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Israeli Doctors Denied Access to and participation in the World Diabetes Congress, International Diabetes Federation, Dubai

posted Jan 30, 2012

The following is a letter penned by an Israeli doctor in December 2011, after learning of being denied access to the World diabetes Congress in Dubai.


Dear friends and colleagues,


Many of you are now on your way to Dubai, and I wish you safe travels and hope that you enjoy a successful IDF meeting. Thousands of participants from dozens of countries all over the world will benefit from this important exchange of ideas and return to home reinvigorated with fresh energy and enthusiasm as a result of the congress.


Not all countries, however, will benefit to the same extent. Some of you will now have read the latest email (appended below) from our Israeli colleague, Professor Itamar Raz, with additional clear examples of still more Israeli colleagues who applied to go to the IDF Congress in Dubai, yet were denied permission. We must honestly and realistically acknowledge that the vast majority of Israeli clinicians, scientists, industry professionals, and lay attendees, would simply not have even bothered to apply for admission to the UAE, given the reality of the circumstances and challenges they would face in attempting to make the trip to Dubai. The best and most accurate measure of whether our Israeli colleagues will have truly felt welcome and have easy access to the IDF meeting is a simple one. How many Israeli delegates registered for and actually attended the Dubai IDF meeting? I would ask the IDF executive to provide us with this information at the close of the meeting next week, along with historical comparisons for Israeli attendance at the last 3 IDF meetings, and current and historical control numbers for delegates from 2-3 countries with similar populations and socioeconomic/scientific development, so we can truly and accurately gauge the extent to which Israelis felt welcome, and participated in this years meeting.


The communications surrounding this issue over the past year and especially the last 2 weeks have been uneven, and regrettably, not always accurate. Many questions have been left unanswered, information provided that was not always factual, and some queries (those from industry) were answered in a much more rapid, helpful and constructive manner, relative to queries from others. We were provided with reassurance, for example, that the International Bar Association held a very successful international meeting in Dubai several weeks ago. Yet a review of what actually transpired at the IBA is troubling ( article), and frankly contradicts this assertion.


Those of us who spend our professional lives in the domains of science and medicine take for granted that issues must always be dealt with in the most honest, transparent, and fair manner, as we have a sacred trust to uphold with our patients and scientific communities. Integrity must always be one of our fundamental core values.


The events of the past few weeks surrounding ease of participation in the IDF meeting have challenged some of these notions, and have been highly unsettling. Allow me to close with an obvious restatement of purpose. Diabetes is a major public health problem worldwide, and the IDF is at the forefront of leading the fight to combat this disease across the globe. The mission of the IDF is terribly important, and we must join together, put aside our differences, and pool our intellectual and financial capital if we are to make progress in education and treatment in all countries. We must reach out to all nations, rich or poor, irrespective of their ideology, if we are to be successful in our mission. However, at no time should we compromise our core beliefs or behaviours, nor should we make decisions that impair our credibility and effectiveness.


I do not believe that we should marginalize one segment of our international community simply to gain access to another. Jean-Claude has correctly pointed out that the issue of access to IDF meetings for delegates from various countries is complex, and involves both economic and political considerations. It seems clear that the IDF must never again hold a meeting/congress in a country that is openly hostile to and presents major obstacles for participation to a segment of our international membership. Some of you will recognize that the words "never again" resonate in this context.


I wish all of you a very successful congress, and a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year.




Sarit (Laetitia) Bennaim



email: [email protected]





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