Lancet Editor's Apology 'Lacks Substance'

Horton's response failed to acknowledge responsibility, or even retract and remove anti-Israel Gaza open letter by anti-Semitic doctors.

Ari Yashar ,

Richard Horton
Richard Horton
Pyotr Fliter

Dr. Richard Horton, editor of the medical journal The Lancet promised while visiting Rambam Hospital in Haifa last week to issue an apology for the anti-Semitic flap his journal raised recently - on Friday he delivered with the response.

In July Horton published an anti-Israel "Open Letter for the People in Gaza"; two of the primary authors of the article - Dr. Swee Ang Chai and Dr. Paola Manduca - two weeks ago were discovered to have promoted an anti-Semitic video by white supremacist David Duke.

NGO Monitor last Friday responded to Horton's published apology for the article, assessing that while his announced creation of a "new partnership to publish a Series on Israel's health and medical research system" will be "significant," Horton failed to acknowledge his own responsibility in the recent flap.

"What he refers to as the 'Manduca et al letter' consisted of political slogans, blatantly false allegations against Israel and the Israeli medical community, as well as the whitewashing of 4,560 rocket attacks from Gaza targeting Israeli civilians - every one a war crime," said NGO Monitor.

The group continued "it is clear that this letter should never been published. While these issues were raised many times during his visit to Israel, Horton's editorial makes no reference to them," and indeed "lacks substance."

Horton did write that the two doctor's distributed a "vile and offensive video" by David Duke, but did not retract the letter or say the authors would not be allowed to publish in the future, notes the organization; instead he merely said the letter caused "polarization."

NGO Monitor argued Horton has "a moral and professional obligation to also acknowledge (his) central role in the tendentious activities of the politicized Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance. This framework gives a central role to Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), an NGO co-founded by Swee Ang, one of the promoters of the anti-Semitic Duke video and a co-author of the Gaza letter."

The group called on Horton to "issue a formal and unequivocal retraction and apology to be published prominently both on the website and hard copy issue of The Lancet." It likewise called for the Gaza letter to be removed immediately, and for the establishment of professional review processes on articles dealing with complex political issues.

Finally, it called for articles published on Israel since January 1, 2001 to be reviewed to see which fail to meet scientific standards and issue retractions as appropriate.

Under Horton, The Lancet has become a platform for intense political propaganda, particularly targeting Israel. The "Open Letter" was not the first such article published under the facade of scientific rigor.

Dr. Mads Gilbert, another primary author of the "Open Letter" who frequently appears in The Lancet, has made comments justifying the September 11, 2001 attacks.

In addition, The Lancet published an article by Dr. Swee Ang in February of 2009 titled "The Wounds of Gaza," replete with factual errors and defamatory accusations against Israel, such as "deliberate targeting of unarmed children." It was only taken down after 28 days.



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