Swedish FM Carl Bildt:
Antisemitism in Sweden? Naaaah
Just a pinch of denial will do it
The Tundra Tabloids has reported much about the Aftenbladet’s blood libel against the Jewish state of Israel, and highly reccomends Makael Tossavainen’s exhaustive account and anlaysis of the entire, sordid affair. KGS
The Swedish media tends to be biased against Israel in its reporting from the Middle East. Nevertheless, the Swedish mainstream media is generally free of anti-Semitism. However, the summer of 2009 offered one of the rare exceptions when the country’s largest daily, the tabloid Aftonbladet, published an article that stirred reactions beyond the limited Swedish public discourse.
The Publication and Content of the Article
On 17 August 2009, the culture section of Aftonbladet published an article by Donald Boström under the headline “Våra söner plundras på sina organ” (“Our Sons Are Plundered of Their Organs”).
The article begins with a recent scandal in New Jersey, where poor Israelis were convinced to come to the United States to sell their kidneys to rich Americans in need of a transplant. The article then mentions a lack of organ donors in Israel, and claims that other countries shun Israel for its alleged unethical organ-donation policies. It then talks about a campaign to increase the number of donors in 1992, initiated by then-Health Minister Ehud Olmert.
Boström goes on to recount how a young Palestinian man, wanted for terrorism, was shot dead soon after the launch of the donation campaign in 1992, and how his body was returned a few days later to his family for burial. Boström then claims there are rumors that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) kills Palestinians and uses their organs for transplants – in collusion with the Israeli medical establishment. The article ends by saying it is time to look into this macabre activity, and urges the Israelis to investigate the allegations.
In other words, Boström never outright asserts that Israel does any of these heinous things; he just reports rumors. But the picture he paints is highly suggestive, conjuring up images reminiscent of medieval blood libels. Furthermore, the fact that Boström had already published these allegations in 2001 in a book called Inshallah: Konflikten mellan Israel och Palestina (Inshallah: The Conflict between Israel and Palestine), and the only new development offering an excuse to republish them was the organ-trade scandal in the United States – which connected an American Jew to the Jewish state – underpins the anti-Semitic framing of the whole story.
Andrea Levin of the media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) enumerated the many factual errors, omissions, and false linkages that mar Boström’s article. To begin with, regarding Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, whose funeral Boström witnessed in 1992, Levin pointed out that Boström characterized him as a mere “stone thrower.” In fact, Ghanem was wanted for participation in violent attacks on Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. Many of those who were tortured and murdered by Palestinians like Ghanem were medical staff and others who in their line of work were in contact with Israelis. Levin notes that some Palestinians even used allegations of collaboration as a way to settle personal scores.
Furthermore, Boström claimed that Ghanem’s family had accused Israel of having robbed him of his organs and that this was part of a larger trend. However, Levin pointed out that when Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh visited the Ghanem family in August 2009 following the publication of Boström’s article, the family denied having made any such allegations to the Swedish reporter.