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UCLA psychiatrist praises ‘revolutionary suicide’ in protest of Israel

Soldier who set himself on fire to protest Israel policy praised by UCLA doctors

The airman who set himself on fire to protest America’s support for Israel committed a “revolutionary suicide,” according to a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The comments came during a talk called “Depathologizing Resistance” through the UCLA medical school’s psychiatry department by Drs. Ragda Izar and Afaf Moustafa. The Washington Free Beacon obtained audio of the April 2 event and reported on it April 12.

The two doctors were commenting on the suicide by fire of Aaron Bushnell. The U.S. Air Force member lit himself on fire in February as “an act of protest against Israel’s war in Gaza,” National Public Radio reported at the time.

Dr. Izar (pictured, right) said Bushnell “carried a lot of distress.”

But does that mean that the actions he engaged in are any less valid,” she asked.

“The underlying question was basically, ‘is it not normal to be distressed when you’re seeing this level of carnage [in Gaza],’” she asked.

“At UCLA, Izar and Moustafa, who are practicing psychiatrists, argued that self-immolation is a reasonable response to geopolitical events and that the taboo against it serves ‘the interests of power,'” the Free Beacon reported.

“Psychiatry pathologizes non-pathological … reactions to a pathological environment or pathological society,” Dr. Moustafa (pictured, left) said, according to the audio. “It’s considered illness to choose to die in protest of the violence of war but perfectly sane to choose to die in service of the violence of war.”

However, Dr. Izar also said, at the end of the presentation, that psychiatrists should not comment on people they have not evaluated. This is called the “Goldwater Rule,” named for American Psychiatric Association guidance that followed some professionals attempting to diagnose 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, despite not being his actual doctor.

“In the same way that we shouldn’t be commenting on political candidates who are running for president, as much as we may want to, [the Goldwater Rule] raises the question of what authority do we have as psychiatrists to publicly comment upon instances of revolutionary suicide and other acts of resistance,” Izar said.

UCLA has had several incidents lately in which it has veered from the general practice of American medical ethics.

Last week a talk was cancelled that blamed the current opioid crisis on “whiteness.” The College Fix reported that the talk topic was changed two days before it was scheduled to take place.

The College Fix previously reported on wokeness at the medical school, including one in which a speaker coerced students to say a prayer to “Mama Earth” in a class on structural racism. 

But having doctors cheering on suicide for political reasons having to do with “settler colonialism,” or anti-Zionism, seems even more egregious than the previous trespasses on normal medical and education practice. It’s time for the people in charge to start doling out consequences. 

 MORE: Abortions come to Columbia campus

IMAGES: Institute for International Health and Education; STARC Lab

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