Lancet editor ‘deeply regrets’ publishing Gaza letter
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Lancet editor ‘deeply regrets’ publishing Gaza letter

Richard Horton says British medical journal was wrong to run accusation of Israeli ‘massacre,’ vows to print retraction

Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet. (screen capture: YouTube/World Health Summit)
Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal The Lancet. (screen capture: YouTube/World Health Summit)

The editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, which ran an open letter accusing Israel of a “massacre” in Gaza, said on a visit to Israel that he will publish a retraction.

Dr. Richard Horton made a statement Thursday during Grand Rounds at the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, which he visited earlier in the week.

Horton reportedly said during his statement that he “deeply, deeply regrets” publishing the letter to the people of Gaza in The Lancet during this summer’s conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Several dozen physicians from the West signed the letter, which also accused Israel of “cruel” and “vicious war crimes.” Physicians, researchers and Israeli officials decried the letter.

NGO Monitor last month unearthed evidence tying two of the letters’ authors to support for white supremacist David Duke.

Horton had dismissed the NGO Monitor report as a smear campaign.

“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,” he told the Telegraph last month.

But during his statement at Rambam on Thursday, Horton reportedly condemned the contributors to The Lancet who promote explicitly anti-Semitic materials, expressed a new understanding of Israeli realities including the complexities of the Arab-Israel conflict, and pledged a new relationship with Israel.

He also invited Israelis to “tell the Israeli health story” in The Lancet, in parallel to the Palestinians’.

Following Horton’s remarks, NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research institute which monitors non-governmental organizations, said in a statement that it is “urgent that the July 2014 “An Open Letter for the People of Gaza” be removed from The Lancet’s website and a formal retraction and apology be published prominently, both on the website and the next hard copy issue.”

NGO Monitor also called on The Lancet to “undertake positive initiatives to accurately inform the medical community of Israel’s contributions to medicine, as well as the close cooperation that takes place between different sectors of the population.”

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