Jerusalem – This week, Egypt’s First Lady, Suzanne Mubarak, is hosting a major international conference on breast cancer.

The conference is to be held in Alexandria and great medical minds from all around the world are expected to take part in a march that is geared to raise public awareness about the deadly disease. But not all the great medical minds are welcome. The Egyptian health minister issued last-minute instructions not to include doctors from Israel in the conference.

The event is being organized by Dr. Susan G. Komen, an American doctor considered to be a leader in the war on breast cancer, who runs an agency that funds research, treatment and regional cooperative efforts.

Israeli physicians were supposed to attend the conference. They were to have shared with doctors from around the world Israel’s experience in coping with breast cancer.

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But after all of the security arrangements had already been made and after they even had a meeting scheduled with Mrs. Mubarak, the cancellation came down.

Among the Israelis who were boycotted are members of the Tishkofet organization, which treats terminal patients. The organization is founded by Dr. Dvora Koren and her husband, Professor Ben Koren, an oncologist.

Dr. Dvora Koren told the Israeli media about the last-minute boycott.

“At the last minute we received a phone call from Egypt in which we were told that the Egyptian health minister had decided that we weren’t going to participate,” she said.

“It isn’t a security issue,” said Koren, “since the Egyptian authorities approved our arrival and the fact of the meeting at the conference with Suzanne Mubarak. At first, we’d planned on entering with foreign passports, but as soon as they realized that we were Israelis – along came the cancellation.”

What is ironic in this story is the attempt by senior Egyptian officials to praise the regional cooperation evinced in this conference, the boycott notwithstanding.

“This is an excellent example of cooperation among the various governments, survivors of the disease and the rest of the global community. This is proof of the world’s unity in the war on breast cancer,” said Dr. Muhammad Shaalem, who is the head of the Egyptian cancer association.

Israel, at least in the view of the people organizing the conference in Egypt, isn’t part of the global community.

Israeli Foreign Ministry officials are furious about the Egyptian decision.

“If the information is accurate,” said a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry “then, at issue is, without doubt, a very grave refusal by the regime in Egypt to grant visas.”

David Bedein can be reached at


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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: and A new site,, will be launched very soon.