part of human endeavors. After all, Israel’s ethnic program cannot help but cross many of the same markers as the Nazi state did in its evolution, or, for that matter, some of same markers as the nascent American state, or points of similarity with the long history of imperialism. Forgive me of having to saying it but Nazis were human beings chasing after illusory ends with zeal and commitment. It is cheap to sum it all up as “evil.” Their crimes were justified by law and by the ends they sought. Israel seeks an end that is not unlike the Nazi idea, and perhaps as illusory, and it too is driven by zeal and commitment. I just think we need to remove “evil” as an explanatory device and allow such similarities to contribute to our understanding of human potential and its defects.

    1. Wise words. The debate should move away from using binary definitions, ie. absolute good versus absolute evil. To compare Israel to the Nazis is in a way too simplistic. All societies have their issues. All tyrannies have their causes. For instance, with regard to what happened in Germany, it’s rarely mentioned the effect WW1 had on its decline into Nazism. Sure, we know that their economy was crippled because of the war reparations and the wall street crash. Other than that, a autocratic, highly militaristic, chauvinistic society was forced to become a modern democracy. It’s sort of like George Bush going into Iraq to spread democratic values (or so he said) whilst also essentially breaking it, leaving it ripe for groups such as ISIS to conquer. But their is something else – there is a generation of young men who experienced the trenches. Hopped up on the glory of war, they came home to a broken country, an international pariah. The trenches were particularly traumatic. I have heard that the post traumatic stress that soldiers in other countries faced was nothing compared to what WW1 vets faced due to their constant proximity to the battlefield. In most other conflicts, their is a withdrawal, a retreat, a movement of some sort where the soldier gets away from the worst of it all. In WW1 there was no such thing. For months on end. These people were warped. And there was no shrink they could see, no support system they could lean on. They were on their own. I am not absolving them, but to understand is better than to dismiss and vilify. In many countries across Europe, fascistic movements grew as well as socialistic movements, where young men could vent their anger. Conspiracy was rife: most tragically, anti-semitism reared its ugly head. It’s no accident that it was in Germany and Russia, the countries most broken by their involvement in the war, the countries most turned on their heads, where the most extreme movements emerged.

      So, to bring it back to Israel, I think it has little in common with Nazi Germany, either in its inception or in its actions. I think a better framework to fit Israel into is good old fashioned nineteenth century colonialism. I would venture further and say that this is what people around the world are reacting to – it’s the language used by the politicians and some ordinary Israelis when speaking of the Palestinians and, ultimately, it’s the occupation itself.

      1. I could not agree more to what you just wrote:
        “So, to bring it back to Israel, I think it has little in common with Nazi Germany, either in its inception or in its actions. I think a better framework to fit Israel into is good old fashioned nineteenth century colonialism. I would venture further and say that this is what people around the world are reacting to – it’s the language used by the politicians and some ordinary Israelis when speaking of the Palestinians and, ultimately, it’s the occupation itself.”


        1. Certainly, there are similarities and contrasts. The shortcoming of applying the model of 19th century imperialism can be stated in terms of economics and ethnic consequences. Zionism is not an economic undertaken, it does not supply the “mother country” (world Jewry?) with economic materials and resources, at least, not as a dogma. Likewise, National Socialism was not primarily an economic program although it was inventive in this regard. Nazi’s sought lebensraum for ethnic ends, the expansion of the ethnic German domain. Mandate Palestine was selected by Zionists for a similar purpose, and the attachment to the West Bank itself seems curiously like a replay of lebensraum with its “settlers”! Capitalism (and its ethnic prejudices) drove colonialism whereas ideology and racialism have driven both Zionism and Nazism. A Jewish political state had not existed for millennia: I think Zionists might have done well to consider in depth why that had been case before launching their enterprise. (I think that was the case because other adjacent groups were far larger and more powerful, the very things that may eventually undo the modern Jewish state, IMHO. Were it all a matter of “will,” the Nazis might have lasted a lot longer.)

          1. I agree with you, but I think many nationalist movements are guilty of, if not the same actions, then the same intentions, at least in their most extreme form. If I were to choose one thing in comparison between Israel and early twentieth century Germany is the dominance of the military in each of the countries. The ties between the military and civic society run deep, and an ideology can develop that pervades all levels of society. This is detrimental because it means that, when the society is pushed to its limit, and a particularly nasty bunch get into power, then they have at their disposal a massive military juggernaut. And they have a people who have ties to the military in one way or another, who understand war as a way of life. They will find little meaningful opposition, and they can lead their people down a very dark path. This is the biggest problem that Israel faces. The ideology of the settlers in particular seems to be the driving force – but ultimately it’s the pervasiveness of the military and a military mindset throughout Israeli society that MAY push it over the edge. However, there is a countervailing force in Israeli society that is deeply humanistic. This has always been the thing that’s stopped this from happening. Say what you will about the Israelis, but I think a different people would have done much much worse over the years. Can these forces be held in balance? Lets hope so. But I think that Israel is coming to a point where it’ll face an existential threat, but not the usual one that rightwing politicians espouse: Not a repeat of the Shoah: Not a threat from virulent anti-semites of either the Arab or the European variety. No, Israel’s existential threat comes from within. The threat comes in the form of a choice: who do we want to be? What kind of society do we want to be part of?

        2. @RS — I wrote a relevant response to Conor Tobin and Elisabeth which you have pulled (“moderated.”). Please, when you can, explain why. It was not directly on point but not off point either. What was troubling you?
          Thank you.

          1. A quick aside for Conor Tobin: Yes, the pervasiveness of military within civil society is a valid point of comparison. I would think, however, that this phenomenon (increasingly visible in the US, btw) is strongly tied to ideological goals. Military, after all, advances and protects the goals of doctrine. So doctrine is at the heart of the comparison and one would be hard put to insist that Zionism was/is primarily a capitalist imperialist undertaking, which was the point I disputed. There remains then the possibility that a similar (peculiar) medical ethics might have guided both the ringworm affair in Israel and Nazi sponsored activities with respect to the German population, at least, e.g. euthanasia. I think this possibility is plausible, worth stating here, and worth more study.

  7. You raise “a strong note of caution” against viewing the Ringworm project as guided by Nazi values, yet suggest, through the headline, that Israeli doctors killed ten of thousands of ARAB children.
    – is this some kind of joke?
    I suggest that you clarify yourself and also change this severely misleading, antisemite allegation.
    Aren’t you already past that “one bridge too far”?
    I’ve been following your newsletter ever since the Gaza events and have found it generally thought provoking, although occasionally speculative. But this is really one bridge too far. There is so much real wrong in Israel. No need for headlines like that.

    1. @ Dan: Do NOT publish comments here without reviewing the comment thread to determine whether your claim has already been dealt with. I have. Now go find my response & save me the tedium of having to reply again, when I’ve answered your claim already.

      But I find it interesting, are you claiming that Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab lands and who spoke Arab as their native tongue were not “Arab?” Because if you made that claim it would be quite strange.

      1. North African berber are not Arabs and millions of people in every country in North Africa do not call themselves Arabs, ever those who profess to be Muslims. History tells us a very different story. Jews of North Africa were of Amzaigh origin, Spanish and Portuguese, Italian and Greek. It was possible to speak Arabic and not have an Arab identity. Just look at the whole of the Muslim world. People who speak English are not all from the UK… same story here. The history of the whole of North Africa during the past 1400 years is the struggle to retain identities and it continues to this day in every country, including Egypt. So, Jews of North Africa are not Arabs, never have been. We all have to go back to our history books again.

        1. Jabob: Everyone who speaks English is ‘English-speaking’ or Anglophone.’ Being Arab is primarily, though not completely, a function of your native language. Berbers do not speak Arabic.

          You’re creating false distinctions related to North African Jews. No serious scholar accepts your view, nor do I.

  8. Zionism is not Nazism, any more than Nazism was Mussolini’s brand of fascism…but they are related strains of racist ideological, evolutionary tribal cul-de-sacs of pre-human barbarity.

    Zionism has yet to run its full toxic course. I predict it will leave Hitlerism in its wake as a warm-up exercise if we fail to arrest it. In 1935 Nazism had yet to reveal its full psychopathological brutality.

  9. Except for the Strasser faction, German Nazism was an ethnic fundamentalist/monist aberration of the right. Mussolini’s fascism was not particularly racist and was an aberration of the left. Mussolini himself had a Jewish wife and a Jewish mistress. Italian fascism was, until the race laws forced by the German Nazis, more popular among Italian Jews than among Italian non-Jews.

  10. @Richard,

    You wrote:
    “@ shay: The term “Arab Jew” is standard in the world and in Israel itself.”

    and in another comment :
    “But I find it interesting, are you claiming that Jews who immigrated to Israel from Arab lands and who spoke Arab as their native tongue were not “Arab?” Because if you made that claim it would be quite strange.”

    Are you really that clueless about Israeli society? As Shay mentioned above, almost none of the Mizrahi Jews refer to themselves as “Arab Jews”. As a group, the Mizrahi Jews living is Israel simply reject that term FLAT OUT.
    Try telling my 85 year old grandma who was born and raised in Yemen that she’s an Arab Jew and she wouldn’t know whether to laugh at you or smack you on the head (probably you’ll get both).

    It’s very common, by the way, for Jews in Israel to refer to themselves by the specific country from which they (or their ancestors) arrived to Israel, so you’ll hear someone saying “I’m Iraqi”, or “I’m Moroccan”, or “I’m Russian”. But outside a very (very) small circle of mainly radical anti-zionist Mizrahi left, the term “Arab Jews” simply does not exist in Israel. You’re claim that this term is “standard” in Israel is just ridiculously wrong.

    1. @ Daniel: I realize that for some Mizrahim hearing the term “Arab” used in describing their ethnicity (even in English) is offensive. This of course has much to do with the stigma that Israeli society has placed on that term. I see no reason to allow ourselves to be influenced by the racism of Israeli society on this subject. The unavoidable truth is that in English (and to an extent in Hebrew as well) your grandmother is an Arab Jew as long as she speaks Arabic and hails from an Arab country.

      You aren’t aware of how Mizrahim are referred to in English, but I assure you it’s “Arab Jew.” There are scores of books using the term, some by eminent scholars in the field. Whether you like it or not it’s commonly accepted in English.

  11. This all seems very likely to me. Why, for example, did the Israelis separate the children , the Arabs Jewish children from the European Jewish children, before they give only the first group , not the second, the X rays? Why did they continue to X ray the kids when it was obvious that they were hurting many , if not all , of them? It is also well known that the USA experimented with atomic radiation , VD, LSD and various other poisons and weapons by secretly using their own soldiers, innocent black men and the general population over a period od at least 50 years? And no doubt the USA was looking for X rays as a method for crippling if not killing people in their ” next war”. No doubt the USA was quite willing to pay, and pay well for Human guinea pigs . Are the Arabs, Black and even Holocaust victims, all Jews, let alone the Muslims and the Christians, treated with respect in Israel today? Are the Palestinians- whose land was stolen from them by the Israelis? Does this video make sense? You figure it out. Check out Barry Chaimish for more .

  12. I do not understand why you object to the term Nazi which to me implies a political attitude rather than solely what happened in Germany. Nazi to me means a group of people who think they are so special and unique among human kind that they have to safeguard being pure regardless of the harm they do to other humans. Of course, it is a crazy supposition, but certainly not unique to Hitler and the Third Reich. You could say this of the settlers in Tasmania who murdered (directly and by not treating indigenous people with small pox) all, every last one, of the indigenous people they found when they got there. You could say this of the Western Europeans who settled America and who devised the end of even the natives who tried to assimilate such as the Cherokees. You could say this of the Zionists who, like Jabotinsky, feel that there has to be total submission or death of the indigenous natives for Israel to survive. And on and on it goes. I am dismayed at a couple of things I really don’t understand. Why is it that most often when I meet someone who is Jewish, one of the first things out of their months is, “I’m Jewish.” Secondly, why can every group of people on our planet take on the “we’re special” attitude and become Nazis except the Jews. From what I’ve seen in Palestine, the Jews are the same as everyone else – not worse, not better. So, qualifying some of them as Nazis doesn’t seem so very bad to me. Can you enlighten me?

  13. 1. Regardless of the debate about the nomenclature of “Arab Jews”, I would suspect the the provocative title of the post (in the spirit of the English version of Haaretz) was to imply that Jewish doctors killed Palestinians. Am I not correct? Otherwise, why wouldn’t you have chosen the title “Jewish doctors kill Mizrahi Jews” or “Arab Jews”? Do you consider Israeli Sefardi casualties of war or terrorism as “Arab victims”?
    2. Racial theories and eugenics were indeed very prevalent in European and North American societies well into the mid-20th century. It was not equivalent to Nazism. To some extent the European Jewish Zionists were influenced by this. Part of the ideology was to promote a new “brand” of Jew, different from the victimized, weak subservient Jew of Europe, but rather a strong, healthy, confident Jew who worked the land and built the country. As you know,there is controversy about early Zionist policy regarding taking in holocaust survivors.
    3. I still haven’t found any credible evidence that children were killed with radiation. Again I assume you’re not talking about the late effects. Other than the propaganda film it is not mentioned elsewhere. Surely a killing of 10000 children would have been mentioned somewhere else. I would have to accepts a wild conspiracy theory to believe that it occurred and was covered up. Only totalitarian states can do that, and even then only for so long.
    The radiation doses given were standard LOCAL (not whole body) doses, which cause local side effects. Much greater intensity local radiation is used to this day for treatment of cancers. (Note: 1 Grey= 100 Rads)

    1. @ Jeff:

      I would suspect the the provocative title of the post (in the spirit of the English version of Haaretz) was to imply that Jewish doctors killed Palestinians. Am I not correct?

      You once again haven’t read what I wrote in several comments here & I’m not going to say it again after this: Israeli doctors killed both Arab Jewish & Palestinian children, both of whom were “Arab.” Hence the headline. If you can’t comprehend this simple fact, it’s not my responsibility to do basic reading comprehension.

      I still haven’t found any credible evidence that children were killed with radiation.

      Don’t be a friggin’ idiot. The documentary stands on its own. The basic facts haven’t been refuted and the film itself offered numerous Israeli newspaper articles about the scandal. This is like saying no one’s proven that gravity exists since you haven’t ever seen it with your own eyes.

      You’re done in this thread. Move on.

  14. I suggest that all of you read Steven Pinker’s book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” .
    The book is a tome, but there are many enlightening chapters an man’s tribal nature and efforts to tame it.
    To deny this aspect of human nature is to bury your head in the sand. Sometimes group identity, be it based on ethnicity, faith, or political beliefs can be a positive thing, but sometimes it goes haywire, as with the Nazis. Usually, the inability to distinguish between the Nazis and Jewish or Israeli group identity (such as in the above comment) actually masks anti-semitic or other bigoted sentiments, because these people don’t deny the right of other of their favored groups (such as the Palestinians themselves) for self identity. This implies that its OK for Palestinians to expect identity and independence based on their ethnic makeup, but as for the Jews– they have to be universalists and give up their identity.

  15. Dear Richard Silverstein,
    October 13, 2014

    It is commendable that you published the article “The Ringworm Scandal: When Israeli Doctors Killed Tens of Thousands of Arab Children.” Indeed it should have been published a long time ago.

    My parents immigrated to Israel from Morocco in 1955. I have a brother and sister, who were 5 and 7 years old respectively and who received that treatment. We are not sure whether or not their current and continued medical problems are related to that “special Israeli welcome”; an Israeli welcome blessing, made especially for Moroccan Jewish kids in the 1950s. Evidently, to this very day, both have severe health problems.

    The above information, however, is not the reason for my note to you.

    The reason of this note to you is related to the fact that I’m still figuring out what were you trying to convey with the piece’s title? What do you mean by writing “…when Israeli doctors killed tens of thousands of Arab children”?

    I know it is a bone tone today among “progressive Jews” to call Jews who came from Arab countries Arab-Jews. But you are not saying even that; you are saying “Arab” not “Arab-Jews”. We, by the way call ourselves: Mizrachim.

    Isn’t it about time that you Richard Silverstein – as a progressive North American Jew – will adopt the way we call ourselves? Isn’t it fitting that you name us the way we name ourselves? Isn’t it time that you recognize the Ringworm Scandal’s victims in their accurate Israeli name and identity? Most of our parents came from Arab and Muslim countries. In Israel we have been transformed into Mizrachim. We were made into Mizrachim by Ashkenazi oppressive political methods and economic policies. We are Mizrachim. Call us in our proper name. Please.

    The Ringworm treatment was almost exclusively administrated to children of Moroccan parents. This medical treatment was part of an oppressive process that welcomed Jews immigrating from Arab countries. It was part and parcel of the process that transformed us into Mizrachim. Out of various Jewish communities, from various Arab countries, we were forced into an oppressive identity; an economic, political and cultural straightjacket and jail. Ashkenazi Jews made these oppressive measures and policies in Israel against Jews of Arab countries. The Ringworm treatment was only one among many such debilitating policies.

    It seems that there were a few Palestinian Arab children too. However, the majority of the kids who went through this hellish treatment were kids whose parents immigrated to Israel from Morocco.

    The victims’ identity should not be ambiguous. Much of the information related to this subject is not clear and, as you accurately said, was transformed into a “state secret”. The least you can do is to name the victims accurately. This should be done, under the assumption that you do not want to continue this horrific event by adding insult to injury and by covering this abysmal affair with shrouds of misinformation. Most likely you do not want to do similar acts to the acts that Israeli government has done in the past and keep-on doing today.

    It should be important to note that administrating this treatment has been an active and ordinary procedure by various Jewish agencies already in the countries of origin of Jews from Arab countries. There are people who investigated and wrote about this policy. You can ask them to provide you with the most accurate and full details. I will be happy to recommend them to you.

    Meir Amor

    1. @ Meir Amor: I have regularly used the term “Mizrahi” in this blog & as someone who’s posted comments here before, I hope you understand that. In fact, I believe I even used the term “Mizrahi” in the body of the post itself. In this particular case, I wanted to refer to both groups: both Arabs Jews & Palestinians and using the single word “Arab” seemed to me the best way to do it.

      I do not believe the term “Arab Jew” demeans or misconstrues Mizrahi identity. In fact, I believe that Mizrahim could be a key to reintegrating Israel into the region if there is ever a full peace agreement between Israel & the frontline states. That’s why I hope Mizrahim never lose their identities, nor their sense of connection to the Arab world. And if there are Mizrahim who object to the term, I personally believe it’s because of the prejudice to which they’ve been subjected by the Ashkenazi elite. “Arab” should not be a term of opprobrium just as “Mizrahi” should not be.

      1. Richard,
        The term “Arab” does not demean but clearly misconstrue the identity of Jews hailing from Arab and Muslim countries. The reason is simple: it is history and a bit of theory. Historically speaking Jews were in North Africa and in, of course in Iraq long before Arabs came there. North Africa was Arabized and Islamisized. These were violent impositions on the people of the region. Some of the people are still resisting that imposition even today. Jews were in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco long before Arabic language was ever spoken there. In fact Hannibal might have spoken a language that many Israelis would have understood if they were soldiers in his army fighting the Roman legions in the Punic Wars.
        Now to your second point though it is based and rooted in good will and aspiration for peace it uses people. Our identity – that is the identity of Jews who came from Arab countries was influenced by Arab and Muslim civilizations. However, our culture goes far back. We are not determined by the Arab Muslim world. We were connected to it. We are part of the Middle East. Exactly like many Arabs and especially like Palestinians and in many respect more so. If you were to respond to my article (and not ignore it) sent to you about a month ago (on the 2014 Gaza War) you could have found this argument articulated there. I do not reject my Arabness, but I’m attentive to my Jewish heritage. A tradition that reaches far beyond the Arabized identity and Islamized history of the Middle East. Last, Ashkenazi elite had installed its prejudices as the Israeli narrative and canon. You, however, are trying to instal your narrative using Mizrahi history as a grist to your mill. If you are interested in presenting “our” history or the history of the Ringworm scandal as close as possible to a full story you would not have tried to craft it into an “Arab story”. It has it own stand and place. it has and casts its own shadow. At least it should have it, if you were attentive rather than imposing and Arab narrative. Mizrahi history needs to be told. You can contribute by simply telling it not using it. Thanks.
        Meir Amor

  16. Hello Richard,
    Thanks for returning to me. Neither “Arab” nor “Mizrachi” is an opprobrium to me, on the contrary. However, Mizrachi, like any social identity, is a by product of social relations. Exactly as Ashkenazi as a social identity is. Both were created in Israel. If you wish both are Sabras. They have little to do with geographical place of birth and much more to do with the political economy of Zionist enterprise in Israel. The Ringworm Scandal was part of an oppressive process by which Mizrachim were created and demoted while Ashkenazim elevated and promoted. As far as we know there are no reports on any European children that were treated with this procedure. How many Palestinian children were treated with the Ringworm procedure? I don’t know. In fact, nobody had published any verified claims about it, yet. Ignoring or omitting the disproportionate number of Moroccan kids in this procedure is adding to the injury of suffering and killing the insult of misrecognition. Many in Israel – like me – have adopted and embraced the Mizrachi notion and identity as a critical stand against Ashkenazi policies of history and culture effacement. Eradicating the memory and tradition of millions of Jews in Israel including their recent history in Israel itself. Official Israeli narrative does not like or want to “see” the horrors it inflicted. We know that. To some extent, my claim here, is that “Tikun Olam” should have supported restoration and dignity rehabilitation advanced by such Mizrachi claims. It should have done that and should do it by telling an accurate story by naming unambiguously the Jewish victims of Zionism (As Prof. Ella Habiba Shoat had aptly called it following the late Prof. Edward Said). The Ringworm scandal is first and foremost a tragedy inflicted on thousands of Moroccan Jewish kids who arrived in Israel hoping to be redeemed. They encountered hellish reality. It should be stated, unequivocally. As I said, there are people, who I know, who can supply Tikun Olam with much needed information and analysis. All the best. Meir Amor

    1. @ nadav: Please stop wasting our time by not watching the film. Nearly half of it deals with this fatally flawed, inadequate law. Once again, if you decide to publish a comment without doing your homework you’re only going to look foolish and waste your time & ours.

  17. eugenical practices were brought to Israel long before the Ringworm children fell victims to them: http://www.haaretz.co.il/misc/1.1558449 (for Hebrew reader). More then that: the archives were open for Prof. Modan (former general manager of the health ministrey), who published an article in The lancet and made his career also thanks to the epidemiologic data considering the lethal and morbid effect of the radiation. Ans if it is wrong? well, then the israeli authorities should open the archives (also these on the matter of disappearing of 100 jemenite babys) and stop hiding the information. As long as they hide, the are guilty

  18. I am a Christian Arab, and I consider the Jewish ringworm victims are Arabs. Typical of Zionist Western behavior.

  19. It is blatantly false that America would not do the same thing because IT DID EXACTLY THAT to African American 5 year olds in Indiana around the same time. View the video ” HOLE INHE HEAD”. To Jews and whites in America, you can’t correct what you refuse to acknowledge. It is a crime against GOD and cannot be hidden forever and is NEVER HIDDEN FROM GOD. It is no different from the horrendous experiments committed by the Nazis.

  20. Ok here’s my cynical view of how it was. Back in day Eugenics was looked upon favorably. Any country that wanted to could meddle in it, Germany did we know, Israel looks to have tried. But I believe this was a mentality world wide at the time, I know the Japanese weren’t very nice either back then, Oh Bushido.

    To sum it up, the thinking across the globe at the time was similar human life was just a statistic.

    Looks though as time passes, the attitude around the globe changes, we live in a time with a very high level of apathy, we are more connected than ever now. Leaks of classified information that is detrimental to us are coming out left right and center and people know about it. This shows that we are becoming better people over all, i really hope no more of this garbage happens, or if it does it needs to be exposed instantly as to spare the victims.

    Its honestly up to all of us as a whole to make sure never to let anything like this happen, cry bloody murder if you notice anything and change will happen.

    I am afraid though there can be two ways about this future, either we have changed for the better, or……
    maybe tactics to eugenics have changed. Try to question vaccines see what happens. Its weird because i’m all for vaccines, but there are so many now, how hard is it to slip one in that isn’t good? And if you question one it seems you question ALL of them. Interesting stuff because they pushed this HPV vaccine pretty hard on the media gave it to boys and girls.

    1 thing is 4 sure, the future will be FUN

  21. What is a Nazi ideology? It’s one alleging the vast superiority of one group and the worthlessness of all others. Is that not how people talk in the State of Israel?

  22. I was treated with radiation therapy at age of 3 for ringworm. Was treated in Dubuque Iowa. It left scar tissue on my head where no hair grows. Have lived with this all of my life.

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