This is a guest post by Barry Rubin
We are not talking about a Saudi newspaper or Hamas radio station but a Swedish newspaper. We are not talking about a neo-Nazi rag but a daily closely tied to the Swedish Social Democratic Party. And we are not just talking about an obscure item but an article that received top billing.
On August 18, Aftonbladet, which claims 1.5 million readers, published an article by a man named Donald Boström. The editor responsible is named Åsa Linderborg. She is the newspaper’s cultural affairs’ editor.
This was no random decision for her. When asked once: “What do you wish for most in life right now?” She answered: “What a simple question. What I want is a free Palestine.”
And what did this article say? That Israel’s army deliberately kidnaps Palestinian civilians and then murders them so it can cut out and sell their organs to sick people needing transplants.
The story is based on the arrest of a Jewish man in Brooklyn for selling organs but the news coverage has no hint of any Israeli connection.
The Swedish story is based on Palestinian sources (though the author also claims he has UN sources for it)–like so many slanders of Israel which are widely purveyed. It is easy to forget that the false claim of a Jenin massacre–which received massive coverage in the Western media–was based on an interview with a single Palestinian who nobody even knew.
Palestinians simply told him that the bodies of terrorists or others killed came back with organs missing. Any photos, medical records, documented complaints? Of course not.
[Ironically, the Beirut Daily Star has a very responsible article, with no claim of Israeli involvement, on the issue of organ sales.]
At this point you are no doubt thinking: This is some kind of sick joke.
Yes, it is. But the newspaper published it anyway.
Apparently, the author is a left-wing activist for Palestinian causes, though the newspaper calls him a journalist.
[By the way, this is not the first time such accusations have been made. In the Turkish film, “Valley of the Wolves,” Gary Busey played an American Jewish doctor who was stealing the organs of Iraqis for the United States and Israel. Note that the Turkish prime minister praised the film, that it was shown to large Muslim audiences in Holland and elsewhere in Europe, and that a friend who saw it in Syria noticed people crying in the theatre at the sight of such evil behavior. Have no doubt: many thousands of people who saw the film believe this accusation to be true.]
To show how typical this is, Radio Sweden has just broadcast once again the claim that Israel murdered Muhammad Dura, a little boy who may or may not have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli or Fatah bullets. The only proof of these claims was a very suspicious video (other parts of which show Palestinians rehearsing for the show) which a French court has determined to be a fraud. That court decision went unmentioned by Swedish radio.
As Ralph Haglund points out, Swedish journalists are always ready to take the word of Hamas over that of Israel.
Will Swedish politicians, intellectuals, and others rise up, pronounce this a national disgrace, and demonstrate? Will the editor be fired? Will there be serious reconsideration of how the hatred of Israel which has so obsessed this supposedly enlightened country has gone over the edge? Will this irrational hatred be re-examined and repudiated? Will the forgotten lessons of how such attitudes produced the Holocaust be learned once again?
I wish so but I don’t believe there will be a powerful reaction.
At least, though, the competing newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, has blasted the article which it says is an antisemitic blood libel without a shred of evidence. For other brave people who are objecting in Sweden–albeit there are very few of them–go here.
.What does this incident tell us? One thing is that there is no limit to the insanity of how Israel is treated nowadays in so many supposedly responsible, left-wing, and intellectual circles.
It also tells us that anyone of decency and good intentions should start re-examining right now their credulity in accepting anti-Israel slanders, nonsensical media or academic claims, or irresponsibly inaccurate “human rights” group reports.
It also tells us that Jews who criticize Israel based on what they are being taught at universities and what they see in the media need to think about what they are doing. And, yes, all this bashing and chipping away at Israel’s reputation; this unfair blaming; this blindness toward the goals, behavior, and ideology of radical Islamist forces and Palestinian intransigence is promoting an antisemitism beyond anything seen in the Western world since 1945.
The time has come to realize that antisemitism, anti-Zionism, absurd misrepresentation of Israel and the effort to wipe it off the map are all tightly intertwined.
We have seen the rise of a systematic industry in wild anti-Israel claims by Palestinians which are repeated without evidence by the Western news media and others.
Yet this type of story about ghoulish Israeli monsters is actually rather typical nowadays. The basic methodology in the Swedish case is like that of dozens of others, only in this case the specific accusation was too lurid to win wide acceptance in the West (though not in much of the Arabic-speaking and Muslim majority world).
The recipe is simple: Palestinians make up charges, tell them to sympathetic reporters or academics or “human rights'” officials who don’t demand evidence, and then are widely spread through other willing executioners of truth whose low degree of professionalism and high level of politicization make them conducive to becoming collaborators in the enterprise.
Before Israeli officials can investigate and present a detailed response–largely ignored by the media–they are all off to the next lurid accusation.
The fact that none of these accusations is ever ultimately proven correct seems to have no effect on the industry.
In a variation of this theme, a few days ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly denounced, as if it was some sort of ethnic cleansing, the eviction of two Palestinian families from an apartment building in Jerusalem. Apparently, Palestinians had presented it as such to U.S. diplomats in Jerusalem.
In fact, as the public record clearly showed, this was merely the result of an Israeli court decision following a long, detailed case lasting years, for non-payment of rent. Palestinian families who paid rent in the building had no problem at all.
The British newspaper of intellectuals and beautiful people, the Guardian, carries an article which uses this incident, among other things, to claim that Israel is a Nazi country. That’s two families evicted for non-payment of rent, not quite equivalent to seizing Austria and Czechoslovakia, invading all of Europe, and murdering 12 million or so Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Poles, Russians, etc., etc.
In fact, when the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein murdered tens of thousands of Kurdish citizens in the 1990s or when the Syrian regime murdered 10,000 to 15,000 of its own citizens in Hamas in 1982, there was no outrage at all in the West. There still isn’t today.
In his Cairo speech, President Barack Obama urged Arabs and Muslims to reject antisemitism. Guess he needs to make that speech to Europeans now.
After all, the hysterical misrepresentation of Israel increasingly seems to parallel the tales of well-poisonings, ritual murders, and Zionist conspiracies to seize world power of past eras.