Israeli Docs Mobilize Against anti-Israel Letter in The Lancet

Open letter accused Israel of masquerading a massacre.

Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati
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Ichilov's Gad Keren in 2011.
Ichilov's Gad Keren in 2011.Credit: Moti Milrod
Ido Efrati
Ido Efrati

Members of Israel’s medical establishment are mobilizing against an open letter published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, which denounced Israel’s “aggression” in Gaza.

The letter’s five authors, writing in behalf of 24 signatories, ask colleagues to join in their denouncement.

“We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called ‘defensive aggression,’ they wrote. “In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity.” The authors also criticized Israeli academics’ lack of opposition to Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

Professor Gad Keren, director of the cardiology department at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, called upon the heads of Israel’s academic and medical professions to come out publicly against the open letter in The Lancet.

“This respected journal has begun in recent years to take political positions, particularly regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It has demonstrated incitement and bias against the State of Israel in a one-sided, tendentious manner,” he said.

Professor Keren stated, “The recent campaign stating that Israel commits war crimes in Gaza is an ugly, one-sided attack on a topic that it is not its role to deal with at all. This is a new peak of lies about the Israeli army and the State of Israel being spread by the journal that has mounted a harsh attack on Israel, which, as has been stated, is acting only to protect its citizens from attacks by a terrorist group.”

He took the letter to task for containing “not one word of criticism against a cruel terrorist organization that is firing rockets at Israel and excavating tunnels underneath Israeli communities and kibbutzim.”

Keren then called upon “Israel’s medical establishment, Israeli academia and all physicians in Israel to respond with great severity from every possible platform, refute the campaign and denounce the journal for its one-sided action, which has no parallel in scientific journalism anywhere else in the academic world.” He warned not to disregard the letter because the journal is so widely circulated and read by the world’s best scientists and physicians.

“Rather, we must defend the reputation of Israel and the Israeli army, which is the most moral army on earth, throughout the world,” he added.

Professor Zvi Ram, director of the neurosurgery department at Ichilov Hospital, wrote a response to the letter, in which he stressed that he sympathized “with the cry to stop war and suffering on all sides” as a physician, father and grandfather, but challenged the authors to engage in dialogue.

“I am not blind to the subjectivity of every ‘objective’ information we (including the authors) are fed, and in turn voice out,” he wrote. “I also recognize the cynicism of politics and accept, with dismay, the reality that we are often simple pawns in the hands of global, corporate and religious interests far stronger than we can ever imagine.”

He then encouraged the letter’s authors and their supporters to offer a solution to the Gaza crisis. “Apparently, this impasse calls for a miraculous and ingenious thinking, and I, as well as many on both sides of the conflict, would be grateful to hear it and plead with our leaders to adopt such course,” he wrote.

“Accepting the Hamas Charter for annihilation of the Jews and the state of Israel is strangely not a very appealing option. I am looking forward for a constructive and fair discussion.”

The Lancet, which was established in 1823, is considered one of the most important journals in the fields of science and medicine. The open letter criticized the siege of Gaza that has Gaza’s inhabitants to suffer “from hunger, thirst, air pollution, medicine shortages and difficulty earning a livelihood” as well as “fuel and electricity shortages and poor living conditions.” It also praised efforts by Gazans despite “the difficult conditions” to “resolve their conflicts ‘without arms and harm’ through the process of reconciliation between factions, their leadership renouncing titles and positions, so that a unity government can be formed abolishing the divisive factional politics operating since 2007.”

They added, “The massacre in Gaza spares no one, and includes the disabled and sick in hospitals, children playing on the beach or on the roof top, with a large majority of non-combatants. Hospitals, clinics, ambulances, mosques, schools, and press buildings have all been attacked, with thousands of private homes bombed, clearly directing fire to target whole families killing them within their homes, depriving families of their homes by chasing them out a few minutes before destruction.”

The authors denounced “the myth propagated by Israel that the aggression is done caring about saving civilian lives and children’s wellbeing.”

They expressed dismay that “only 5% of our Israeli academic colleagues signed an appeal to their government to stop the military operation against Gaza. They added, “We are tempted to conclude that with the exception of this 5%, the rest of the Israeli academics are complicit in the massacre and destruction of Gaza.”

The authors did not limit their criticism to their Israeli colleagues, however, “We also see the complicity of our countries in Europe and North America in this massacre and the impotence once again of the international institutions and organisations to stop this massacre,” they wrote.



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