Professors for Israel try to Shut Down Lancet
By Jonathan Cook
April 23, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - Academia is far from the bastion
of free thinking and free speech it would like to claim for itself, as a newly
confected “row” involving the leading medical journal The Lancet confirms.
Recently Southampton University in the UK caved in on hosting
an important conference examining Israel and international law, following an
intensive campaign of intimidation from Israeli apologists.
Now some 400 medical professors are blackmailing Reed
Elsevier, publishers of The Lancet, by threatening to boycott its publications
unless the company sacks editor Richard Horton – or as they duplicitously phrase
it, “enforce appropriate ethical standards of editorship”.
By refusing to publish papers or peer review them, the
professors, including five Nobel winners, hope Reed Elsevier will capitulate
from fear that such a boycott might bring it to its knees.
Why target Horton? Because he has committed the cardinal sin
of transforming what was once a sleepy academic publication into a journal
dealing seriously with global health issues, including – and here’s the rub –
reporting on the medical implications for Palestinians of Israel’s occupation,
especially its attack on Gaza last summer.
According to the eminent professors, this is “stereotypical
extremist hate propaganda” and “dishonest and malicious material that incites
hatred and violence”.
What the professors would like is for The Lancet to follow the
medical establishment’s traditional Three Wise Monkeys approach: they see, hear
and speak no evil when it comes to Israel’s oppression of Palestinians,
including its documented
torture, even of children, in its prisons, overseen by Israeli doctors.
Much is at stake here. Very gradually, the space to have an
honest and critical debate about Israel is opening up in places where once it
was almost impossible, including in the media, in academia and even among the
conservative medical community. Those committed to protecting Israel at all
costs are desperate to shut down those spaces. It is important that we don’t let
There are signs that the apologists’ hand is weakening. Note
that Southampton University was so incapable of justifying its decision to shut
down the conference on academic or ethical grounds, it was forced to lie and
claim that, despite
police assurances that they could cope with any protests, the conference
could not go ahead because of “safety concerns”.
Therefore, we should support Horton and The Lancet and make
sure Reed Elsevier understands that there is also a price to pay if it
capitulates to the authoritarian professors. It is good to see that a rival set
of medical academics has already written to Reed Elsevier in support of Horton
and The Lancet here.
Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner
of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.