The editor of Britain’s leading medical journal has visited Israel and said he deeply regrets the controversy caused by his stance on a series of letters it published about the Gaza conflict.
Lancet editor Dr Richard Horton said he had been “horrified” to learn that some authors of the letter had also sent private emails which included antisemitic conspiracy theory videos.
The Lancet had initially published an open letter “for the people of Gaza” signed by 24 senior medics in July, condemning Israel’s military action.
Speaking at the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa, Dr Horton said: “I deeply regret the completely unnecessary polarisation that publication of the letter caused.
“I was personally horrified at the offensive video that was forwarded by two of the authors of that letter.
“The world view expressed in that video is abhorrent and must be condemned, and I condemn it.”
He said he was proud and humbled to have visited the Haifa centre and promised that the Lancet would provide Israeli doctors with the chance to explain their country’s medical prowess.
Dr Horton said his three-day visit to Israel had been a “turning point for me and my relationship with this region”, and promised to support new medical and academic collaborations with Israeli medics.
He visited Nahariya’s Western Galilee Hospital and took part in debates with Israeli doctors on the mixing of politics and medicine. As well as meeting Arab Israeli doctors, Dr Horton met physicians who had treated Israeli and Palestinian casualties in the Gaza conflict.
Although Dr Horton had published responses to the original letter, after the allegations of antisemitism emerged he refused to withdraw the letter, claiming instead that the Lancet had been the target of a smear campaign.
He was due to publish his Rambam speech in the latest edition of the journal this week.