ZOA Criticizes World-Renowned Lancet Medical Journal for Promoting Anti-Israel Propaganda
April 23, 2009

ZOA sends formal letter to Lancet

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the medical journal, The Lancet, published in Britain, for permitting itself to become a vehicle of vicious and hateful anti-Israeli propaganda by, among others, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton. ZOA has laid out its objections in detail to the Lancet in a letter signed by National President Morton A. Klein, National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt, Executive Committee Chairman Dr. Alan Mazurek and Treasurer Henry Schwartz. ZOA has been particularly critical of the fact that The Lancet, as a world renowned and arguably the most important professional medical journal, has chosen to publish articles that scarcely touch on issues of professional medical relevance but rather seek to turn the dysfunctional Palestinian state of Palestinian health services into a cane for beating Israel.

False claims and distortions contained in Lancet articles:

Jimmy Carter, ‘Peace and health in the occupied Palestinian territory,’ The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9666, Pages 783 – 784, 7 March 2009):

  • Jimmy Carter castigated Israel for having agreed in the 1979 Camp David negotiations to “withdraw its political and military forces from Palestinian territory and grant the Palestinians full autonomy over their own affairs. This… has been consistently violated.” [ZOA: In fact, the Camp David autonomy provisions were a dead letter because, as President Carter knows, the Palestinians, under the leadership of PLO leader Yasser Arafat, refused categorically at the time to do have any part in any negotiations with Israel. Arafat also declared at the time that Egyptian President Sadat’s destiny was to be assassinated, for having signed peace with Israel. In 1993, Israel took PLO claims of fresh moderation at face value, empowered the PLO, established the Palestinian Authority (PA) and handed over territory, assets, funds and even arms to the PA, only to get a terror war and incitement to hatred and murder in return].

  • “There has been no [Israeli] withdrawal from the West Bank and the Palestinians here and in the Gaza Strip have been increasingly strangled. ” [ZOA: As a result of the Oslo process, Israel withdrew from half of Judea and Samaria and all Gaza, handing over both to the PA].

  • “The 18-month blockade and recent Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas on earth.” [ZOA: Carter did not mention the seven years of prolonged and constantly increasing rocket attacks from Gaza that precipitated Israel’s military operations. Carter also simply ignores, or is simply ignorant or misleading, with regard to basic facts about Gaza: In 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2008 Statistical Abstract, the Gaza population totaled 1,429,000, with a density of 10,665 per square mile. That makes Gaza less densely populated than Gibraltar, Singapore, Hong Kong, Monaco or Macau. Macau (population 453,000 – 42,271 per square mile) is four times more densely populated than the Gaza Strip.]

Richard Horton, ‘The occupied Palestinian territory: peace, justice, and health,’ Issue 966, The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9666, Pages 784 – 788, 7 March 2009:

  • “The people of the Palestinian territory matter, most importantly, because their lives and communities are continuing to experience an occupation that has produced chronic de-development for nearly 4 million people over many decades.” [ZOA: The vast majority of Palestinians – 98 percent – live under territory controlled by either the Palestinian Authority (PA) or Hamas and cannot be said to be occupied by Israel, which exercises no jurisdiction over these territories. More importantly, these territories improved economically under Israel occupation and seven universities were established. They began deteriorating only with the onset of PA rule during the Oslo process. In contrast, under previous Jordanian and Egyptian occupation, the average Palestinian income just prior to the 1967 war was 75 U.S. cents per day and no universities were functioning. The failure to record these facts and their substitution with a claim of decades of chronic de-development is simply a way of blaming Israel for the socio-economic plight of Palestinians and ignoring the Palestinian rejection of Israel that has precipitated war and violence].

  • “…the future of Palestinians also matters because of the continued conflict with Israel, the failure of the peace process to make any substantial progress, and the internally catastrophic and violent divisions within Palestinian politics. These characteristics are, in the words of one respected commentator, ‘the oldest and most powerful driver of discontent, disequilibrium, and radicalism in our region’ [ZOA: This is simply the uncritical recycling of the false, politicized argument the Palestinian issue, or the Arab-Israeli conflict, is the source of all or most other regional strife. In fact, most political and military conflicts in the region – the Syrian attempts to control Lebanon; the Sunni-Shia divide, the persecution of Coptic Christian in Egypt, the strife in Iraq, the deterioration in Afghanistan, to name a few – are often of older origin and proceed independently of the war waged by Arabs against Zionism and later Israel. The failure of the peace process to make progress is due to the non-acceptance of Israel that underlines the Palestinian position and the peace process cannot be an end in and of itself until and unless the Palestinian position changes to acceptance and interest in peace].

  • “The prison-like cage built around Gaza, the daily humiliations for women, children, and workers passing through checkpoints, the paralysis of the West Bank caused by occupation, the obstacles imposed on communities trying to build schools, clinics, and homes for their children is a daily reality that any visitor will witness and which goes largely unreported in western media” [ZOA: Gaza is a piece of territory that is controlled by a hostile power, Hamas, which is dedicated in its Charter to the destruction of Israel (Article 15) and the murder of Jews (Article 7). Israel is perfectly at liberty to seal its borders, though it has not done so – it has merely controlled the flow of certain supplies into Gaza which it is not bound to supply. The daily humiliations like checkpoints are an inescapable consequence of the terror war waged, with Palestinian public approval, against Israel: an end to Palestinian terror would permit these restrictions to end. Prior to the Palestinian terror offensive beginning in 2000, such restrictions were not imposed. Horton’s commentary is part of the propaganda campaign designed to impugn Israel in the court of international public opinion].

Prof Rita Giacaman, Rana Khatib, Luay Shabaneh, Asad Ramlawi, Belgacem Sabri, Guido Sabatinelli, Prof Marwan Khawaja, Tony Laurance, ‘Health status and health services in the occupied Palestinian territory,’ The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9666, Pages 837 – 849, 7 March 2009:

  • “40 years of Israeli military occupation. Although health, literacy, and education currently have a higher standard in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory than they have in several Arab countries, 52% of families (40% in the West Bank and 74% in the Gaza Strip) were living below the poverty line of US$3·15 per person per day in 2007.

  • “We emphasise the complexity of factors that contribute to Palestinian health and health-system problems: ongoing colonisation—ie, continued land confiscation and the building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land; fragmentation of communities and land; acute and constant insecurities; routine violations of human rights; poor governance and mismanagement in the Palestinian National Authority; and dependence on international aid for resources. These and other factors have distorted and fragmented the Palestinian health system and adversely affected population health.” [ZOA: It is simply politicized propaganda to contend that a fictitious on-going occupation lies at the root of Palestinian problems: Palestinian violent non-acceptance of Israel lies at the heart of Palestinian problems, not the consequences of that violent non-acceptance – war, refugees, past occupation, Israeli security measures, and so on. Nor is private land confiscated for Jewish homes or communities: state land or legally purchased land is used for building such homes and communities. By stating otherwise, the authors clearly endorse the racist and radical Palestinian demand that Judea and Samaria be judenrein.]

  • “The term Palestinians refers to the people who lived in British Mandate Palestine before 1948, when the state of Israel was established, and their descendants.” [ZOA: This is an outright historical falsehood: the term ‘Palestinians’ was only adopted in recent decades the describe Arabs living in the former British Mandate. During the Mandate, it was only Palestinian Jews who called themselves Palestinians and gave that name to their institutions, like the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the Palestine Post, the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra, and so on].

  • “As documented by several Israeli historians, more than three-quarters of the Palestinian population were forcibly dispossessed and expelled between 1947 and 1949, becoming refugees in neighbouring Arab states. This traumatic situation—called the nakba (or catastrophe) by Palestinians—is engrained in the collective memory, and is still felt by third-generation refugees, especially those living in refugee camps. Since then, Palestinian identity has been reinforced through resistance to dispossession and extinction” [ZOA: The only sources cited are two vehemently partisan, anti-Zionist historians, Avi Shlaim and Baruch Kimmerling. Even so called Israeli “new historian” Benny Morris, who pioneered much of the current discourse on Palestinian refugees, demonstrated that only about a third of the Palestinian refugees were forced to leave by Israeli forces, not all or even a majority. The so-called nakba was a self-induced disaster, born of a Palestinian decision to abort the birth of Israel in embryo. In short, Palestinian suffering was self-inflicted: No Arab declaration of war and invasion of a lawfully established Israel, no conflict and thus no refugees. Once you have determined responsibility for that war you have determined responsibility for the Palestinian refugees. Also, there is no such thing, except in the dishonest parlance of Palestinian apologia, as “third-generation refugees”. Refugees, by definition, are people who fled or were forced to flee their homes or country by war or coercion. Their children, wherever they may be born, are not considered refugees under international law. The sole exception in which such people are referred to as refugees is the Palestinian case, where an entirely separate body from the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), was established with the explicit aim of perpetuating the refugee status of one group and all their descendents – Palestinians – rather than solving it through resettlement, as in the case of all other refugee problems. The offensive reference to Palestinians allegedly resisting “dispossession and extinction” is a scandalous, poisonous defamation of Israel with an utterly false charge of genocide.]

  • “At present, about 4·5 million Palestinians are refugees from the 1948 Arab—Israeli war and their descendants are registered by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. [ZOA: Having already, endorsed the distorted definition of Palestinian refugees to include all their descendants, the writers contradictorily speak here of 4.5 million refugees on UNRWA rolls today and in the next breath speak of the descendants of refugees. This is simply sloppy or sinister ambiguity that insinuates the idea that the Palestinian refugees today number many millions.]

  • “1948: First Arab—Israeli war. Creation of Israel on most of British Mandate of Palestine, with two-thirds of Palestinians forcibly dispossessed and dispersed, and made into refugees in neighbouring Arab countries.” [ZOA: In the timeline provided by the writers, the events of 1948 are presented in an Orwellian fashion, whereby the original Arab declared intention to wipe Israel from the map and assault upon Israel on the morning of its independence is expunged from the record, and only a distorted description of the forced dispossession and dispersal of Palestinians resulting from that Arab-initiated war mentioned.

  • 1967: Arab—Israeli war. Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank, including Palestinian Arab East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) and parts of Syria.” [ZOA: Again, the original Arab aggression of blockading Israel’s only southern port of Eilat, the dismissal of UN observers from Sinai and the return of massed Egyptian forces to this demilitarized zone, and the unprovoked Jordan and Syrian assaults upon Israel are simply not mention. All that is stated are the consequences of that unsuccessful Arab aggression].

  • 2000: Interim political solution exploded with the second Palestinian uprising, fuelled by widespread discontent with the failure of the Oslo Accords to address accelerating Israeli confiscation and colonisation of Palestinian lands in defiance of international law, and by the shortcomings of the Palestinian National Authority.” [ZOA: A further jaundiced and false description of events is provided that wholly ignores the bad faith of Yasser Arafat and his PA; the building-up of terrorist militias with the PA; the incitement to hatred and murder within the PA media, mosques, schools and youth camps, contrary to PA commitments under the Oslo agreements; the corruption and waste by the PA leadership of massive international aid; and finally, the failure of Arafat and the PA to accept the Clinton peace plan or even make a counter-proposal to it and their deliberate reversion to terror and confrontation in 2000. Nor did Oslo fail to allegedly “address accelerating Israeli confiscation and colonization of Palestinian lands”: Israel made no commitment in the Oslo agreements to uprooting Jewish communities or preventing their natural growth and cannot therefore have “failed” to do so. Nor is it illegal under international law for Jews to live anywhere, least of all in the biblical, religious and historic heartland of the Jewish people, earmarked by the League of Nations for the reconstitution of a Jewish National Home.]

  • “2002: Israel’s military incursions of the West Bank, and the ransacking of several Palestinian ministries and institutions, including the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education, various other research and cultural institutions, and radio and television stations.” [ZOA: Once again, the original aggression against Israel is not mentioned – the suicide bombing terror campaign launched by Arafat in September 2000, culminating in 130 Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists in March 2002, at which point Israel launched major military operations that have succeeded to the present day in drastically reducing Palestinian terror attacks from the West Bank.]

  • “2006—08: Democratic election of Islamic Hamas to majority in the Palestinian National Authority. Israel and key western states responded by boycotting its administration. Diplomatic ties and international donor funding were cut, and Israel withheld Palestinian tax revenues, which together form about 75% of the budget of the Palestinian National Authority. Israeli military closure policies intensified, and fragmentation continued to be reinforced. By February, 2008, and after the Annapolis summit, the closure system was tightened even further and included over 600 checkpoints and barriers erected by the Israeli military on roads to restrict Palestinian movement, compared with about 518 such barriers to movement in 2006. [ZOA: Almost every statement here is inaccurate. The Palestinian plot is not democratic one that allows any moderation with regard to Israel, with the result that only extreme groups which favor Israel’s destruction and terrorism contested elections. Furthermore, such extremism reflects majority Palestinian opinion, as innumerable Palestinian polls over the years show. No mention is made here or elsewhere in this article that Hamas does not merely reject Israel’s existence or refuses to renounce terrorism but also calls in its Charter for a genocide of the Jews, yet the authors believe that a government headed by a genocidal movement should be accepted. International aid to the Palestinians has increased since Hamas’ victory in the 2006 legislative elections, with the U.S. having given an unprecedented $700 million to the PA in 2008. Many Israeli checkpoints were removed since Annapolis under pressure from the bush Administration, despite the absence of any Palestinian reform or counter-terrorist efforts.]

  • November, 2008 to January, 2009: The truce with Hamas is broken (Nov 4, 2008). Israel invades Gaza Strip (Dec 27, 2008). Destruction of infrastructure and buildings, including homes, universities, schools, clinics, mosques, and welfare organisations. Hundreds of civilians are killed and thousands injured, intensifying Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.” [ZOA: Another Orwellian inversion: the truce with Hamas was not broken by Israel, but violated by Hamas throughout. During the so-called truce, 223 Missiles were fired into Israel. The subsequent destruction of Palestinian infrastructure and buildings was a direct result of Hamas’ violation of international law by embedding its personnel and weaponry in government offices, hospitals, universities and civilian homes. (For example, the laboratories of the Islamic University in Gaza were used to manufacture and store explosives). The death of Gazan civilians resulted directly from these practices. Such embedding of military forces and weaponry in civilians areas by Hamas constitutes a war crime; once used in this manner, international law designates such buildings as legitimate targets, subject only to the need for Israelis to exercise care not to cause avoidable harm to civilians in targeting these sites. The Gazan fatalities were approximately in the ratio of 1 civilian to 3 combatants – a far better result from a humanitarian point of view than, for example, the 1999 NATO campaign against Serbia, which produced a ratio of 3 civilians for each combatant.]

  • “The uprising was fuelled by widespread discontent, on the one hand for the shortcomings of the authority, and on the other for the acceleration of Israeli confiscation and colonisation of Palestinian lands in defiance of international laws.25 These developments undermined an already fragile system of public services, including health services.” [ZOA: Another falsehood: The Oslo process did not obligate Israel to prevent Jews from living in Judea and Samaria or to constrict the growth of existing communities, so was consequently not in defiance of law or treaty obligations.]

  • “Since 2000, life for Palestinians has become much harder, more dangerous, and less secure. Under the justification of protecting Israelis from Palestinian violence, a massive wall is being constructed between Israel and the West Bank, incorporating areas of the West Bank into Israel, and hundreds of Israeli military checkpoints have been established accompanied by curfews, invasions, detentions, the use of lethal force against civilians, land confiscations, and house demolitions, all of which have made ordinary life almost impossible. These events entail the systematic collective punishment of the Palestinian population living in the occupied Palestinian territory.” [ZOA: Israeli security measures are a consequence of Palestinian terrorism and can be ended when Palestinian terrorism ends. Prior to 2000, there were few curfews, checkpoints and the like. Lethal force has been used against terrorists, not civilians and it only on account of the use of civilian areas by terror groups that Palestinian civilians have been inadvertently harmed in hostilities. These measures are the minimum that have been used by other states facing terrorism and are legitimate measures in such circumstances. The only people collectively punished are Israeli civilians bombarded by over 5,000 missiles in eight years, fired indiscriminately and with intention to harm by Palestinian terrorists.]

  • “A separation wall or fence surrounds Gaza and, since the takeover by Hamas, Israel has maintained a strict siege, with people and goods allowed in or out only for essential humanitarian purposes.” [ZOA: Gaza is a define territory which borders Israel and Egypt. Israel is under no legal or moral obligation to maintain open borders with any neighboring regime, least of all with Hamas, one that is terroristic and dedicated to its destruction and the murder of Jews. Nor is under any legal or moral obligation to supply fuel, electricity or other resources, though it has continued to do so, any more than the United States was bound to supply German or Japanese belligerents with vital supplies during world War Two.]

  • “In the occupied Palestinian territory, violence includes chronic exposure to humiliation, which is associated with negative mental health” [ZOA: This claim is frivolous in its vagueness. Humiliation, if defined as being subject to legitimate Israeli security measures like road blocks and checkpoints, are a necessary element in the effort to protect the lives of Israeli civilians targeted deliberately by terrorists. War involves many hardships and Israel cannot be reasonably expected to forfeit these security measure so Palestinians feel less aggrieved.]

  • “Our account of Palestinian health under Israeli military occupation—the longest occupation in modern history—also calls for the protection of the basic human rights of Palestinians, in compliance with the Geneva Conventions, including the right to justice and to health.” [ZOA: The Palestinian-controlled territories cannot logically be described as occupied, nor is the past Israeli occupation the longest in modern history. For example, Tibet has been brutally occupied by China since 1959 and its inhabitants subjected to massacre and dispersion, even though Tibetans have never posed any threat to China or engaged in terrorism against Chinese civilians. Israel has applied the terms of the Geneva Conventions to territories under its control. The authors reference to a “right to justice and health” is amorphous and meaningless, inasmuch as the Palestinians continue to wage war against an Israel whose rights to simple existence it has never honored.]

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “It is deeply problematic that a distinguished medical journal like the Lancet would see fit to publish anti-Israel propaganda that is couched in terms of expression of concern for Palestinian health services. In addition to the distortions and falsehoods that liberally pepper the articles by Jimmy Carter and Richard Horton and the medical professionals, even the short piece by Iain Chalmers, Jennifer Leaning, Harry S Shannon and Huda Zurayk includes a photo of a damaged building described as the Al-Quds Hospital – an institution that suffered in fact only some minor damage during the recent Gaza fighting and which was functioning again within days, whereas the building depicted is not in fact the hospital, but another building that is adjacent to it.

“Such distortions and falsifications as we have pointed to here are simply unacceptable propaganda and should appear in no reputable publication, let alone a foremost professional medical journal, where an absence of political bias is even more readily assumed and thus the capacity to mislead through propaganda even greater. Were this naked propaganda and falsehood appearing in the op-ed pages of a newspaper, it would still be unfortunate and misleading, but in the nature of things, to be expected at least occasionally. That is appears in a leading journal of medicine however is an inexcusable breach of trust and professionalism for which the Lancet must makes amends and publish an unreserved apology.

“The obligation is on The Lancet to retract these articles and commission pieces that provide a genuinely de-politicized and accurate accounts of the issues ostensibly addressed in this issue of The Lancet and which do not exclude from their ambit the on-going war waged against Israel’s existence which alone explains why the Palestinian-controlled territories continue to be mired in poverty and hardship.”

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