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Israel advocates get little space to respond to epistle in ‘The Lancet’
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
07/31/2014
“Open letter for the people in Gaza” aroused a wave of protest among advocates of Israel.
 
The British journal The Lancet has published online and in its print edition a nearly 1,600-word “letter” attacking Israel over the war against Hamas.

The Lancet is a London-based, weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal, established in 1823 by an English surgeon and today owned by the Elsevier publishing house. Its name, “lancet,” refers to a surgical instrument and to a type of window to indicate the “light of wisdom” or “to let in light.”

The “Open letter for the people in Gaza” that aroused a wave of protest among advocates of Israeli was written by Drs. Paola Manduca, Iain Chalmers, Derek Summerfield, Mads Gilbert and Swee Ang “on behalf of 24 signatories.

“On the basis of our ethics and practice, we are denouncing what we witness in the aggression of Gaza by Israel. We ask our colleagues, old and young professionals, to denounce this Israeli aggression. 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,” the letter goes.

“We wish to report the facts as we see them and their implications on the lives of the people. We are appalled by the military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists... Anyone older than 6 years has already lived through their third military assault by Israel...

“We denounce the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children's well-being. Israel’s [behavior] has insulted our humanity, intelligence, and dignity as well as our professional ethics and efforts. Even those of us who want to go and help are unable to reach Gaza due to the blockade,” the anti-Israel letter went on.

It was published with the journal’s invitation to “support the letter. If you would like to join the signatories to this letter, then please submit your name and email address using the form below. Your name will appear in the list of signatories. Please note that your email address will be kept confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.” The journal later noted that “we have reached 20,000 signatures and are no longer collecting names.”

The Lancet published online only two, very short, responses by people who opposed the article.

Dr. Bruce M. Marmor, a veteran internal medicine specialist in Syracuse, New York, said it was “purely political, inaccurate and prejudiced. If this group of doctors and scientists is so concerned about the civilians in Gaza, where is the sympathy for the civilians who are being killed in Syria, the Christians who were murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or who were forced to flee their homes in Mosul, Iraq, or the victims of Boko Haram in Nigeria? And where is the sympathy for the Israeli citizens who live under constant rocket attacks and invasions through tunnels that extend under kindergartens and people's homes by Hamas, whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews? Have any of the signatories to this letter read the Hamas Charter? They should.

“The editors of The Lancet, which is supposed to be a medical journal, should have [recognized] the letter for what it is -- a gross example of anti-Jewish bigotry, pure and simple. Publishing such a letter, and soliciting additional signatures online, destroys your credibility as an objective scientific journal,” Marmor wrote.

Nathan Stall and others on behalf of 1,234 Canadian physicians wrote ironically that they were “concerned with an apparent oversight in the process leading to the publication of this open letter.

“Some of its leading authors have important conflicts of interest that are not consistent with their declaration of no competing interests. Swee Ang is founding trustee of Medical Aid for Palestinians and Mads Gilbert is a representative of the pro-Palestinian Norwegian Aid Committee, both organizations are hostile to Israel... The authors' participation in highly political nongovernmental [organizations] dependent on fund-raising constitutes both an ideological and financial conflict of interest requiring disclosure.”

The British journal has not published a long letter submitted early this week by Dr. Leonid Eidelman, chairman of the Israel Medical Association, and Health Ministry director-general Prof. Arnon Afek.

They said the original letter was “a political manifesto without any medical connection that has found its way to a prestigious academic medical journal... The only credible point in the letter was the fact that the people in Gaza are suffering.

“Despite the authors’ attempt to paint Hamas as a peace-loving organization, they are a vicious terrorist organization committed to the destruction of Israel and with no regard for the lives of their own citizens. The Hamas government has put billions of dollars into constructing tunnels intended for terrorist attacks and purchasing rockets, instead of building infrastructure for the prosperity of Gazan citizens. The Israeli military entered Gaza this month only after it was left no choice and could no longer exercise restraint, faced as it was with hundreds of missiles shot into its territory. It is well known that Hamas shoots from homes, schools and hospitals and encourages its population not to evacuate in order to better serve their propaganda interests and uses women and children as human shields,” the two Israeli physicians wrote.
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