Terminally Ill: Medical Journal Infected With Anti-Israel Bias

The UK medical journal, The Lancet, has returned to its annual Israel-bashing issue exploring health conditions in the Palestinian territories.

Last year, the journal employed active supporters of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel as supposedly expert commentators on the situation, which earned it a 2010 Dishonest Reporter Award. Lancet editor Richard Horton even posted a snide response aimed at HonestReporting.

This year, it has, for the most part, toned down the politics in favor of medical analysis.

One article, however, shows that the Lancet has not dropped its political campaign against Israel. This standout piece, highlighted by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, deals with “Childbirth at checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territory“. As Richard Horton puts it in his overview of the reports:

A legal analysis of the evidence of denial of free movement for Palestinian women in labour and the consequences for their children supports the conclusion that Israel’s policy “is consistent with the criteria for crimes against humanity”.

While we do not question that the need for IDF checkpoints may very well affect freedom of movement to the detriment of the Palestinian population, we do take serious issue with the highly politicized interpretations of the article’s author Halla Shoaibi:

The denial of passage to Palestinian women in labour, resulting in increased numbers of childbirths at checkpoints and en route to the hospital, is consistent with the criteria for crimes against humanity in accordance with article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – ie, “other inhuman acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health”, and meets with the presence of “widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population”. Further research is needed to assess whether and how such a case could be made to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

We can save Shoaibi the need for further research. The accusation above contends that Israeli forces are causing suffering to pregnant women with intent to do so. This is an absurd and particularly vicious canard that purposely ignores the reasons behind Israeli checkpoints in the first place and promotes a view of Israeli soldiers as being inherently evil.

Shoaibi fails to mention the well-documented Palestinian abuse of ambulances and medical facilities to transport and harbor terrorists. And what about female Palestinian suicide bombers disguising themselves as pregnant women?

The Lancet’s absurd and unsupportable conclusion that Israel is intentionally trying to harm pregnant Palestinian women is a form of demonization that crosses the line from reasonable criticism, especially from a medical journal. Perhaps it is really The Lancet that is intentionally trying to harm Israel’s image in the world arena and the medical profession. At the very least, the credibility of this supposedly respectable journal continues to be harmed by its exploitation of medical research to serve a narrow political goal.

If you are a certified medical professional, please administer a dose of medicine by sending your considered comments to The Lancet’s Ombudsman, Charles Warlow – ombudsman@lancet.com

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