Op-Ed: The Lancet Affair
Prof. Phyllis CheslerThe writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient...
MY FIRST LANCET ARTICLE
The once premier British medical journal The Lancet has, once again, engaged in an outrageous Blood Libel against Israel—and it has mightily resisted publishing letters of rebuttal. Rather, it has published some, but slowly, very slowly. For example, it took them sixteen days before they published a letter of rebuttal written by the President of the Israeli Medical Association.
Here’s what happened.
In an article titled "An Open Letter for the People of Gaza," the violence between the terrorist group Hamas and the Israeli Defense Forces is presented in highly biased, inaccurate, and defamatory ways. It was authored by Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert, and Swee Ang "on behalf of 24 signatories."
This is very Nazi-era like only it is far worse since there is now a growing, global tsunami against the Jews unleashed both online and in the world.
I am reminded of how swiftly German Christian physicians took over all the German Psycho-analytic Societies which were formerly headed by Jewish doctors--and of course, I remember Dr. Robert Jay Lifton's work on the Nazi doctors. Simply because someone has an advanced degree of some kind or has won a Nobel Prize in no way inoculates them from the most vulgar common prejudices.
The 2014 Lancet authors (Manduca et al) write of Israel-perpetrated "massacres" and are "tempted to conclude" that "95%" of Israeli academics "are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza." Manduca et al write:
“We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called "defensive aggression." In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity… We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists… People in Gaza are resisting this aggression because they want a better and normal life and, even while crying in sorrow, pain, and terror, they reject a temporary truce that does not provide a real chance for a better future. A voice under the attacks in Gaza is that of Um Al Ramlawi who speaks for all in Gaza: "They are killing us all anyway—either a slow death by the siege, or a fast one by military attacks. We have nothing left to lose—we must fight for our rights, or die trying.”
These Lancet authors do not mention the vast network of terror tunnels, purposely dug beneath schools, mosques, hospitals, and private homes; no mention of Hamas's cold and ruthless decision to use their own people as human shields for propaganda purposes; not a word about the thousands of rockets that have rained down mainly on southern Israel for so many years. There is no analysis of the hate propaganda indoctrination against Jews and Israel that every Palestinian child receives and the glorification and payment to the family of "martyred" human bombs, nor scarcely a thought about how much money was siphoned off by Hamas leaders for luxury lives, Swiss and Emirati bank accounts, and above all, for the purchase of weapons and the building of a veritable underground city of cement-walled tunnels in which weapons and fighters are housed.**
In addition, as Dr. Richard Cravatts, President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, and Dr. David Feifel, have noted, the Lancet authors do not come with "clean hands." They have failed to disclose their financial and intellectual links to terrorism. According to Dr. Feifel:
“For one example, the letter's first author, Paolo Manduca received funding from several anti-Israel NGOs including Interpal, which has been designated as a terrorist entity by the governments of the United States, Canada and Australia. US Federal authorities describe the organization as a global clearinghouse channeling money to Hamas and a BBC investigation came to the same conclusion. Interpal is a founding member of the so-called 'Union of Good,' an umbrella organization, which funds Islamic terrorists in Gaza. Its leader, Yussef al- Qaradawi, is a notorious jihadist who has publically lauded Hitler for 'putting Jews in their place' and has said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: 'We must plant the love of death and the love of martyrdom in the Islamic nation.' The organization actively encourages Palestinian children to become martyrs and suicide bombers.
"Manduca not only receives funding from Interpal but also raises money for it . Is it any wonder, therefore, that Manduca is a signatory to the 'Appeal for the removal of Hamas from the EU terror list' and that her co-author, Mads Gilbert, is on record for supporting terror attacks against civilians including the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center which took the lives of nearly 3000 innocent civilians? These revelations totally belie the authors' description of themselves as merely 'doctors and scientists, who spend our lives developing means to care and protect health and lives.' At least some of them are, in fact, doctors and scientists who have intellectual and financial links to terrorist entities with genocidal agendas. In violating Lancet's published Declaration of Interests policy, Manduca et al, deprived Lancet readers of crucial contextual information with which to judge their polemical correspondence.”
This is not the first time that The Lancet has engaged in Blood Libels.
In 2010, The Lancet published a scurrilous pseudo-scientific attack upon Israel, which claimed that an increase in wife-beating "in the occupied territories" was due to the stress of "occupation."
At the time, I helped some Israeli academics and physicians place their letters of protest in The Lancet and I also published a letter in their pages. The 2010 article was an intellectual joke—but there was nothing funny about it.
The authors did not look at the normalized wife- and daughter-beating in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia or in any other Muslim Arab country which was not allegedly "occupied" by Israel. Nor did they note the normalized honor killing of girls and women in the region. They did not compare "intimate partner violence" in unoccupied Gaza with "intimate partner violence" in Sderot, Israel, where "civilians have endured 8,000 rocket attacks from Gaza." This so-called study did not note the increase in violence against women due to Hamas's fundamentalist misogyny.
Elsewhere, I wrote about the entire episode as an example of how "Big Lies now pass for top-of-the-line academic, scientific work."
Still, The Lancet published my letter and those of Israeli academics. They are slower to do so now. This time, they are in no mood for genuinely scientific or academic rejoinders.
This is outrageous and heartbreaking.
(**It also does not mention that there was no sea blockade until Hamas took advantage of the open port to bring weapons and missiles into Gaza and that Israel provides Gaza with hundreds of trucks filled with supplies daily, while Gaza's shops, luxury hotels and beautiful beaches serve wealthy Gazans whose lifestyle stands in stark contrast to the rest of the population, ed.)
The Lancet finally caved and did the right thing. Well—almost, but not quite. Between July 28th and August 14th, they only published a handful of rebuttal letters—and many more in support of their Big Lie anti-Israel “Open Letter.” The editorial staff of The Lancet also published an editorial which, in essence, justifies its having published extraordinary lies as if they were scientifically accurate.
For example, only after a tedious and protracted back-and-forth did they publish a letter online, written by two Americans, Jeremy M. Levin and Ron Cohen, which critiqued the pseudo-scientific piece which attacked Israel and amounted to a series of Blood Libels against the Jewish state. The Lancet also published a much shortened version of another Israeli physician’s article, Dr. Tamir Wolf, here.
I am glad to see the Levin-Cohen letter online at The Lancet. I am saddened by how many other good letters, written by Israeli doctors who are on site, were either rejected or shortened. The Lancet did not publish an important letter written by the President of the Israeli Medical Association until August 13, 2014—or sixteen days after their toxic mold had time to sprout.
As a psychologist, I must first note that first impressions usually last, that corrections or rebuttals do not carry the same weight. Levin-Cohen are second, second to Manduca’s Big Lies. In fact, the Lancet itself lists Manduca’s article as their “most often read” piece.
Further, the fact that Levin had to fight so hard to be heard is not heartening.
Finally, the fact that the editor on the Manduca piece, Richard Horton, has ties to anti-Israel groups is completely outrageous and unacceptable. Levin wrote the following letter to his friends and associates and has said it can be shared:
“As you may know few days ago the Lancet, one of Britain’s oldest and most prestigious journals of medicine and medical research published a scurrilous and completely hate filled letter directed at physicians and researchers with the intent to sway them to the side of Hamas - and more broadly, radical Palestinians…. But without a doubt a letter full of lies and innuendo. It is very much a letter which the communications teams of Goebbels and Stalin would have been proud of drafting and sending out…
"In addition, the original letter was simply outrageous in that not only was it published in a supposedly unbiased and completely neutral Medical Journal, but also in that is was full of factual inaccuracies, reflects politically motivation and promoted widely by Reed Elsevier and Lancet - and further defended vigorously by the editor, Richard Horton who is a doctor with many associations with anti-Israel organisations - none of which were disclosed as he agreed to print the original letter. Clearly an unacceptable and manipulative use of a journal of science and medicine to promote a political agenda. This fact reflects the tremendous penetration that the anti-Israel forces have gained in some of the highest echelons of business, media and indeed increasingly the policy makers in Europe.
"I attach for you my response that was just published in the Lancet, after a protracted dialogue with the editors who were very reluctant to publish anything initially. There are great responses also from authors in Israel."
The Levin-Cohen letter is careful to note that the authors “are deeply saddened by the death, destruction, and psychological and physical harm being wrought on innocent people in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel.”
Yes—but Hamas started this war and their aim is to finish it by finishing off the Jews. And, tragically, the “innocent” people have not yet rejected or overthrown their leaders or their way of thinking. Even after it is more than clear that Hamas’s stated goal was to have as many of their own civilian casualties as possible by firing on Israeli civilians from residential buildings, mosques, schools, ambulances, and hospitals. The IDF has now captured a Hamas handbook which describes the “advantages” of using human shields. Sadly, Hamas is right—at least to the extent to which the world media and leaders blame Israel, not Hamas, for the “disproportionate” Gazan body count and to the extent to which Hamas fighters are counted as “civilian” casualties.
According to my friend and colleague, Dr. Anat Berko, had Israel really wanted to kill civilians there would be many more thousands dead.
The majority of the Gazan civilians are not women and children but men of fighting age and perhaps people who might have died normally at this time. Hamas and its Western media enablers rarely make these distinctions.
In any event, I welcome the Levin-Cohen letter which goes on to rebut each and every “falsehood” and all the “inaccuracies” that Manduca et al made. They note that Israel did not target civilians but rather “a terrorist force, Hamas, which rained rockets down indiscriminately on Israel’s civilian population, actions that the European Union Council called ‘criminal and unjustifiable acts.’”
Levin-Cohen also note Manduca’s failure to mention “Hamas’s callous strategy of using human shields;” the fact that Israel “warns civilians to evacuate but that Hamas does not allow them to do so; and the existence of the terror tunnel networks. Further, Israel does not prevent drugs and medicine from reaching Gaza—the Palestinian Authority has failed to pay what it owes to pharmaceutical companies and instead, diverted “billions of dollars (for) the building of tunnels and the purchase of rockets and other weaponry. Why did they not buy medicine for the sick?”
Levin-Cohen end by writing that “murderers cannot be deterred by appeasement. Let us focus on how to help the Gazans rid themselves of a malevolent leadership.”
The censorship of the truth and the presentation of highly biased articles are acting as a strong incitement to hate and possibly even genocide. But the Lancet is not alone in such censorship. I have been contacted by several journalists who also tried to report on the Manduca piece inThe Lancet but were rejected at their usual (liberal-left) websites. I am waiting for one such journalist to allow me to break this story. I have suggested that she be the one to do so. The decided against doing so.
We live at a moment in history when heroism is our only alternative. I wish people really understood that.
The articles appeared on Breitbart.com.
Suggested reading: The Israel-Arab Conflict ( response to Lancet by a group of physicians and scientists, one of whom is Muslim)