October 2: ‘Lancet’ and Israel

Readers weigh in on the latest issues engulfing the Jewish state.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
‘Lancet’ and Israel
Sir, – The excellent article by Gerald Steinberg (“Richard Horton’s war on Israel,” Comment & Features, September 30) summarizes some of the key issues that need to be addressed in order to begin to accept Horton’s bona fides on his visit as an example of a genuine “listen and learn” episode.
Horton has been in your part of the world often, particularly to visit Birzeit University. It is a pity that he appears to have shown little interest in interacting with Israeli colleagues. For example, there is no obvious evidence from his supplements that he has engaged with the Israeli public health and epidemiology community or seen and absorbed the full spectrum of positive cooperative work.
But there is a more sinister aspect to this. If we accept Horton’s view that politics, society and health are intertwined, then surely it is the responsibility of a medical editor to act as guarantor of balance, to recognize conflict of interest – including his or her own – and to scrutinize the probity and integrity of correspondents.
Horton has failed on all these counts.
A reasonable hypothesis is that he is so blinded by his political prejudices about Israel that he does not recognize anything else. However, this would have to ignore his repeated publication of Dr. Swee Ang’s material, his appearance with her on public platforms, and his failure to take any further action now – where it seems self-evident that her views about Jewish conspiracies must impinge on how she perceives Israel-Palestine affairs. All this adds up to what appears to be willful cooperation with her unacceptable views.
Horton appears to be an active member of a small but very vocal cohort in British medicine that relentlessly focuses on this topic, but always from an anti-Israel stance. For example, in view of these latest disclosures, one has to ask Prof. Sir Iain Chalmers why his conflicts of interest appeared several weeks after publication of the letter by Paola Manduca et al? Will it take him even longer to manage to express his opinions about the NGO Monitor report of Manduca’s and Ang’s links? Has he forgotten that he chaired a meeting in London in 2007 where it was alleged that Israel and the US used Gaza as a testing ground for biological and biochemical warfare? These issues have been brought to the attention of The Lancet’s publisher, Reed Elsevier Group, in the past. It seems they have been willing to act as purveyors of documents emanating from those who go beyond medicine and health in a selective fashion only in relationship to Israeli issues, refusing persistently and perniciously to show any insight into the sinister roots of their ideas.
Against this background it will take a great deal to persuade me that in Israel between September 29 and October 2 Horton will not only listen but also be willing to acknowledge and absorb the possibility that he has been responsible for promoting a one-sided political vantage point that has now been shown to have links directly to anti-Semitic propaganda.
The writer is an emeritus professor of immunopathology at University College London, chair of the Jewish Medical Association UK, and a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews
Sir, – I just found out that the academic publishing company Elsevier publishes The Lancet as well as many other highly technical, medical and scientific journals.
I am writing to suggest that the company’s leaders act to disinfect the gangrene at The Lancet by amputating editor Richard Horton.
Horton continues to poohpooh the recent uproar and has the audacity to insist that his journal has done nothing wrong.
He is unfazed by the fact that one of the authors of the non-medical, anti-Israel letter that caused the outcry is guilty of fund-raising for, and receiving funding from, a terrorist organization designated as such by the governments of three nations (the United States, Canada and Australia) and so described by a BBC investigation.
The organization that funds and is funded by one of The Lancet’s anti-Israel authors stands accused of hiring terrorists in Gaza, publicly applauding Hitler for “putting Jews in their place,” deliberately “planting the love of death in the Islamic nation” and actively encouraging Palestinian children to become suicide bombers.
How can Elsevier possibly employ for one more day an editor who willingly and without remorse has allowed such terrorist ideologies to seed the reading material of the medical profession? J’accuse!
Major blunders
Sir, – Contrary to accepted wisdom, it now seems that the Palestine/ Israel conflict is not the cause of all the wars, killings and massacres in the Middle East after all. This was acknowledged by no less an authority than US President Barack Obama (“Obama chides tribal Middle East in speech to UN General Assembly,” September 28).
A couple of days later Obama admitted that American intelligence had underestimated the military capabilities of Islamic State and overestimated the ability and steadfastness of the US-trained Iraqi army (“Obama says US intelligence underestimated Islamic State,” September 30). You can add to this the failure of the same intelligence agency in not recognizing that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.
We are not talking here of little, insignificant boo boos, but major blunders that have had very serious negative consequences for the entire western world. Heaven help us if we rely on the same agency to gauge the aims and achievements of the Iranian nuclear program.
Not for nothing are Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinmetz repeatedly warning of the duplicity of the Iranians. If only the world would take heed.
Giving a damn
Sir, – Accompanying your article “Jewish campus groups counter anti-Semitism” (September 28) is the photo of a demonstrator demanding a boycott of Israel “not least because apartheid Israel kills babies.”
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the beginning of America’s major involvement in the Vietnam War, Life Magazine published a commemorative issue. It states that “the most conservative estimates are at least 80,000 children under the age of 15” were killed in that war in addition to tens of thousands of children being wounded.
In contrast, the Palestinians claim that 500 children were killed in this summer’s Gaza war.
As a result, Israel has been globally demonized.
Unlike Hamas, which targeted Israeli cities, no Viet Cong fired rockets at American cities. As someone who remembers that war, there were never condemnations of and demonstrations against America because of the staggering death toll of Vietnamese children. Moreover, according to Life, up to 30,000 children were born in Vietnam to American GI fathers and almost all of these fathers abandoned them.
The Vietnam War was not the Second World War, when there was no television to sensitize the masses about atrocities. It also took place in the sixties, the era of hippies, peace and love. Still, no one gave a damn about the kids.
Pride in heritage
Sir, – With regard to “Hap J’lem comes up short in qualifiers against Russian giant” (Sports, September 28), I wish Hapoel Jerusalem a very successful season, but did they really have to play their first game on the eve of Rosh Hashana? I know that most Israelis are secular, but don’t we at least have some pride in our heritage and tradition?