Sunday, 26 April 2015

Miliband’s Labour Seeks the Safety of Consensus Politics

Labour Says Yes to Austerity & Cuts – But They’ll Be Nice Cuts than the Tories

In last week’s Brighton Independent I had an article which suggested that Miliband was determined to lose.  Of course he’d like to win but he refuses to break from the consensus behind austerity.  Instead of boldly saying that austerity is the road to ruin and Labour is going to reverse the welfare cuts, tax the rich at 80%, reverse major privatisations and pay no compensation bar the price which was paid (minus  profits taken), Miliband tries to present himself as the safe alternative to the Tories.
Labour is going to face a wipe-out in its Scottish bastion because they are perceived as the ‘red Tories’.  Running a No to Independence campaign with the Tories has backfired on them spectacularly.  Labour in Scotland has been a by-word in corruption and nepotism.  It’s not as if the Scottish National Party is a particularly radical party.  It has failed to even use the power to increase income tax by 3p and has instituted its own cuts programme.  It has failed to increase spending on the NHS in Scotland but compared to Labour it is seen as a radical, socialist alternative.
Miliband - desperately seeking cover
The Tories are, of course, attacking Miliband because he is going to need their support to become Prime Minister.  Instead of fighting back and saying that the SNP have every right to have a say in the government of Britain (after all, isn’t that what the union with Scotland is about?) he has run for cover.  Even some Tories like Lord Forsyth and Malcolm Rifkind have been bolder.
Nicola Sturgeon of SNP - set the cat among Labour's pigeons
Miliband’s latest pledge is a milk and water scheme to have 3 year secure tenancies and rents rising by no more than inflation.  But although any reform would be welcome, this is puny and pathetic.  We used to have permanent security of tenure for people in furnished tenancies.  People were what they call sitting tenants.  There used to be full rent control.  That is the system we should go back to and taking a leaf out of the Tories book, Labour could propose the right to buy for private tenants and see what the Tory reaction to that is!  Taking housing out of the market and treating it in the same way as health.  Adopting a socialist policy that housing is a basic need and should not be subject to the market and speculation is what is needed, not tampering at the edges.

Bennett (Green), Clegg (opportunist LD), Farage (racist UKIP), Miliband, Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) Cameron (Tory sell your grandmother party!)
My prediction?  The Tories will be the largest party.  Labour plus the SNP should be within spitting distance of the magical 324 need for an overall majority.  Hopefully the Lib-Dems, the most disgusting and unprincipled party of all will suffer heavy losses.  UKIP is unlikely to gain more than 2-3 seats and the Greens will keep their one seat.  Who forms a government?  Miliband might unless he proves particularly stupid.


Tony Greenstein

John Humphries and the Bias of Today

Israeli lies go unchallenged on BBC’s flagshipcurrent affairs show

Amena Saleem 


A BBC correspondent displayed a fawning attitude towards Shimon Peres while Israel was attacking Gaza last year. (World Economic Forum/Flickr)
In March, the BBC’s flagship news program Today broadcast an interview with Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defense minister.
John Humphries - Today's Zionist Interrogator-in-chief
Yaalon was given free rein to disseminate lies and propaganda with not a single interruption or challenge from Today presenter, Sarah Montague.

In response, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and many individuals complained to the BBC about the substandard level of interviewing. The replies received from the BBC have revealed the extent to which the organization is prepared to make a fool of itself in order to justify and protect its soft interviews with Israeli spokespeople.
A view of Today at work
Many had complained that Yaalon was allowed to deny the occupation and the siege on Gaza, and had falsely claimed the Palestinians have “political independence” with Israel not wanting to “govern them whatsoever” — and had done so without any challenging interventions from Montague.

In fact, as Yaalon told lie after lie, there was absolute silence from Montague as the minutes ticked on, with not a sound to indicate she was still present.
Despite a reputation among politicians as a fierce interrogator, Humphries goes soft on Mark Regev
The BBC complaints department sent this collective response to those who contacted it about the broadcast: “Please note that it’s always going to be difficult in a live environment against time constraints to challenge each and every comment made, given the amount of other questions and points to cover.”

A quick look at some of Today’s interviews with Palestinian spokespeople is enough to demonstrate just how ludicrous this statement from the BBC is.

And a comparison with Today’s interviews with Israelis during the same time period is sufficient to reveal the unswerving nature of the BBC’s pro-Israeli, anti-Palestinian bias.

Patronising and aggressive

Take, for example, interviews conducted by Today during July and August 2014.
On 3 July, with the occupied West Bank almost totally shut down by Israel following the disappearance of three Israeli teenagers, Today presenter John Humphrys interviewed Abdullah Abdullah, chairperson of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s political committee.

Humphrys ignored the alleged difficulties of a live environment and time constraints and instead challenged “each and every comment” made by Abdullah, to the extent that the senior Palestinian politician was effectively denied the opportunity to comment at all.

This is part of the interview:

Humphrys: “What I’m trying to do is ask you where we go from here.”

Abdullah: “From here? This racist Israel is exposing itself once more…”

Humphrys [interrupting]: “Can you just cut the rhetoric for a moment and try and deal with the practicalities?”

Abdullah: “This is a government of gangsters. It’s got to be exposed…”

Humphrys [interrupting]: “A bit less rhetoric perhaps and a bit more thought to what is actually going to take place in the Middle East.”

Abdullah: “This is the lack of resolution in the international community…”

Humphrys [interrupting]: “To do what?”

Abdullah: “Israel has been created by your country some 66 years ago…”

Humphrys [interrupting]: “Can we talk about now instead of fifty years ago? That’s what I’m trying to do, talk about what should happen now.”

Abdullah: “If we go to the root cause of it, we would be able to solve everything…”

Humphrys [interrupting]: “We’ve been going to the root cause of it for fifty years. It hasn’t got anywhere has it?”

The interview continues in the same vein for another thirty seconds, with a patronising, aggressive Humphrys continually interrupting and refusing to allow Abdullah the time to complete any of the observations he is trying to make.

At one point, he even puts words into Abdullah’s mouth, saying: “If you’re saying this morning that nothing can move forward until Israel is destroyed, well, at least we know what your position is.”
Abdullah has said nothing of the sort and, when he attempts to make his position clear — “What I say is that Israel…has to be held accountable for its violations of international law” — he is interrupted again by the BBC presenter.

Compare this aggression to Montague’s passive encounter with Yaalon, where the Israeli minister decides what he’s going to say and says it uninterrupted, and at no point is asked to “cut the rhetoric” — despite referring to Gaza as “Hamastan.”

Easy ride for Israel

Immediately after Humphrys spoke to Abdullah on 3 July, he interviewed the Israeli government spokesperson, Mark Regev — Palestinians aren’t interviewed by Today without an Israeli to counter them. The same isn’t true in reverse, and Israelis are continuously interviewed — as Yaalon was — with no Palestinian present to give an alternative viewpoint.

Regev was given his customary easy ride on the BBC. Humphrys was polite and non-challenging, and allowed the Israeli to blame Hamas for all the violence that takes place in the West Bank and Gaza without daring to question him on Israeli army violence against Palestinian civilians.

Six days later, Humphrys interviewed the head of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Raji Sourani, who was on the phone from Gaza.

Gaza, by then, was under day and night attack by Israel.

Sourani explained this, to which Humphrys replied: “Couldn’t you stop it if you stopped firing rockets at Israel?”

Sourani: “I think Israel initiated that for several years before…”

Humphrys [interrupting, and incredulous]: “Israel initiated you firing rockets at them?”

Sourani: “No, I’m talking about before this, Israel was attacking for seven nights, bombing Gaza from south to north, and nobody slept for seven days before that, and they were bombing for seven days before that…”

Humphrys [emphatically]: “Three Israeli teenagers have been murdered.”

Sourani: “Eleven has been killed by Israel, including four Palestinian teenagers, and nobody has mentioned that and that’s a great shame. There is no holier than holy blood. Every blood is holy, even Palestinian one.”

The minute-long interview ends here and Humphrys goes on to interview Daniel Taub, Israel’s ambassador to the UK. The rudeness and hectoring disappears and Taub is given four minutes to tell lies about Gaza, such as this —“It’s an area that’s clearly not under occupation” — unchallenged.
Humphry’s interview with Sourani, as well as demonstrating yet again the hostile atmosphere of the BBC for Palestinians, reveals how deeply ingrained the Israeli narrative is within the minds of BBC presenters.

Humphrys sounded genuinely incredulous at Sourani’s suggestion that Israeli violence may have preceded Palestinian violence, rather than being, as Israel always maintains, a defensive reaction to it.
His attitude is that of the colonial-minded journalist, wedded to the belief that if the natives would only stop firing their rockets the colonizer could live in peace.

The theft of land and freedom by the colonizer doesn’t come into it, and Humphrys even implies that Gaza deserves the fatal collective punishment it is receiving because three Israeli teenagers were killed in the West Bank.

Breathtaking 

Such unbalanced, biased interviewing continued through July and August, as Israel was pounding much of Gaza to rubble and wiping out entire Palestinian families.

The lack of impartiality was replicated on BBC television news and BBC Online, where pro-Israeli commentators were presented as “independent” and brought on to defend Israel’s actions.

On the 31 July episode of TodaySarah Montague, true to form, interviewed two Israelis — and no Palestinians — on whether Israel’s assault on Gaza was legal.

Her guests — a retired colonel from the Israeli army, who greenlighted massacres in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead five years before, and a former spokesperson for the Israeli government —enjoyed nine minutes of gentle conversation in which they were able to assert that Israel had no other option but to attack and did so only with great sorrow. 

Today continued to provide a willing platform for Israeli propaganda into August.

On 13 August, former Israeli president, Shimon Peres, was given airtime in an interview with Middle East correspondent, Wyre Davis, for the stated reason than his was “one voice that we haven’t heard much of during this crisis.”

Davis allowed him to tell one astounding lie after another for four minutes.

This was his first lie: “Look, we left Gaza willingly, unilaterally…We handed over to the Palestinians a free, open Gaza, which is a beautiful strip of…a beautiful beach. They could have developed it for tourism, for fishing, for agriculture. We don’t understand, frankly, why are they fighting? What are they shooting? We left. What is the purpose? They want to be free. They are free.”

And this came towards the end: “When we left Gaza, Gaza was open. No restriction, no closure, nothing whatever. We helped them even, to build a new modern agriculture. We would like to see them a normal nation, living in peace, developing their country.”

To which a compliant Davis replied: “Your position is clear. You obviously pursue peace from a position of strength.”

The lies were breathtaking, the fact he was allowed to tell them unchallenged, extraordinary. Compare this to Abdullah’s interview on Today a month earlier, when he wasn’t given the space even to complete a sentence, or Sourani’s interview when he was hectored to justify Gaza’s rockets, the BBC interviewer’s concern, as it always is, being only for Israel, not for the Palestinians under occupation.
The BBC complaints department can fire off as many email messages as it likes, arrogantly declaring the impartiality of the BBC or trying to pretend interviewers don’t have time to “challenge each and every comment made” by an Israeli interviewee.

But an analysis of just one BBC program’s interviews with its Palestinian and Israeli guests shows those claims to be as big a lie as any told by an Israeli spokesperson appearing on Today. And that is truly shameful.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Mumia's condition grave: Take Action

 Stop the Medical Execution of Mumia Abu Jamal

Mumia Abu Jamal is a distinguished Black journalist and ex-member of the Black Panthers who was fitted up by the Police for the killing of a US cop.  He spent 30 years on death row for the killing of Daniel Faulkner.   
  

He was denied the right to represent himself and had a paid and incompetent lawyer.  He has been vilified by Democrats and Republicans alike but has fought the system since been incarcerated in a Pennsylvania gaol since 1982. 


He is now dangerously ill and the prison authorities are now trying to murder him.  I have been sent the appeal below so that people can respond.
Tony Greenstein


Dateline: Friday, April 24th, 8:45 pm

Mumia Abu-Jamal was seen today by his wife and his condition has worsened. He, is gravely ill.  We are asking everyone to call the prison. Right now. It may be late, but call whenever you get this. 

Mumia needs 24 hour care and supervision. He can not be in this condition in general population. In this state he may not be able ask for help, he may lose consciousness. He is too weak. (He was released from the infirmary two days ago).


Mumia
His condtiion: He is extremely swollen in his neck, chest, legs, and his skin is worse than ever, with open sores. He was not in a wheelchair, but can only take baby steps. He is very weak. He was nodding off during the visit. He was not able to eat- he was fed with a spoon. These are symptoms that could be associated with hyper glucose levels, diabetic shock, diabetic coma, and with kidney stress and failure. 

Please call these numbers, and any other numbers you have for the Prison and the Governor.
Demand that Mumia Abu-Jamal see a doctor ASAP. Right Now!
Demand that the prison officials call his wife Wadiya Jamal and his lawyer Bret Grote immediately.
Demand that he be seen immediately, and the not be left to go into a diabetic coma. 
 
John Kerestes, Superintendent SCI Mahanoy: 570-773-2158 x8102 | 570-783-2008 Fax | 301 Morea Road, Frackville PA 17932
Mumia and racist cop he was falsely accused of killing, Daniel Faulkner
  1. Tom Wolf, PA Gvrnr: 717-787-2500 governor@PA.gov | 508 Main Capitol Building, Harrisburg PA 17120
  2. John Wetzel, PA DOC: 717-728-4109 | 717-728-4178 Fax | ra-contactdoc@poc.gov | 1920 Technology Pkwy, Mechanicsburg PA 17050
  3. Susan McNaughton, DOC Press secretary 717-728-4025.  PA Docsmcnaughton@pa.gov

We need your help right now.  Please forward this far and wide.

Every call matters.  Every action matters.  We need to be in the streets. Call your friends, your neighbors. Take action.

freemumia.com   prisonradio.org   bringmumiahome.com

Noelle Hanrahan
Prison Radio

Zionism's Professor of 'New Anti-Semitism' Humiliated in Debate

Robert Wistrich Professor at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem Can't Defend his Racist Nonsense

Robert Wistrich & Mehdi Hassan in Head to Head
Robert Wistrich is one of Zionism's leading Professors.  An ardent supporter of the idea that anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism, he was humiliated when he took part in a Head to Head debate with Mehdi Hassan on Al Jazeera.

Robert Wistrich
When it came to defending the Islamification of Europe (Eurabia') nonsense in his latest book he completely backtracked.  Indeed he spent the better part of the programme backtracking.  A must watch video!




Zionists Seek to Silence the Lancet and Secure the Dismissal of its Editor, Richard Horton

Zionist Professors & Doctors in Support of Mass Murder in Gaza
Posted on April 15, 2015


 In this public response to the smear campaign and personal attacks on Richard Horton, The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Lancet Complaint to Reed Elsevier, we assert:-

1. Richard Horton is highly regarded as an exceptional leader in global health and as a campaigning Editor of The Lancet in the best traditions of the Journal.
Richard Horton - Editor under attack from Zionists
2. Politics is intrinsic to many health issues and a legitimate subject for health commentary and debate, especially in the world’s leading global health journal. Controversy is an inevitable and healthy aspect of public discourse on political issues.
This is what the Zionist Professors & Doctors are Happy With
3. The “Open letter to the people of Gaza” addressed an important topical issue, the main points of which have been substantiated by subsequent, independent, reports of what happened in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, of which it is possible that some of the complainants are unaware.
Richard Pepys is Knighted for Devotion to Mass Murder
4. To describe the Open letter as ”stereotypical extremist hate propaganda” is inaccurate and unhelpful hyperbole.
5. The Lancet provided equal coverage of views for and against the letter in subsequent published correspondence, reflecting the ratio of letters received by the Journal and allowing a healthy debate to take place.
6. The Lancet Ombudsman’s review of the issue was balanced and fair, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the letter and how the controversy was handled, for all to see. She was not persuaded that the letter should be retracted.

7. The Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) is best placed to judge whether its Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines have been breached. A previous Chair of COPE has written that the Open letter should not be retracted.

8. The heavy-handed attempt to force The Lancet to withdraw the Open letter is the latest in a series of attempts to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.
9. In the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others, the “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is to determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed.
15 April 2015

Scroll down to read the full response.
WRITING GROUP:
Professor Graham Watt MD, FRCGP, FRSE, FMedSci, Professor of General Practice, University of Glasgow, UK
Sir Iain Chalmers DSc, FFPH, FRCP Edin, FRCP, FMedSci, Coordinator, James Lind Initiative, Oxford, UK
Professor Rita Giacaman PharmD, MPhil, Professor of Public Health, Birzeit University, occupied Palestinian territory
Professor Mads Gilbert MD, PhD, Professor of Emergency Medicine, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Professor John S Yudkin MD, FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University College London, UK
If you wish to communicate with the Writing Group please email HandsOffTheLancet@Gmail.Com
SUPPORTING SIGNATORIES:
Professor Emeritus Jarle Aarbakke MD, PhD, Former President (Rector) UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Professor Adel Afifi MD, MS, Professor Emeritus, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, USA
Professor Rima Afifi, PhD, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Professor Neil Arya MD, CCFP, FCFP, D Litt, Assistant Clinical Professor Family Medicine, McMaster University, Adjunct Professor Family Medicine Western University, Adjunct Professor Environment and Resources Studies University of Waterloo, Canada
Professor Rajaie Batniji MD, DPhil, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford University, USA
Professor Robert Beaglehole DSc, FRS(NZ), ONZM, Professor Emeritus, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Professor Espen Bjertness PhD, Head, Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway
Professor Rolf Busund MD, PhD, Professor of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Professor Simon Capewell DSc, MD, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Liverpool, UK
Professor Phil Cotton MD, Professor of Learning and Teaching, University of Glasgow, UK
Professor George Davey Smith MD, DSc, FMedSci, Professor of Clinical Epidemiology, University of Bristol, UK
Professor John A Davis MD, FRCP, FRCPCH, Emeritus Professor of Paediatrics, University of Cambridge, UK
Dr. James Deutsch, MD, PhD, FRCPC, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, Canada
Judith Deutsch MSW, Faculty, Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute, Former President Science for Peace (2008-2012), Canada.
Professor Abbas Elzein PhD, Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering, University of Sydney, Australia
Sir Terence English KBE, FRCS, FRCP, Former President of the Royal College of Surgeons, President of the British Medical Association and Master of St Catherine’s College, Cambridge, UK
Professor Gene Feder MD, FRCGP, Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, UK
Professor Olav Helge Foerde MD, PhD, Department of Community Medicine, UiT The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Professor Per Fugelli MD, Professor of Social Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway
Dr. Miriam Garfinkle MD, Retired Community Physician, Independent Jewish Voices, Canada
Emilio Gianicolo, Researcher of the Italian National Research Council, Italy. Since September 2013, guest researcher at the University of Mainz, Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics in Mainz, Germany
Professor Gordon Guyatt PhD, Distinguished Professor of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Medicine, McMaster University, Canada
Professor Rima Habib PhD, MPH, MOHS, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Professor Gudmund Hernes, Norwegian Business School, Oslo; Former Norwegian Minister of Education and Research (1990-95), and of Health (1995-97), Norway
Professor Dennis Hogan PhD, Robert E Turner Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Population Studies and Sociology, Brown University, USA
Professor Gerd Holmboe-Ottesen PhD, Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway
Professor Anne Husebekk MD, PhD, Rector of UiT, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Professor Tor Ingebrigtsen MD PhD, Hospital Chief Executive/CEO, The University Hospital of North Norway, Tromsø, Norway.
Dr. Lars Jerden MD, PhD, Center for Clinical Research Dalarna, Sweden
Professor Jak Jervell PhD, Professor Emeritus, Honorary President, International Diabetes Federation, Norway
Professor Ann Louise Kinmonth CBE, FMedSci, Emeritus Professor of General Practice, University of Cambridge, UK
Professor Rebecca Kay PhD, Professor of Russian Gender Studies; Co-convenor Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network GRAMNET, University of Glasgow, UK
Professor Debbie Lawlor FMedSci, Professor of Epidemiology, University of Bristol, UK
Professor Jennifer Leaning MD, SMH, FXB, Professor of Practice of Health and Human Rights, Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, USA
Professor Emeritus Georges Midrè PhD, Department of Sociology, Political Science and Community Planning, The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø, Norway
Professor Alan Myers MD, MPH, FAAP, Professor of Paediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, USA
Professor Kaare Norum MS, PhD, Former president (Rector) University of Oslo, Former Dean of Medical Faculty, University of Oslo, Norway
Professor Iman Nuwayhid PhD, Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
Professor Kate O’Donnell PhD, Professor of Primary Care Research and Development, University of Glasgow, UK
Professor Ole Petter Ottersen MD, PhD, Rector of the University of Oslo, Norway
Professor Alison Phipps OBE, PHD, FRSE, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, University of Glasgow, UK. Co-Convener: Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network, UK
Professor Raija-Leena Punamaki PhD, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland
Reem A Qadir MSW, RSW, A social worker with extensive work experience in Individual and Family Therapy, Canada
Dr. Sara Roy PhD, Senior Research Scholar Associate, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University, Boston, USA
Professor Harry Shannon PhD, Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Canada
Professor Debbie Sharp PhD, FRCGP, Professor of Primary Health Care, University of Bristol, UK
Dr. Angelo Stefanini MD, MPH, Scientific Director, Centre for International Health. Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Bologna, Italy
Professor Johanne Sundby PhD, MD, Department of Community Medicine, University of Oslo, Norway
Dr. George Tawil MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington DC. Past president of the Medical Staff, Inova Alexandria Hospital, Alexandria, Virginia. Past Chair, Medical Affairs Council, Inova Health Systems, Fairfax, Virginia, USA
Professor Paul Wallace FRCGP, FFPHM, Emeritus David Cohen Professor of Primary Care, University College London, UK
Professor Steinar Westin MD, PhD, Department of Public Health and General Practice, The Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, Norway
Professor Salim Yusuf DPhil, FRCPC, FRSC, OC, Professor of Medicine, McMaster University, Canada
Professor Huda Zurayk PhD, Professor and previous Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, Lebanon

The names of the 240 additional scientists, clinicians and researchers who have co-signed this response since its publication can be viewed here.

Introduction
On 31 March 2015, 396 professors and doctors, led by Professor Sir Mark Pepys, submitted a complaint to the Senior Management and Board of Reed Elsevier concerning “egregious editorial misconduct at The Lancet that is unacceptable in general and also gravely violates your own published Editorial Policies”.

The signatories include 5 Nobel laureates, 4 knights and a Lord. 193 (49%) of the signatories are from the US, 95 (24%) from Israel, 33 (8%) from the UK, 26 from France, 19 from Canada, 12 from Australia with smaller numbers from Belgium (3), Brazil (3), Italy (2), Denmark (2), Mexico (1), Panama (1), South Africa (1), Sweden (1) and Switzerland (1).

The complaint makes brief mention of The Lancet’s publication of the paper by Wakefield, linking MMR vaccine to autism, which was shown subsequently to be fraudulent, but is chiefly concerned with The Lancet Editor-in-Chief, Richard Horton, and his alleged “persistent and inappropriate misuse of The Lancet to mount a sustained political vendetta concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict, to promote his own well known personal political agenda”.

The centre of the complaint concerns “An open letter for the people of Gaza” by Manduca and 23 others, which was published online by The Lancet on 22nd July and in hard copy on 2nd August 2014, 14 days into “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s 50 day attack on Gaza.

The complainants consider that this letter, and The Lancet’s handling of the controversy it aroused, breached both the Journal’s own policies and the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors issues by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE).

The complaint ends by requiring “Reed Elsevier to behave ethically by retracting the Manduca letter, apologizing for its publication and ensuring that any further editorial malpractice at The Lancet is prevented”.

Chronology of events
8 July 2014
Israel began a major military assault on the Gaza Strip, the fourth in eight years. It lasted 50 days and was more devastating than previous offensives. 2,220 Gaza residents were killed, of whom at least 70% were civilians, including over 500 children. More than 17,000 residents were wounded and over 100,000 made homeless (UN OCHAopt, 2014). According to Israeli official accounts, 73 Israelis were killed: 67 soldiers and 6 civilians, including one child and one migrant worker. 469 Israeli soldiers and 255 civilians were wounded (Bachmann et al. 2014).

15-22 July 2014
A report cited by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper records that 125 children were killed during the week 15-22 July 2014, including 59 on 20th July.

22 July 2014
On the 14th day of Israel’s 50-day assault ‘An open letter for the people in Gaza’, co-authored by 24 signatories from Italy, the UK and Norway, was published by the medical journal The Lancet, initially online and subsequently in print (Manduca et al. 2014a). One of the signatories provided eyewitness accounts of the medical consequences for the civilian population, while working clinically at the largest trauma centre in Gaza during the first weeks of the assault. The letter was endorsed online by more than 20,000 signatories.

9 and 16 August 2014
The Lancet published 20 letters in hard copy editions, divided equally between authors criticising and supporting the Open Letter. Some correspondents declared that medicine “should not take sides” and that those who speak out against the consequences of war for civilians incited hate or introduced politics “where there is no place for it” (see, for example, Konikoff et al. 2014). Others described the letter as “anti-Jewish bigotry, pure and simple” (Marmor et al. 2014), although at least one of the authors of the ‘Open Letter’ was Jewish, and the word “Jewish” did not appear in the letter. Similar charges were made in the lay press, both within Israel and elsewhere (see Simons 2014, for example).
One of the letters published in response to the ‘Open Letter’ was co-authored by seven Jewish health professionals in South Africa (London et al. 2014). They suggested that “remaining neutral in the face of injustice is the hallmark of a lack of ethical engagement typical of docile populations under fascism”. They had witnessed and exposed some of the worst excesses of state brutality under apartheid, and had been harassed, victimised or detained for being anti-apartheid activists. They pointed out that they did not have the opportunity to air their views in their national medical journal, which suppressed public statements made by concerned health professionals and labelled such appeals for justice and human rights as ‘political’.

They expressed support for The Lancet’s decision to permit a discussion of the professional, ethical, and human rights implications of the conflict in Gaza, emphasizing that it is appropriate for health professionals to speak out on matters that are core to their professional values.

30 August 2014
After 20 responses to the ‘Open Letter’ had been published, its authors accepted The Lancet’s invitation to reply (Manduca et al. 2014b). They denied any financial conflicts of interests, as had been alleged, and listed the variety of experiences and affiliations that had led to their support for Palestinian society.

They noted that the allegations by the Ministry of Health in Gaza that gas had been used by the Israeli military would need to be tested by an independent Commission of Inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council. They ended by recalling the context in which they had written their letter: during the preceding two days one Palestinian child was being killed, on average, every two hours, and the UN had made clear how serious the situation had become:
The huge loss of civilian life, alongside credible reports about civilians or civilian objects (including homes) which have been directly hit by Israeli shelling, in circumstances where there was no rocket fire or armed group activity in the close vicinity, raise concerns about the principles of distinction and proportionality under international law.” (OCHA oPt 2014)

22 September 2014
Some were dissatisfied with The Lancet’s handling of the Open Letter. Two medical academics at University College London registered complaints with The Lancet Ombudsman (Simons 2014). One of them, Professor Sir Mark Pepys, was quoted in The Telegraph as having written that “The failure of the Manduca 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.”

Pepys suggested that the behaviour of Dr Horton, editor of The Lancet, was “consistent with his longstanding and wholly inappropriate use of The Lancet as a vehicle for his own extreme political views, which had greatly detracted from the former high standing of the journal.” (quoted in Simons 2014).

The article in The Telegraph also alleged that two of the authors of the Open letter – one of them Chinese – have sympathies with the views of “an American white supremacist” (Simons, 2014), following the mistaken forwarding of emails, for which both individuals subsequently apologised.
When one of the authors of the ‘Open Letter’, the Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert, who has worked clinically in Gaza during every Israeli assault on the Strip since 2006, was voted “Norwegian Name of the Year” in a national poll in December 2014, Pepys and eight other doctors wrote to the largest Norwegian newspaper, VG, to complain about his silence on the ‘loathsome hatred and racism’ of his co-authors. They asked for his national award to be reconsidered (Cohn et al. 2015).

17 October 2014
The Lancet Ombudsman published her report online on 17 October (Wedzicha, 2014). She said that she had received many emails and letters, some supporting and others opposing the position expressed in the ‘Open Letter’, and that some of them had been inappropriate in tone and of a personal nature. She stated that it was “entirely proper that medical journals and other media should seek to guide and reflect debate on matters relevant to health, including conflicts”.

She was not persuaded by calls for retraction of the ‘Open Letter’, “I do not believe that sufficient grounds for retraction have been established, and this would make other letters referring to the publication in question difficult to interpret”.

The Ombudsman went on to address allegations of bias among the authors of the ‘Open Letter’. “Given the shocking images and statistics reported from Gaza at the time, the use by Manduca and colleagues of emotive language, in description of the ‘massacre in Gaza’ for example, can be understood. Where the letter is less successful is in its portrayal of the armed element of the conflict on the Palestinian side. Given the authors’ close association with the region they will have been aware that several thousand potentially lethal rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza into Israel during the conflict, leading to loss of life.”

The authors were criticised for not having disclosed at the time of submission “any financial or other relationships that could be perceived to affect their work”, and she indicated that she would be asking the journal’s editors to put a policy in place as soon as possible to rectify this. The Ombudsman criticised the authors for not referencing in their original letter the source for their statement about the possible use of gas in Gaza.

The Ombudsman’s most serious criticism of the letter was the “regrettable statement” that, because only 5% of Israeli academics had supported an appeal to the Israeli government to stop the military operation in Gaza (Gur-Arieh 2014), the authors had been “tempted to conclude that…the rest of the Israeli academics [had been] complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza”.

“In summary”, the Ombudsman concluded, “the letter by Manduca and co-authors was published at a time of great tension, violence and loss of life. Given these circumstances the letter’s shortcomings can be understood, as a measure of balance has been achieved by the publication of further letters from both sides of the debate.”

3 November 2014
The Ombudsman’s decision to reject calls for the letter to be withdrawn from the public record was supported by Dr Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, former chair of COPE and author of COPE’s Code of Conduct for Editors (Smith 2014): The Lancet letter was “passionate, overstated in parts, inflammatory to some, and one sided; and the authors failed to declare competing interests and two of them had acted in an objectionable but not illegal way. But none of these are grounds for retraction.”

He ended his commentary on an historical note: “The Lancet was made the great journal it is by Thomas Wakley, the founder and first editor, publishing articles that were so inflammatory that his critics burnt his house down. That radical tradition has not always shone brightly in the nearly 200 years since, but Horton has restored it strongly, establishing the Lancet as a world leader in global health, speaking truth to power and giving a voice to those who are not heard (like the children of Gaza). It’s against that radical tradition and leadership that the Gaza open letter must be viewed. It should and has been disputed, but it shouldn’t be retracted.

Contrasting views of journal editors
Editors have disagreed on whether political issues should be addressed in scientific journals.
For example, the American Diabetes Association issued a statement, signed by several editors of leading diabetes and endocrine journals, indicating that they “will refrain from publishing articles addressing political issues that are outside of either research funding or health care delivery” (American Diabetes Association 2014).

In response, a commentary signed by the current and two previous editors-in-chief of the European Journal of Public Health, one of whom has longstanding and very extensive collaborations with Israeli colleagues (McKee et al. 2015), voiced strong support for The Lancet, arguing that medical journals cannot ignore the political determinants of health, including those arising from conflicts. They noted, “It seems strange that it was the diabetes community that feels it necessary to take this decision,” noting how the global epidemic of diabetes, fuelled by forcing markets open to energy-dense food, reflects a policy identified primarily with Republicans rather than Democrats in the United States.

Following the Ombudsman’s Report
Soon after Israel’s 2014 assault, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-Israel) assembled a medical fact-finding mission (FFM) of 8 international medical experts, unaffiliated with Israeli or Palestinian parties. Four had expertise in the fields of forensic medicine and pathology; four others were experts in emergency medicine, public health, paediatrics and paediatric intensive care, and health and human rights. The FFM made three visits to Gaza between 18 August and November, 2014.

The principal conclusion in the report of the FFM (Bachmann et al. 2014) is as follows: The attacks were characterised by heavy and unpredictable bombardments of civilian neighbourhoods in a manner that failed to discriminate between legitimate targets and protected populations and caused widespread destruction of homes and civilian property. Such indiscriminate attacks, by aircraft, drones, artillery, tanks and gunships, were unlikely to have been the result of decisions made by individual soldiers or commanders; they must have entailed approval from top-level decision-makers in the Israeli military and/or government.

The FFM (pp 98-99) listed many examples “suggestive of several serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”, including disproportionality, attacks on medical teams and facilities, and denial of means of escape. They also reported (pp 53-55) evidence which suggested the use of anti-personnel weapons and gas during the conflict.

These accusations have also been made in reports by Amnesty International (Amnesty, 2014), Human Rights Watch (Human Rights Watch, 2014), B’Tselem (B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 2015) and the United Nations (OCHA, 2014, 2015).
The FFM called on the UN, the EU, the US and other international actors to take steps to ensure that the governments of Israel and Egypt permit and facilitate the entry of investigative teams into Gaza, including experts in international human rights law and arms experts, and noted (in January 2015) that this had still not been done, months after the offensive. Specifically, the UN Commission of Inquiry has been denied entry to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza (See: United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict).

The FFM recommended further urgent and rigorous investigation into the impact of this war, as well as the previous armed conflicts, on public health, mental health and the broader social determinants of health in Gaza, adding that, in its assessment, the implacable effects of the on-going occupation itself would have to be taken into account.

There have been subsequent accusations by Amnesty International of war crimes committed by both sides of the conflict (BBC 2014; Linfield 2015).

Further calls for retraction of the Open Letter
Dissatisfied with the Ombudsman’s report, critics of the Open letter continued to call for it to be withdrawn and for The Lancet editor to apologise for publishing it. In a new development, the authors of the Open letter, and the journal, are being accused of being anti-Semitic. The current complaint to Reed Elsevier now refers to the Open Letter as “stereotypical extremist hate propaganda, under the selective and hypocritical disguise of medical concern”. On 24 February 2015, its lead author Professor Sir Mark Pepys wrote to 58 Israeli academics (Pepys, 2015):

The Lancet under the editorship of Richard Horton has published, for more than the past 10 years, many disgracefully dishonest and unacceptable articles about Israel. Horton has made no secret of the fact that these pieces express his own very strongly held personal views which he has published elsewhere in detail.

Last July, at the height of the Gaza war, The Lancet published a piece by Manduca and others which was at an unprecedentedly low level. It combines outright lies and slanted propaganda viciously attacking Israel with blood libels echoing those used for a thousand years to create anti-Semitic pogroms. It completely omitted the Hamas war crimes which initiated and sustained the conflict. There was no historical or political background. Crucially there was no mention of any conflict of interest among the authors despite the fact that Manduca and all the co-authors have long participated enthusiastically in not just anti-Israel but frankly Jew hating activities. All these individuals are close colleagues and collaborators of Horton.

Many of us have been trying as hard as we can since the Manduca publication to get it retracted, to get an apology for it and to convince Elsevier, the owners of The Lancet to both sanction Horton and to prevent any repetition of such shameful and unacceptable behaviour. So far there has been no satisfactory response. Indeed Horton continues to stand by the Manduca piece and refuses to accept that it is not factual and correct.

The goal of the attached protest to Elsevier document is to get the [‘Open letter’] retracted. I hope that all of you will sign it. Meanwhile colleagues at the Rambam Hospital have, as you know, invited Horton to Israel and shown him the reality of Israeli medicine, as opposed to the vicious anti-Semitic fantasy he has promoted. They have engaged in long discussions with him. Despite his refusal to either retract or apologise for his publications some colleagues are apparently convinced that Horton has reformed. Others, including Professor Peretz Lavie, the President of the Technion, who met with him for one and a half hours, were unconvinced by Horton’s presumed change of heart.

My view is that the Manduca piece was written by dedicated Jew haters, though some choose to mask this by being overtly passionate only about hating Israel. But they all agree that a Zionist/Jewish lobby or power group controls the world and its destiny and must be brought down. The Manduca piece would have made Goebbels proud and Streicher would have published it in Der Stürmer as happily as Horton published it in The Lancet…… anybody who was not a committed anti-Semite would firstly not have published (the Open letter), and secondly would have retracted instantly when the first author’s long track record of blatant anti-Semitism were exposed. In Horton’s case he already knew and liked her and her co-authors well, fully aware of all their vicious anti-Israel and frank, overtly anti-Semitic backgrounds.

Pepys’ text was distributed widely beyond the Israelis to whom the initial text had been sent, including, on 30 March, to over 150 academics with the subject line amended to:
DO NOT CITE The Lancet in your work – Their content includes fraudulent data’ (Lewis 2015).
As a result of this correspondence, 396 people have co-signed the complaint, including the statement “The collaboration of the academic community with Reed Elsevier and its journals is based on trust in their maintaining high ethical and scientific standards. None of us is under any obligation to submit and review material for publication in their journals or to serve on their editorial or advisory boards”.

The long history of pro-Israel suppression of medical freedom of expression
The heavy-handed escalation of the dispute and the use of ad personam charges of anti-Semitism to suppress freedom of expression in medical journals are not new.

In 1981, a short article in World Medicine informed medical readers who were considering attending the ‘medical olympics’ in Israel that the event was going to be held on the site of a massacre ordered by the then prime minister of Israel (Sabbagh 1981). The pro-Israel protest led eventually to the demise of the journal (O’Donnell 2009).

In 2001, pro-Israel objections to the historical background in an article on ‘The origins of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations’ published in Human Immunology (Arnaiz-Villena et al. 2001) led Elsevier to remove it from the public record.

In 2004, an article entitled ‘Poverty, stress and unmet needs: life with diabetes in the Gaza Strip’ (Tsapogas 2004) published in Diabetes Voice was expunged from the public record and the editor resigned, again because of charges of political bias.

In 2004, there was an outcry from pro-Israel doctors when the British Medical Journal published a personal view entitled ‘Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes’ (Summerfield 2004). The editor received nearly a thousand emails, many of them personally abusive and alleging anti-Semitism (Sabbagh 2009).

In 2009, commenting on several British Medical Journal papers exposing and discussing these issues, a senior British Medical Journal editor concluded that authors, editors, publishers, advertisers, and shareholders should ignore orchestrated email campaigns (Delamothe 2009). Citing another editor he suggested that the best way to blunt the effectiveness of this type of bullying is to expose it to public scrutiny.

Conclusion
The “Open letter to the People of Gaza” was written in deep concern and outrage during a military assault on the Gaza Strip, killing large numbers of civilians, including women and children, on a daily basis. The world was shocked and appalled. The content and tone of the letter were controversial, as shown by subsequent correspondence in The Lancet, for and against.

The Lancet Ombudsman criticised aspects of the letter but neither she nor a former Chair of COPE considered that it should be withdrawn.

The involvement of 396 senior researchers in a mass effort to force Reed Elsevier to withdraw the letter is the latest in a series of heavy-handed interventions to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine issue and should be resisted.

Richard Horton should be supported as an exceptional editor of The Lancet, in the best traditions of the Journal.

The “unfinished business” of Operation Protective Edge is not whether the “Open Letter to the People of Gaza” should be retracted, but in the light of reports by Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the United Nations and others, to determine whether and by whom, from either side of the conflict, violations of international human rights and humanitarian law were committed.

Will the 396 signatories of the complaint to Reed Elsevier give their support to that objective?

Writing group

Professor Graham Watt MD FRCGP FRSE FMedSci
Graham Watt has long term academic links with the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University; has post-doctoral colleagues working at Birzeit University and the University of Hebron; chairs the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance* and is a Trustee of the UK charity Medical Aid for Palestinians. He did not sign the Open Letter for the People of Gaza.

Sir Iain Chalmers DSc FFPH FRCP Edin FRCP FMedSci
Iain Chalmers was employed by UNRWA in Gaza in 1969 and 1970, and has returned there (self-funded) at intervals since, most recently to help support the development of Evidence-Based Medicine. He was a member of the steering committee for The Lancet series on Health and Health Services in the occupied Palestinian territory, and serves on the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*. He has supported the Gaza Oxford Brookes University Scholarship scheme financially, and makes regular financial contributions to Physicians for Human Rights–Israel, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Jewish Voice for Peace, together with other charities supporting human rights. He is a co-author of the Open Letter for the people of Gaza.

Professor Rita Giacaman, PharmD, MPhil
Rita Giacaman is a Palestinian faculty member at the Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University and a member of the steering committee of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*.

Professor Mads Gilbert MD PhD
Mads Gilbert is a member of the Norwegian Palestine Committee and co-founder of Norwegian Aid Committee (NORWAC); has received funding from the Norwegian Government for medical work in Lebanon occupied Palestine; and has travelled to occupied Palestine, including Gaza, on various medical missions with paid or unpaid leave from the University Hospital of North-Norway for WHO, UNRWA, NORWAC, and the Norwegian Palestine Committee. He has worked as a clinician in Al-Shifa Hospital during recent Israeli incursions (2006, 2009, 2012 and 2014). He is a peer reviewer for conferences and publications of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance*. He delivered testimonies for the Report of the International Commission to enquire into reported violations of international law by Israel during its invasion of Lebanon, to the “Goldstone Commission” and to the current UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict. He is a co-author of the Open letter for the people of Gaza.

Professor John S Yudkin
John Yudkin is a peer reviewer for conferences and publications of The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance* and a member of its steering committee.
*The Lancet-Palestinian Health Alliance (LPHA) is a loose network of Palestinian, regional and international researchers who are committed to the highest scientific standards in describing, analysing and evaluating the health and health care of Palestinians, to contributing to the international scientific literature and to developing local evidence-based policy and practice. The principal activity of the LPHA is an annual scientific conference, selected abstracts from which have been published by The Lancet.

References
American Diabetes Association (2014). ADA/AACE/EASD/TES Statement in response to a recently published letter to the editor in The Lancet and an editorial addressing the Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza. http://www.diabetes.org/newsroom/press-releases/2014/adaaaceeasdtes-statement.html

Arnaiz-Villena A, Elaiwa N, Silvera C, Rostom A, Moscoso J, Gómez-Casado, Allende L, Varela P, Martínez-Laso J (2001). The origins of Palestinians and their genetic relatedness with other Mediterranean populations. Human Immunology 62:889-900.

Bachmann J, Baldwin-Ragaven L, Hougen HP, Leaning J, Kelly K, Özkalipci O, Reynolds L, Vacas L (2014). Gaza, 2014. Findings of an independent medical fact-finding mission. Physicians for Human Rights Israel. https://gazahealthattack.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/gazareport_eng.pdf
BBC (2014). Amnesty: Israeli strikes on Gaza buildings ‘war crimes’. 9 December. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-30393540

B’Tselem (2015). Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014. Jan. 2015. http://www.btselem.org/publications/summaries/201501_black_flag

Cohn JR, Katz D, Zimmet P, Pepys M, Fink RH, Sprague SM, Greenland P, Stone D, Cohen S (2015). Norwegian newspaper VG, 27 January. http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/translation_of_norwegian_letter_on_mads_gilbert_from_international_doctors

Delamothe T (2009). What to do about orchestrated email campaigns. BMJ 338:491-92. 22
Gur-Arieh N (2014). More than 70 Israeli academics signed a petition condemning the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. Jewish Journal, 29 July. http://www.jewishjournal.com/israelife/item/more_than_70_israeli_academics_signed_a_petition_condemning_the_israel_defe

Konikoff T, Konikoff FM, Shoenfeld Y (2014). Israel-Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:491.

Lewis BS (2015). ‘DO NOT CITE The Lancet in your work – Their content includes fraudulent data’. Email sent to 101 recipients, 30 March.

Linfield B (2015). Amnesty’s other verdict on Gaza war: Hamas committed war crimes as well. The Independent, 26 March. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/amnestys-other-verdict-on-gaza-war-hamas-committed-war-crimes-as-well-10134099.html
London L, Sanders D, Klugman B, Usdin S, Baldwin-Ragavan L, Fonn S, Goldstein S (2014). Israel–Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:e34.

Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014a). An open letter for the people in Gaza. Lancet 384:397-8. http://www.thelancet.com/gaza-letter-2014
Manduca P, Chalmers I, Summerfield D, Gilbert M, Ang S, Hay A, Rose S, Rose H, Stefanini A, Balduzzi A, Cigliano B, Pecoraro C, Di Maria E, Camandona F, Veronese G, Ramenghi L, Rui M, DelCarlo P, D’agostino S, Russo S, Luisi V, Papa S, Agnoletto V, Agnoletto M (2014b). Israel-Gaza conflict. Authors Reply. Lancet 384:746.
Marmore BM, Spirt BA (2014). Israel-Gaza conflict. Lancet 384:491. 23
McKee M, Mackenbach JP, Allebeck P (2015). Should a medical journal ever publish a political paper? European Journal of Public Health 25:1-2.
OCHA oPt (2014). Occupied Palestinian Territory: Gaza emergency. Situation report (as of July, 22, 2014, 1500 hrs). http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_sitrep_23_07_2014.pdf
O’Donnell M (2009). Stand up for free speech. BMJ 338:512-13.
Pepys M (2015). Complaint to Reed Elsevier. Email sent to 58 Israeli recipients. 24 February. A copy of the full text of Pepys’ email (with recipients’ names and email addresses removed) is available to view here.

Sabbagh K (1981). Mere words: the blood on Begin’s hands. World Medicine 17:93.
Sabbagh K (2009). Perils of criticizing Israel. BMJ 338:509-11.
Simons JW (2014). Lancet ‘highjacked in anti-Israel campaign’. The Telegraph, 22 September. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/11112930/Lancet-hijacked-in-anti-Israel-campaign.html
Smith R (2014). No case for retracting Lancet’s Gaza letter. BMJ Blog, 3 November. http://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2014/11/03/richard-smith-no-case-for-retracting-lancets-gaza-letter/
Summerfield D (2004). Palestine: the assault on health and other war crimes. BMJ 329:924.
Tsapogas P (2004). Poverty, stress and unmet needs: life with diabetes in the Gaza Strip. Diabetes Voice 49:12-15. Now removed from website. Article of complaint and apology from International Diabetes Federation http://www.idf.org/sites/default/files/attachments/article_290_en.pdf
United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15456&LangID=E
UN OCHAopt, 2014. “Fragmented lives. Humanitarian overview 2014. March 2015. http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/annual_humanitarian_overview_2014_english_final.pdf
Wedzicha W (2014). Ombudsman’s report on the letter by Manduca and others. Lancet http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2814%2961897-3/fulltext?rss=yes

Signatories
Current number of additional co-signatories: 240
To view the list of scientists, clinicians and researchers who have co-signed this response since its publication click here

Lancet medical journal under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict


Exclusive: Hundreds of doctors and academics express outrage at Lancet over coverage of Gaza conflict

One of the world’s oldest and most venerable medical journals is 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 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.
The controversy has been triggered by an article that appeared during the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip in July 2014 (AFP/Getty)

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.
“An open letter to the people of Gaza” provoked a fierce debate in The Lancet’s correspondence columns, with some complaining it was “anti-Jewish bigotry” and others that medicine “should not take sides”.

It later emerged that two of the signatories of the open letter had circulated emails containing a video suggesting sympathies with an anti-Semitic American white supremacist. Both apologised and Dr Horton also subsequently apologised for the “offensive video” during a visit to Israel. But he did not withdraw the article.

In October, the Lancet’s ombudsman investigated the complaints and criticised the open letter but said this did not justify retracting it. However, this did not satisfy the journal’s critics and the dispute has rumbled on.

The Lancet has been accused of using the journal for "political purposes" (EPA)
In the latest and most serious development, the protesters, led by Professor Sir Mark Pepys of University College London, mustered 396 professors and specialists from around the world to sign a complaint which was submitted to the board of Reed Elsevier last month. The complainants demand that the publisher retract the open letter, apologise for its publication and ensure “any further malpractice at The Lancet is prevented”.

They threaten an academic boycott of Reed Elsevier, which publishes over 2,000 scientific journals, if their demands are not met. “None of us is under any obligation to submit and review material for publication in their journals or to serve on their editorial or advisory boards,” it says.

A further 150 doctors have added their signatures since the complaint was submitted on a website set up to co-ordinate the protest at concernedacademics.org.

In response, a rival group of 300 doctors, led by Professor Graham Watt of the University of Glasgow, has rebutted the criticisms on their own website, handsoffthelancet.com.

They argue Richard Horton is “an exceptional leader in global health”, that politics is “intrinsic to many health issues and a legitimate subject for commentary” and dismiss references to “extremist hate propaganda” as “unhelpful hyperbole”.

“The heavy-handed attempt to force The Lancet to withdraw the open letter is the latest in a series of attempts to stifle media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict and should be resisted,” they say.
On Wednesday, the Lancet’s international advisory board, comprising 19 professors, wrote to Reed Elsevier to express its “unreserved support” for Richard Horton.

Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ, which is to publish a commentary on the dispute, said it had suffered similar attacks over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Health is a deeply political issue. There is a long history, when Israel/Palestine gets discussed, of the medium being attacked. I don’t think that The Lancet should retract the open letter.
“Richard Horton has transformed The Lancet from a rather sleepy, academic journal to put it at the heart of the global debate on health. Many consider him heroic but in other respects he has upset people. This feels like a settling of scores.”

No one from Reed Elsevier was available for comment.

These academics complaining of Lancet's pro-Palestinian bias are fighting a lost battle

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/these-academics-complaining-of-lancets-propalestinian-bias-are-fighting-a-lost-battle-10199898.html

Richard Horton has taken The Lancet back to its radical roots, speaking truth to power, holding the powerful to account and giving a voice to those who are not heard, like the children of Gaza. Most editors follow their readers, but the way Richard has led on global health is extraordinary.

The 500 complaining academics remind me of the White Russians, continuing to fight a battle that has been lost. The Committee on Publication Ethics has ruled there are no grounds for retracting the open letter, as has The Lancet’s ombudsman. Reed Elsevier, the journal’s owner, has sensibly stayed silent to avoid compromising the editorial independence of The Lancet, its most valuable possession.
Have all the academics actually read the highly intemperate, sometimes inaccurate letter they have signed? Academics should not be in the business of stifling free speech and putting their name to such bad prose. Open and full debate is fundamental to both science and politics, and the right response to something that you disagree with is to encourage, not suppress, debate.

As John Milton wrote, “Truth was never put to the worse in a free and open encounter… If it come to prohibiting, there is not ought more likely to be prohibited than truth itself.”

Richard Smith is a former  editor of the BMJ and a  co-founder of the Committee on Publication Ethics