The prestigious medical journal The Lancet has come under fire for politicizing its pages with anti-Israel comment, according to media watchdog Honest Reporting.
In a written protest to the UK-based publication, some 500 doctors, including a number of Nobel laureates, charged “grossly irresponsible and damaging editorial misuse of The Lancet for political purposes” in its coverage of last summer’s military operations in Gaza.
The group, called Concerned Academics, protested an “open letter” published during last summer’s Gaza war that accused Israel of “military onslaught on civilians in Gaza under the guise of punishing terrorists.” The letter omitted any mention of Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.
The academics demand that editor Richard Horton and publisher Reed Elsevier “comprehensively retract the article and formally apologize for their grave breach of editorial ethics.” The Lancet has thus far refused to retract.
The issue has reverberated in the British media. The Independent branded the statement by Concerned Academics a threat to free speech: “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.”
HonestReporting managing editor Simon Plosker rejected The Independent’s argument: “Claiming that freedom of speech is under threat is a smokescreen to hide the real issue. The Lancet’s anti-Israel agenda has been exposed and challenged and it appears that the medical journal has no legitimate answers.
“Retracting a vicious and inflammatory anti-Israel letter is not an assault on freedom of speech — it is simply the right thing to do and the only action that can restore any ounce of credibility to The Lancet.”