July 30, 2018
In his 1986 book, The Nazi Doctors, Dr. Robert J. Lifton explained the indispensable role that medical doctors played in the Holocaust. He also documented that some of them were Jewish prisoners themselves whose work on selections (of who would be exterminated), sterilization surgery (performed without anesthesia), and outright murder (phenol injections) mirrored that of their Nazi doctor counterparts. That they were exceptions to the rule, and that they were under continuous threat of execution themselves for non-cooperation is clear. But their stories show that, under extreme conditions, even doctors sworn to first do no harm can become their patients’ torturers and killers.
And that brings us to the revelation, last week, that a Jewish doctor at Montefiore Hospital was shown to have authored a number of white supremacist statements that called into question his suitability to work in a community as ethnically diverse as the Bronx. The hospital has since placed him in off duty status while an investigation takes place, and the doctor has expressed his regret over the things he wrote. Significantly, he was under no pressure from a genocidal regime or from homicidal camp guards when he wrote in support of transforming the USA into a white ethnostate. The question now is whether he took any actions, or non-actions, in furtherance of that goal.
About three dozen activists gathered today outside Montefiore Hospital to demand the firing of radiology resident Dov Bechhoffer. Given the black eye his racist declarations have given the hospital, his firing might seem all but inevitable. However, as of today it hasn’t happened. Predictably, the “alt-right” has doubled down on the controversy, scorching Bechhoffer for his apology. A request by the Gazette for information from his department on his pay status and whether a retrospective investigation of the cases he treated is underway went unanswered.