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March 11, 2012 5:06 pm

The Lancet: A Biased and Shameful Medical Journal

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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First edition of The Lancet.

“The Lancet” is a weekly peer-reviewed medical journal, which is described on parent company Elsevier’s, website as “the world’s leading independent general medical journal”, and as “stringently edited and peer-reviewed to ensure the scientific merit and clinical relevance of its diverse content.” Yet, on March 5 and 6, The Lancet hosted a two-day conference entitled “Health of Palestinians Inside and Outside the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” at The American University in Beirut, Lebanon – bias against Israel at its finest.

One wonders if The Lancet invited its many Jewish readers to the conference – and if they advised American participants that if they had an Israeli stamp in their passports, the Lebanese government wouldn’t permit their entrance into the country – as part of their peer review process. Lancet Editor Richard Horton presented the opening remarks where he “discussed research as a tool for social justice, equity and as means of addressing power and inequity in Palestine, in the refugee camps around the region,” and throughout the world.

Here is a list of some of the topics presented at this “independent” conference which is “peer-reviewed”:

  • “Effect of training counseling program on psychological stress among amputees in Gaza governorates, Palestine, during Gaza war.”
  • “Dignity and its components among Palestinian youth.”
  • “Physical and mental health of long-term Palestinian political prisoners”

The following suggested topics for the conference, may have brought a semblance of balance to the agenda:

  • “Psychological stress of families of suicide bombers induced to kill themselves by terrorist organizations.”
  • “Dignity and its components of Israeli victims of Arab terror”
  • “Physical and mental health of Palestinians tortured by Palestinians.”

During this conference there was not a mention of Israel’s top-notch medical and healthcare programs, nor of Israeli and Arab collaborations on medical programs in Israel. The full conference agenda may be found here.

Let’s look at some recent tweets by journal Editor Richard Horton, who can be found on twitter at: @richardhorton1

  • “800 000 Palestinians have been imprisoned on political grounds since 1967. Often on no charge and with no trial. And this is justice?”
  • “The Palestinian cry: ‘We want our country.’ For those of us who take our nations for granted, how can we be silent when we hear this plea?”

With woefully biased tweets like these, one wonders why this man is editing a medical journal rather than a political publication – and how Elsevier can permit the Editor of Lancet to host a biased conference, which woefully misrepresents the truth. Horton simply uses the Journal as a platform to express his personal opinions on Israel.

Some of the “peers” participating in the conference include:

  • Rema Afifi: Signatory to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to Choir of Clare College, Cambridge urging it to reconsider performing in Israel.
  • Majdi Ashour: A supporter of the Third Annual Palestine Solidarity and Divestment Conference at Rutgers, and a signatory to a petition which spoke of the Palestinian fight “against apartheid all over historic Palestine occupied in 1948″³ and “ethnic supremacy and pursuit of purity” being carried out by Israel.

Owning a leading NY PR agency, with a number of healthcare clients publishing peer-related journals, I understand that a fundamental component of peer-reviewed journals is freedom from bias. Conferences and articles aren’t promoted or published without a clear declaration of conflict of interest by its authors or promoters. Why is it that Lancet publishes no such declarations, and why are they so openly biased against Israel’s existence?

One wonders why a medical publication would lower its bar to host a conference, which is so politically anti-Israel, biased against the Jewish state, and so far beyond the field of medicine. Why would they employ an Editor who tweets about political prisoners, and the “Palestinian cry for Justice?”

Anyone curious should contact the owners of Lancet and ask them and their advertisers if a medical journal should be anti-Israel:

Bill Godfrey is the Chief Information Officer: b.godfrey@elsevier.com, 212-633-3100

Anne Rosenthal is the Head of Public Relations: a.rosenthal@elsevier.com, 212-633-3812

Ronn Torossian is the CEO of 5WPR, a leading PR agency and author of “For Immediate Release”, a PR book.

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