Accused of ‘anti-Israel hate propaganda’, the Lancet medical journal, revered as one of the world’s oldest and most venerable journals, has come under attack from an international group of more than 500 doctors over its coverage of the humanitarian disaster caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The controversy arose after the Lancet, an internationally renowned publication, released an article that was deemed to be deeply critical of Israel’s conduct in Gaza.
The Independent Reports: The Lancet and its editor, Richard Horton, have been targeted over what the group claims is the “grossly irresponsible misuse of [the journal] for political purposes”. The controversy was sparked by an article deemed to be critical of Israel’s conduct in Gaza.
The protesting doctors, including five Nobel laureates as well as Lord Winston, the broadcaster and IVF pioneer, style themselves “concerned academics”, and accuse the journal of publishing “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda”. They also accuse the journal’s owner, the publishing firm Reed Elsevier, of “profiting from the publication of dishonest and malicious material that incites hatred and violence”.
The doctors threatened to boycott the journal if Reed Elsevier does not “enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship”.
Observers say it is the most serious threat to The Lancet and free speech in academia since the journal’s first campaigning editor, Thomas Wakley, faced a series of lawsuits after attacking the incompetence, nepotism and greed of the medical elite shortly after it was founded 192 years ago.
Horton, who has edited The Lancet since the mid-1990s, has built it into a widely admired beacon for global health. But his uncompromising approach has made him enemies, especially among those who see him as a supporter of the Palestinian cause. He established a Lancet-Palestine Alliance with academics in the West Bank, to improve coverage of health issues in the region.
The trigger for the assault on his editorship was an article published last July during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, which included eyewitness accounts of the medical impact on civilians but, controversially, did not include an acknowledgement of Hamas’s role in the war.
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