The editor of the British medical journal The Lancet, which ran an open letter accusing Israel of a “massacre” in Gaza, is visiting Israel.
On Tuesday, Richard Horton visited the Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where he was scheduled to meet with senior researchers and physicians there as well as the Technion’s Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine.
“The purpose of Horton’s visit is to provide a venue for academic discussions and meetings in Israel’s multicultural medical institutions that have strong medical cooperation agreements with the Palestinian Authority to treat people from the West Bank and Gaza,” Rambam said in a statement. “Some of the lectures and discussions will also examine the limits and appropriateness of freedom of political opinion in scientific journals, and openly consider and discuss the unilateralism of which The Lancet has been accused.”
The letter to the people of Gaza was published in The Lancet during this summer’s conflict in the strip between Israel and Hamas, called Operation Protective Edge. 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.
“The trip will not provide Horton immunity from the justifiable moral outrage of Israelis, the Jewish community, and medical professionals,” said Yitzhak Santis, an official with the media watchdog NGO Monitor. “Nor will it absolve Horton of his responsibility to correct his politicized, non-scientific editorial distortions. If he cannot do so, he should resign.”
NGO Monitor last week unearthed evidence tying two of the letters’ authors to support for white supremacist David Duke.
“I don’t honestly see what all this has to do with the Gaza letter,” Horton told the British newspaper the Telegraph. “I have no plans to retract the letter, and I would not retract the letter even if it was found to be substantiated.”