Tuesday, September 23, 2014
LANCET 'HIJACKED IN ANTI-ISRAEL CAMPAIGN'
Senior British medical figures say the well-respected journal is being used as a platform by alleged conspiracy theorists David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klansman
Two of the authors of the open letter, Dr Paola Manduca and Dr Swee Ang, have sympathies with the views of David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard.
For almost 200 years, it has been regarded as a well-respected medical journal. But according to senior British medical figures, the Lancet is being hijacked to campaign indefatigably against Israel, and used as a platform by alleged conspiracy theorists.
In August, it published a controversial “open letter for the people of Gaza” that condemned Israel in the strongest possible terms, but strikingly made no mention of Hamas’ atrocities.
The five principal authors of the letter made it clear that they had “no competing interests”. However, all of them have campaigned vociferously for the Palestinian cause over many years.
Dr Swee Ang is an orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr Manduca, a professor of genetics at the University of Genoa in Italy – who are both members of pro-Palestine NGOs.
In another email, Dr Manduca forwarded a message alleging that the Boston marathon bombings were in fact carried out by Jews. “Let us hope that someone in the FBI is smart enough to look more carefully at the clues in Boston and find the real culprits behind these bombings instead of buying the Zionist spin”, it said.
Elsewhere, she shared an article comparing the Jewish state to a “strangler fig”, which grows around other trees and takes their sunlight, often resulting in the death of the original trees.
In response to questions by the Daily Telegraph, Dr Manduca issued a statement in which she denied being anti-Semitic. “But I legitimately use my right of freedom of opinion,” she said, “and do not agree or value the politics of the government of Israel, nor of many others, including Jews in and out of Israel.”
For her part, Dr Ang said: “I didn’t know who David Duke was, or that he was connected to the Ku Klux Klan. I am concerned that if there is any truth that Jews control the media, politics and banking, what on earth is going on? I was worried.” She said that she was made aware of Duke’s conspiracy theories by a friend, Dr Kamal Alubaid, who appears to have been active on 9/11 "truth" websites. In one post, he referred to the Jewish State as "Racist Apparthide (sic) Israel".
Moreover, Dr Mads Gilbert, a third author of the letter, gave an interview with the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet in 2001 in which he said that the 9/11 atrocities were as a result of Western foreign policy, and that he supported terror attacks in that “context”.
Israeli campaigners brought this information to the attention of the Lancet in a letter sent on 1 September. However, the journal has refused to issue a response and has not removed the open letter from its website – through which it collected 20,000 signatures in support of the letter.
“It's utterly irrelevant. It's a smear campaign,” the editor of the Lancet, Dr Richard Horton, told the Daily Telegraph. “I don’t honestly see what all this has to do with the Gaza letter. I have no plans to retract the letter, and I would not retract the letter even if it was found to be substantiated.”
Dr Horton, who has in the past spoken at rallies organised by Stop The War Coalition, denied that the journal's reputation would be damaged by giving a platform to people who appear to hold such views, and said that the Lancet is not intending to investigate the allegations. According to its critics, the current episode is just the latest example of anti-Israel prejudice that the Lancet’s editors have encouraged.
“For many years, the Lancet has been consistently using its reputation to attack Israel,” says Professor David Katz, an expert in infection and immunity at University College London. The Lancet is supposed to be a politically neutral medical journal.
The fact that they have given proven anti-Semites a platform and not rescinded it, even when confronted with the evidence, is appalling. They have allowed their hatred of Israel to blind them to the norms of medical science and the pursuit of reason.”
NGO Monitor, an Israeli watchdog, points out that over the past 15 years, the journal has formed a number of partnerships with Palestinian groups, including the Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance, Medical Aid for Palestinians and the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. By contrast, there have been no comparable collaborations with Israeli groups. Professor Katz and a number of other senior medical figures have written to the medical ombudsman to register their complaints.
On 29 August, Professor Sir Mark Pepys, director of the Wolfson Drug Discovery Unit at UCL, wrote: “The failure of the Menduca et al authors to disclose their extraordinary conflicts of interest… are the most serious, unprofessional and unethical errors. The transparent effort to conceal this vicious and substantially mendacious partisan political diatribe as an innocent humanitarian appeal has no place in any serious publication, let alone a professional medical journal, and would disgrace even the lowest of the gutter press.”
He accuses Dr Horton, the Lancet editor, personally: “Horton’s behaviour in this case is consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views,” he says. “It has greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.”