More than 500 doctors from around the world, including five Nobel Laureates and Labour Party peer Professor Lord Winston, have attacked The Lancet for publishing what they claim are “numerous vicious and deliberately inflammatory falsehoods, omissions and abusive dishonesty” criticising Israel. The accusation relates to a letter that the complainants say represents “malignant wilful disregard of honest and ethical medical authorship and editorship.”
The letter in question gave the authors’ view of the medical impact on civilians in Gaza of Israeli military action, declaring it a “crime against humanity.” It did not include any acknowledgement of the role of Hamas in the conflict.
Founded in London 1823 The Lancet is today regarded as a leading international general medical journal of record, describing itself as “an independent and authoritative voice in global medicine.” The critics, self-identifying as “Concerned Academics” accuse editor Professor Richard Horton of “grossly irresponsible and damaging editorial misuse of [the journal] for political purposes.”
The doctors also identify what they see as the “abject failure of the owner/publisher, Reed Elsevier, to enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship” and accuse it of “profiting from the publication of dishonest and malicious material that incites hatred and violence.” The authors suggest a boycott may be considered, stating that no potential contributor is “under any obligation to submit and review material for publication in [Reed Elsevier’s] journals or to serve on their editorial or advisory boards.”
The complaint was triggered by the refusal of Reed Elsevier to retract and apologise for the letter published by the journal last year. “An open letter for the people in Gaza” purported to “challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre.” Its critics allege it contains “false assertions, unverifiable dishonest ‘facts’, many of them libellous, and glaring omissions”.
Two of that letter’s original signatories, orthopaedic surgeon Dr Swee Ang and genetics professor Dr Paola Manduca, had previously emailed to contacts a video of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke entitled “CNN Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix” in which he alleged that “some of the Jewish elite practices racism and tribalism to advance their supremacist agenda.” Although Dr Ang later admitted she did not know who Duke was when she distributed the video and Dr Manduca denied being anti-Semitic, their support for Duke’s video was noted on his official website as was his approval of their letter.
The Daily Telegraph reported last October that Professor Horton declared himself “personally horrified at the offensive video” which he condemned as abhorrent. Despite that Horton still refuses to retract publication of the letter and has found support for his decision from rival group of medical professionals, Hands Off The Lancet.