American Medical Association won’t stand up for Gaza’s health workers

A ceasefire is urgently needed to protect healthcare workers and other civilians. 

Omar Ashtawy APA images

Why is the American Medical Association (AMA) not speaking out against Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza?

That is a question we have been asking for several months now.

Since the bombardment of Gaza began in October, Healthcare Workers for Palestine - Chicago has been asking the AMA for three simple things: Uphold the oath to do no harm by calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, advocate for the safety of Palestinian colleagues in medicine and stand ready to provide humanitarian aid in Gaza.

We have sent email messages to the AMA, made phone calls, requested meetings and organized a protest. During that protest – held on 18 December – two of our representatives tried to deliver a formal written request to the AMA’s headquarters in Chicago.

Not only were our representatives refused entry, they were called “unwanted guests” by security.

In the absence of any response from the AMA, we are left to draw the conclusion that the association is unbothered by the murder of more than 26,000 Palestinians and the Israeli bombardment of hospitals and clinics in Gaza and completely indifferent to the more than 400 healthcare workers who have been murdered by Israeli occupation forces.

The AMA ignores not only public demands but the demands of its own members.

At a conference in November, the AMA rejected a resolution from its sections for medical students, residents and physician fellows urging that the AMA “support a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine in order to protect civilian lives and healthcare personnel.”


At an earlier meeting in November, the House of Delegates – the AMA’s legislative and policy-making body – dramatically shut down efforts to express solidarity with Gaza’s healthcare workers.

When a resident delegate introduced a resolution by providing updates on the death toll and number of hospitals targeted, the moderator Dr. Lisa Egbert cut them off stating “we don’t need a listing.”

A short while later, Dr. Andrew Gurman, former AMA president, urged the delegates to reject the resolution. He said, “We leave our practices twice a year to come and talk about the problems that are facing doctors and patients in America…we have to deal with our own public health issues.”

A transcript from the event shows that at least two delegates attempting to speak in favor of the resolution were subsequently silenced during their timed remarks. Egbert appeared to suggest that attacks on non-American healthcare workers are not of concern to the AMA by stating that delegate remarks should be limited to items relevant to “our AMA advocacy, our AMA ethics, or urgently in need of our AMA’s review.”

If a comment on the intentional targeting of hospitals, the mass kidnapping of healthcare workers from these facilities and the bombardment of an entire healthcare system does not fall under the AMA’s scope, one begins to wonder if it deserves any scope at all.

Gerald Harmon, a former AMA president, wrote in 2022, “It’s impossible to watch the heartbreaking images from Ukraine and not feel a deep sense of loss… and the longer this war unfolds, the more dire it becomes for civilians and for courageous physicians and health care workers flocking to the region to save lives.”

Harmon added that the “enormous humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” cannot be ignored by “our global community of physicians.”

The American Medical Association has called the war in Ukraine “senseless.” It has helped collect tons of medical equipment and supplies that were sent to Ukraine and assisted in the collection of bulletproof vests for doctors.

This is the response deserved by all healthcare workers serving their patients in theaters of war.


In response to the enormous humanitarian crisis in Palestine, the AMA has urged “medical neutrality” and offered no words of comfort or solidarity for its colleagues in Gaza facing annihilation.

As Mary Turfah, a medical student and commentator, writes in The Baffler, “Neutrality was never intended to be a moral commitment, but rather a means to immunity.”

Immunity for doctors in war, but now more than ever, immunity from a collective conscience.

In its 9 November statement advocating for medical neutrality, the AMA conveniently ignored a slew of its existing policies that enable it to stand up for healthcare workers. One such policy condemns “the military targeting of healthcare facilities and personnel and using denial of medical services as a weapon of war, by any party, wherever and whenever it occurs.”

The AMA has also committed to “act to reduce the incidence of antagonistic actions against physicians as well as other healthcare workers” and “refrain from supporting or committing crimes against humanity and condemn any such acts.”

AMA members and stakeholders may well be surprised that in the face of verified war crimes perpetrated against healthcare workers by Israel, this organization cowers when forced to apply its own principles. The AMA’s refusal to join the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the American Public Health Association in calling for a ceasefire, or at minimum offering words of support to “our global community of physicians,” will not save it from criticism.

Such blatant hypocrisy damages the public face and credibility of the institution, furthering the already entrenched idea that the AMA exists only to sell itself. Archaic indeed is the organization that sends more mailers about purchasing its brand of disability insurance than timely and thoughtful coverage of the ways in which this Israeli campaign is threatening the key pillars of medical ethics.

In the face of this blatant hypocrisy by the AMA, Healthcare Workers for Palestine - Chicago firmly believes in an ethical duty to protect life everywhere in the world.

We wish to remember the commitment and sacrifice of healthcare workers in Gaza. Let us honor those who have been murdered by Israel’s occupation forces.

Despite the prevailing narratives, the lives of Palestinian men, women and children hold no less value than the lives of Ukrainians simply because of their nationality, religion or history.

We stand ready to meet, discuss and collaborate with the American Medical Association to swiftly address the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people. If only the same could be said for the AMA.

Tammy Abughnaim and Emily Hacker are members of Healthcare Workers for Palestine - Chicago.




The AMA lives up to its long history of reactionary politics. Disgraceful. I’ve never been a member but I support the demands of HCW for Palestine - Chicago.


As a doctor I am saying loud and clear I am against all war and especially GENOCIDE. AMA and all our medical institutions that have remained silent and practiced unethical silencing, doxxing, firing of peace supporters or those speaking up for Palestine cast a long shadow of shame on our great profession. I know the vast majority of my esteemed colleagues feel the same in the need for an immediate ceasefire and end to this humanitarian catastrophe of America’s doing, yet we are overridden by the extremist few. It is high time we take control of our profession and not business and special interests that are heavily invested in war and war crimes, the very thing we as doctors are fighting. All peace-loving healthcare workers, we must join together now to overcome the corrupt few that are destroying the fabric of our profession. Shame shame shame on AMA and so many other institutions, journals (NEJM, JAMA, Nature), hospitals, universities (Harvard Medical School, NYU) for your complicity with genocide. You will forever go down as being on the wrong side of history and an affront to medicine. You should have to turn in your medical licenses immediately. Nazis had medical doctors tried at Nuremberg and so shall this conflict one day.


I recently listened to Democracy Now, where a Chicago ER doctor that went to Gaza for three weeks. His experience was raw-you could see it in his face. He has lobbied Congress for better protection for healthcare workers. His name is Dr. Thaer Ahmed, @tahmadMD (not sure if this is X or Instagram). He made specific mention of the conditions that the Gaza doctors and healthcare workers practice under, being something unimaginable for Western practitioners. I agree (am a retired RN), and think the AMA is falling drastically short on this.


Look at Dr. Andrew W. Gurman’s FB page. He has a post showing he donated to American Friends of Magen David Adom, so he is likely a Zionist.


It pains me to witness the level of indifference that many organizations have shown for Palestinian lives. Those organizations that choose to stay silence agree with the Israel, US, Uk Canada, and other governments crimes. Killing is their favorite pastime. Shameful!


Doctors do not have to be members of the AMA. Don’t pay dues to that reactionary, racist, capitalist, unethical organization.

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