Political advocacy NGOs that claim a medical mandate, as well as affiliated individuals, are extremely active in publicly and falsely condemning Israel, contributing to the international delegitimization campaign.
These NGOs and activists: 1) demonize Israel and use hate speech under the guise of medical expertise and scientific fact; 2) deny Israel’s obligation to defend its citizens; 3) present political analysis, legal declarations, and speculations regarding Israel’s military operations and weaponry, far beyond the scope of any medical expertise they might possess; and 4) promote distorted and false narratives.
Often, these entirely political claims and biases are amplified in medical journals. For example, under Richard Horton’s editorship, The Lancet has become a platform for intense political propaganda, particularly targeting Israel. During the 2014 Gaza War, The Lancet medical journal published “An Open Letter for the People of Gaza” (July 23, 2014), making numerous unsubstantiated allegations, accusing Israel of “war crimes” and “massacres,” utilizing illegal weaponry to deliberately kill civilians, and engaging in a “military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists.” Like many NGO allegations, the letter denies Israel’s right to self-defense and fails to mention Hamas rocket fire and terror tunnels from Gaza into Israeli territory.
(According to NGO Monitor research, two of the main authors of The Lancet letter also promoted a video made by American white supremacist David Duke, “CNN Goldman Sachs & the Zio Matrix.”)
Furthermore, medical NGOs often initiate biased and unreliable “fact-finding missions” to Gaza, accusing Israel of committing war crimes and violations of international law. Often, the results of these missions are determined in advance, and are solely aimed at contributing to Israel’s demonization and delegitimization within the international arena.
After a strong public response, Horton visited the Rambam Hospital in Israel where he spoke to a gathering of Israeli physicians. He “deeply, deeply regret the completely unnecessary polarization that publication of the letter” caused. While he did strongly condemn the author’s promotion of the Duke video, he nonetheless refused to apologize for publishing the letter.
In May 2017, a special issue of The Lancet was published about health in Israel. Horton wrote that they “wanted to turn the unfortunate episode into a constructive and positive lever that will lead to recognition of Israel’s advantages for global health.” In addition, Horton criticized BDS campaigns, stating that “Boycotting academics and Israeli professionals, as led by the BDS movement, is inefficient and will never be effective in helping shape public and political opinion that will promote a solution, on the contrary, it will harm these goals.”
World Health Assembly
On May 25, 2016, the delegates of the 69th World Health Assembly (held under the auspices of the World Health Organization) in Geneva adopted a decision condemning Israel. Out of 24 items on the meeting’s agenda, only Item 19 focused on political issues – specifically on “Health conditions in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, and in the occupied Syrian Golan.” To read NGO Monitor’s analysis of the resolution, click here.