UK medical journal The Lancet has a history of politicizing medicine in the cause of bashing Israel. In 2010, the journal employed active supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as supposedly expert commentators on the situation, which earned it a 2010 Dishonest Reporter Award. Lancet editor Richard Horton even posted a snide response aimed at HonestReporting. A further examination in 2013 revealed more anti-Israel bias.
In August 2014, in the midst of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, The Lancet’s publication of an “open letter for the people in Gaza” came as no surprise. That radical Israel hater and 9/11 conspiracy theorist Mads Gilbert was one of the signatories was enough to signal just how politicized the letter was.
Now, however, The Lancet has published a special issue dedicated to covering health and medical achievements in Israel. The Times of Israel reports:
The issue’s series of articles was conceived in 2014, after the editor in chief of The Lancet, Richard Horton, allowed publication of an open letter that accused Israel of a “massacre” in Gaza. Horton later wrote that he regretted the polarization caused by the publication of the letter, but did not retract it.
At the time Horton said that the journal had proposed new guidelines to deal with “submissions that lie at the difficult intersection of medicine and politics,” and called on editors to “pause, reflect, and consult before publishing any manuscript that might unnecessarily polarize, or foster or worsen political division.”
He also said that the journal would publish a series on Israel’s health and medical research system, after a visit to Israel and Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa in which he was invited to see Jewish-Arab medical cooperation firsthand.
“Our collaboration began in the aftermath of the tragedy of war between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip in 2014. In July 2014, in the very midst of the conflict The Lancet published a letter that divided medical opinion worldwide,” Horton said in a statement announcing the publication of the series on Tuesday. “We have learned lessons from this unfortunate episode. Our collaboration seeks to undo the harm and tarnish of this episode by transforming those experiences into constructive practice.”
This is a welcome development and a testament to the many activists and medical professionals who not only held The Lancet to account but also positively engaged with Richard Horton. Those efforts have clearly paid off.
While it is too early to conclude that The Lancet has been permanently cured of what had been diagnosed as a terminal case of anti-Israel politicization, we certainly hope that the disease is now in remission.