Dr. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of The Lancet medical journal, is in Israel launching a partnership with some prominent Israeli physicians toward the publishing of a series on Israel’s medical system. This could be an important first step toward healing the longstanding friction between The Lancet and the Israeli medical community that was exacerbated when The Lancet published the mendacious “Open Letter for the People of Gaza” during last summer’s conflict with Hamas.
This letter also has a serious “Jewish problem.” NGO Monitor researchers uncovered emails from two of the main authors – Drs. Paola Manduca and Swee Ang Chai – enthusiastically promoting an antisemitic video by American white supremacist David Duke, which purportedly “reveals how the Zionist matrix of power controls media, politics and banking.”
As a scientific medical journal, The Lancet is in a unique position to play a constructive and positive role not only in improving the healthcare of Palestinians, but also contributing to the prospects of peace by building bridges between the Israeli and Palestinian medical communities. By taking such a highly politicized and one-sided course in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Lancet, under Richard Horton’s tutelage, has instead contributed to polarization and conflict.
The partnership being built by Horton and his Israeli colleagues may remedy this travesty, but only if the following steps are taken. First, reform the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance by de-politicizing its content and by disassociating The Lancet from Swee Ang’s Medical Aid for Palestinians. Second, Horton should apologize for, retract, and publicly remove the tainted “Open Letter for the People in Gaza” from The Lancet’s website, and personally apologize for and retract his own hostile comments against Israel.
These steps would signal a real change in Horton’s attitude and would signal a tangible change in attitude by The Lancet and its publisher, Reed Elsevier. Anything less would just be window dressing, covering an ethical stain that will long define The Lancet’s legacy and Reed Elsevier’s corporate image.