Senior Israeli scientist resigns over Lancet’s Gaza letter

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Senior Israeli scientist resigns over Lancet’s Gaza letter

A senior Israeli scientist has resigned from an advisory board of prestigious medical journal ‘Lancet’ and accused the editor of publishing an open letter criticising Israel despite knowing that the authors had conflicts of interest.

The Weizmann Institute of Science, where Prof. Eli Pollak is chairman of the Chemical Physics Dept

Professor Eli Pollak, Sam and Ayala Zacks, Professorial Chair and Chairman of the Chemical Physics Department at the Weizmann Institute of Science (pictured), told bosses at publishing giant Elsevier that he was resigning as a member of the Advisory Editorial Board of Chemical Physics.

In his resignation letter to the publisher’s chairman, chief executive and vice-president, Pollak said he felt saddened that he could no longer lend his name “to an organisation which has failed to uphold minimal ethical standards”.

His forced departure is the latest show of anger from within the medical profession, after the Lancet published “An open letter for the people of Gaza” on 28 July, in the middle of the conflict.

Among the 24 authors were prominent Italian geneticist Prof. Paola Manduca, British health services researcher Sir Iain Chalmers, London psychiatrist Dr. Derek Summerfied, Singaporean medic Swee Ang and Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert.

Several of the authors went to Gaza to volunteer during the fighting, with Ang recalling how she was “taken aside, interrogated in a very humiliating way for three hours, detained, and then deported”.

Prof. Paola Manduca, an eminent Italian geneticist, was one of the 24 signatories

Furthermore, it was later revealed that Manduca and Ang had previously circulated a link to a video clip featuring an anti-Semitic diatribe by David Duke, a white supremacist and former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard.

In the July letter, they wrote: “We challenge the perversity of a propaganda that justifies the creation of an emergency to masquerade a massacre, a so-called ‘defensive aggression’. In reality it is a ruthless assault of unlimited duration, extent, and intensity.”

They also said that the use of gas by the IDF – if proven – would be a war crime and that “high sanctions will have to be taken immediately on Israel with cessation of any trade and collaborative agreements with Europe”.

Pollak is one of several scientists and clinicians to have taken exception to the letter, denouncing the “false facts, half truths and unscientific one‐sidedness” which he said “branded Israel for Nazi-type war crimes, without having a shred of evidence”.

But in his resignation, Pollak went further, accusing the editor of having known about “personal relationships that inappropriately influence (bias) the authors’ actions. “The letter of Manduca et al ended with the statement ‘We declare no competing interests,’” said Pollak.

“This was far from the truth, and the editor of the Lancet must have known this.”

Last week Lancet editor Prof. Richard Horton sought to make amends as he went to Israel to express his “deep regret” to Israeli doctors over the journal’s letter.

Addressing clinicians at the Rambam hospital in Haifa, he said: “I deeply deeply regret the completely unnecessary polarisation that publication of the letter by Paolo Manduca did… this outcome was definitely not my intention.”


Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: