The Lancet is one of the most prestigious medical journals in Britain and the world, but has also been a major source of immoral demonization and political warfare against Israel. Under Dr. Richard Horton, editor since 1995, it has published numerous pseudo-scientific articles falsely accusing Israel of war crimes, including causing birth defects among Palestinians.
At no time did Horton do the necessary due diligence required of an editor. He did not question the standard statements by the authors of the Gaza letter claiming that they had no conflicts of interest, although a number are active in anti-Israel NGOs that exploit medicine for propaganda.
During his week of meetings in Israel and a subsequent editorial in the Lancet, Horton refused to engage on this history and his responsibility for the immoral and hate-filled anti-Israel campaigns. He acknowledged the obvious – that the Gaza letter “does not describe the full reality,” expressed regret at the “unnecessary polarization,” and referred to the anti-Semitic video as “abhorrent.”
Skeptics see this as a temporary effort to avoid a major investigation, while Horton’s Israeli hosts hope for a genuine, if partial, atonement. Perhaps Horton’s role in the unethical war against Israel does not reflect inherent anti-Semitism, but rather overriding ambition and the influence of his social and intellectual milieu.
Regardless, the pressure must continue until Horton, the Lancet, and Elsevier (the publisher) issue clear apologies, retract the hate-filled articles that were never worthy of publication, and create mechanisms to prevent a recurrence.
More broadly, in fighting the unethical demonization of Israel and the new anti-Semitism, this case demonstrates the importance of naming and shaming the perpetrators. By exposing the role of the Lancet in this unethical behaviour, we have shown that success is possible.