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May 8, 2015 10:21 am

How Medicine is Used to Promote the Demonization of Israel

avatar by Yona Schiffmiller /

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File photo of a Qassam rocket fired from a civilian area in Gaza towards civilian areas in Southern Israel. Photo: WikiCommons.

File photo of a Qassam rocket fired from a civilian area in Gaza towards civilian areas in Southern Israel. Photo: WikiCommons.

JNS.orgSome of the main antagonists in the political war against Israel are under increasing counter-pressure. For instance, the British medical journal The Lancet and its editor, Richard Horton, have been accused by hundreds of doctors of violating ethical standards. In response, Horton’s allies are attempting to silence the detailed criticism as an “assault on free speech.” This counter-attack, which is taking place in traditional and social media channels, glosses over The Lancet‘slong track record and central role in demonizing Israel by exploiting medical frameworks.

The latest criticism of The Lancet stems from the publication of “An Open Letter for the People of Gaza“ in July 2014. This mendacious letter refers to Israel’s response to terror attacks from Gaza as “the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre,” while accusing 95 percent of Israeli academics of being “complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza.”

Horton’s publication of this letter in The Lancet caused significant backlash, with more than 700 doctors organized as “Concerned Academics for Editorial Ethics“ protesting “the abject failure of the [Lancet‘s] owner/publisher, Reed Elsevier, to enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship.” Their petition calls for retracting the “open letter” and issuing a formal apology.

The petition highlights the false allegations against Israel, the offensive language, and the immoral activities of some co-authors. In particular, Drs. Paola Manduca and Swee Ang Chai circulatedvirulently anti-Semitic video produced by white-supremacist David Duke, claiming to reveal “how the Zionist Matrix of Power controls Media, Politics and Banking.”

This is only one of the many anti-Semitic libels promoted by Manduca. In September 2014, she posted an article using the term “parasite” to refer to Israel and American Jews.  Four months earlier, Manduca referred to Judaism as “racist,” “imperialist,” and “genocidal.”

Manduca’s anti-Semitic vitriol is accompanied by other troubling activity. Her previous articles in The Lancet reflected an association with InterPal,classified by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization and “a principal charity utilized to hide the flow of money to Hamas.”  Additionally, sheforwarded an e-mail from another U.S.-designated terrorist organization—the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine—calling on its supporters to “take to the street” during the 2014 conflict. These ties, combined with the flagrant anti-Semitism expressed by these two authors of the “open letter,” underscore the ethical failure of Horton and The Lancet in publishing it.

After these revelations increased pressure on Elsevier, which publishes The Lancet, Horton’s allies launched a sharp counter-attack, led by a group called “Hands Off The Lancet.” In their public writings, this group ignored the main issues, such as the David Duke connection and Manduca’s virulent anti-Semitism, and appropriated the language of free expression as their main weapon.

For example, in the response published by this group, a core section is headlined “The long history of pro-Israel suppression of medical freedom of expression,” with overwrought claims such as “The heavy-handed attempt to force The Lancet to withdraw the “open letter” is the latest in a series of attempts to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.”

Furthermore, two of the pro-Horton group leaders are also co-authors of the Gaza “open letter”—Drs. Iain Chalmers and Mads Gilbert. Chalmers has been caught on tape repeating David Duke-like hate rhetoric, referring to how “Zionists” exert “control in so many different domains,” labelingThe Lancet as one publication “they (Zionists) cannot suppress.” For his part, Gilbert is on record as a 9/11 apologist.

But these facts are erased as Horton and his team use their media connections to advance the attack. On April 24, 2015, the U.K.’s The Independent published a news story that completely sidesteps the ethical issues in the Gaza “Open Letter” and minimizes Manduca’s and Swee Ang’s blatant anti-Semitism. The article quotes unnamed “observers” who view the criticism of The Lancet as no less than “the most serious threat to The Lancet and free speech in academia” in almost 200 years.

While these lapses might merely suggest unprofessional journalism, the author—Jeremy Laurance—has a clear conflict of interest that was not disclosed. His brother is Tony Laurance, CEO of the U.K,-based Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), whose founder is none other than Swee Ang—one of the David Duke supporters and authors of the Gaza letter. MAP also partners with The Lancet in the Lancet Palestinian Health Alliance, a platform for anti-Israel political views under the guise of health advocacy.

As Horton and The Lancet‘s refusals to genuinely address the issue of anti-Semitism, their position as ethical exemplars becomes increasingly tenuous. The contrast between their moral language and immoral actions could not be clearer. This discrepancy tarnishes The Lancet‘s reputation as an academic journal as it demonizes Israel, Israeli academia, and Jews.

Yona Schiffmiller, a researcher for NGO Monitor, holds a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is in the process of receiving an M.A. in International Relations at Hebrew University.

The opinions presented by Algemeiner bloggers are solely theirs and do not represent those of The Algemeiner, its publishers or editors. If you would like to share your views with a blog post on The Algemeiner, please be in touch through our Contact page.

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  • The Lancet’s anti-Israel slant is nothing new. Hasn’t Richard Horton visited Israel recently and slightly reconsidered his position? Shouldn’t that be mentioned?

  • Don Calea

    It is interesting that the Lancet a world renowned medical journal supposed to adhere to evidence based scientific medical science publishing would deviate from its medical mandate to publish such blatant anti-semitic article. Furthermore, if the Lancet wishes to wade into politics I am confused as to why it did not publish an article denouncing the mass rapes in Great Britain of white British girls some as young as eight years old. These mass rapes occurred in Oxfordshire, Bristol, Derby, Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford, and implies that the problem is not isolated, but endemic. These mass rapes were committed by Pakistani Muslim men living in Great Britain. In my view because of the very large number of rapes involved (in the thousands) this would qualify for crimes against humanity. The Lancet also does not write about the widespread practice of female genital mutilation in Great Britain, about forced marriages of young girls and even honour killings. On the afternoon of 22 May 2013 in London in broad daylight two Muslim men used knives and a cleaver to stab and hack British Army soldier, Fusilier Lee Rigby to death. I am wondering whether or not the Lancet publishes these anti-semitic and anti Israel articles to divert the attention away from the above crimes committed at home in Great Britain.

  • YK

    I propose an academic response that spans ALL of Elsevier academic journals (there are many).
    I vow here neither to publish nor to peer-review any article in any of Elsevier publications, until the Lancet retracts its shameful lies.
    Yehuda Kleiner,
    National Research Council of Canada

    • Ellen Warner

      This is a fabulous idea, particularly turning them down for peer review and stating precisely why.