Physician, Heal Thyself
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After the publication in The Lancet of a mendacious “Open Letter for the People of Gaza,” Richard Horton, editor in chief of the prestigious British medical journal, visited Israel where he was hosted by Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center.
The letter, published at the height of this summer’s conflict with Hamas, triggered a storm in the medical community and in Israel, with its blanket indictment of Israeli doctors coupled with wholesale allegations of a “ruthless assault” and “massacre” carried out by the Israeli army.
When NGO Monitor uncovered emails from two of the main authors – Dr. Paola Manduca and Dr. Swee Ang – enthusiastically promoting an anti-Semitic video by American neo-Nazi David Duke, the controversy expanded. The major media coverage in the UK was significant and Prof. Horton could no longer ignore the criticism.
So, when Horton addressed an assembly of hundreds of Israeli doctors at Rambam in early October, there was much anticipation.
When addressing the promotion of the David Duke video by two of the Gaza letter’s authors he spoke well. He was “personally horrified” by the video and its “abhorrent” worldview, it “must be condemned and I condemn it” and he made that view “very clear directly to those two individuals.”
Yet, despite acknowledging its toxic origins, he said nothing about retracting the letter. Nor did he commit to barring Manduca and Ang from publishing in The Lancet. He was also silent about another of the letter’s authors who has appeared in The Lancet frequently: Dr. Mads Gilbert, who is on record as approving the 9/11 attacks on America.
Horton has but one moral option – to remove the stain these doctors of hate have brought on The Lancet. To do so, he must apologize, retract their Gaza letter (and all their other articles), and decouple The Lancet institutionally from groups associated with them, like MAP. Anything less would be tantamount to moral medical malpractice that will blemish The Lancet for decades.