Robert Winston

Lord Robert WInston

A group of prominent scientists backed by Lord Winston have accused a major publisher of “inciting violence” against Jews after one of its publications issued a condemnation of Israel during last year’s war in Gaza.

The complaint was issued to publisher Reed Elsevier, which owns the renowned scientific journal The Lancet, whose editor Richard Horton has apologised for running an “open letter for the people of Gaza” last summer.

Professors and academics from the US, Canada, Australia and Britain joined their counterparts from Israel and beyond to slam the publishing house for “the grossly irresponsible and damaging misuse of The Lancet for political purposes”.

The authors go on to accuse Reed Elsevier of “profiting from the publication of dishonest and malicious material that incites hatred and violence”.

Signed by Prof. Sir Mark Pepys of University College London and backed by fertility expert Lord Winston, the letter is supported by five Nobel Laureates, including Prof. Sir Aaron Klug, a Past President of the Royal Society.

In it, the co-signatories say there has been “no adequate response” to complaints thus far and call on the publisher to retract the “open letter” from June 2014, apologise for its publication and ensure no further repeats of the “malpractice”.

It comes after dozens of esteemed scientists wrote scathingly about Israeli actions during Operation Protective Edge last year. 

Denouncing what they called “Israeli aggression,” the group said: “We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre.” 

The authors of that letter, who said Israeli actions were “a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity,” included several well-known anti-Israel activists, including some who had previously been expelled from Israel.

This week, complainants said co-authors of the “letter to Gaza” had a history of “anti-Semitic” utterances and that the letter’s publication was “a disgraceful paradigm of malignant wilful disregard of honest and ethical medical authorship and editorship”.