UN propagates Israeli organ theft allegation

This is a cross-post from Just Journalism

UN propagates Israeli organ theft allegation

The International Organization for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), a Libyan-founded non-governmental organization, has submitted a document to the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council–the body that commissioned the Goldstone Report, which alleged Israel was guilty of war crimes in Gaza–to investigate allegations that ‘Israeli physicians, Medical Centres, rabbis and the Israeli army’ may be stealing the organs of ‘dead, kidnapped and killed’ Palestinians for sale on the black market. The document has been circulated by the Human Rights Council as Agenda item 7 for the body’s thirteenth session (A/HRC/13/NGO/23), and although it has been covered by the Jerusalem Post and Canada’s National Post, no British media outlet has so far reported on it.

EAFORD was accredited as an NGO by the UN in 1981, and its focus, judging by its website and publications, is on equating Zionism with racism and South African apartheid.

Its present submission had been screened for publication by the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a post currently held by Navanethem Pillay, and granted the certified logo of the United Nations.

By way of introduction, EAFORD accuses Israel of ‘ethnic cleansing and massacres’ against the Palestinians, ‘occupy[ing] the rest of Palestine,’ creating ‘largest open-air prison in the world,’ whose ‘consequences amount to an act of siege and economic genocide.’

EAFORD then proceeds to state the following:

‘It is the turn of the dead, kidnapped and killed Palestinians. Their human organs, as reported in the press, can be a source of immense wealth through illegal trafficking in the world market. Israeli physicians, Medical Centres, rabbis and the Israeli army may to be involved, according to reports published in the Swedish press and criminal investigations in the United States. After Israeli physicians remove organs they think marketable, the soldiers bury the bodies in graves that carry only numbers and no names, or place them in sealed caskets and deliver them under curfew conditions to the families and supervise the digging of the graves and burial.’

The document went on to call for an international boycott of Israeli doctors and medical centres, for UN Secretary General Kai Ban Moon to refer the allegation to the UN Security Council and the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court of Justice, and for the Human Rights Council to authorize its Special Fact Finding Commission to investigate Israel’s supposed organ theft.

The basis for EAFORD’s accusation is the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet’s August 28, 2009 article entitled ‘Our sons are plundered of their organs’ in which writer Donald Bostrom suggested that Israeli soldiers were killing Palestinians in the West Bank for the purpose of organ theft and sale within Israel. Bostrom wrote:

‘We know that Israel has a great need for organs, that there is a vast and illegal trade of organs which has been running for many years now, that the authorities are aware of it and that doctors in managing positions at the big hospitals participate, as well as civil servants at various levels. We also know that young Palestinian men disappeared, that they were brought back after five days, at night, under tremendous secrecy, stitched back together after having been cut from abdomen to chin.’

Bostrom later appeared on CNN to say that he had no proof of any of the outrageous insinuations made in his article and relied solely on testimony of Palestinians. Nevertheless, his story was picked up and recycled on leading Arab news channels such as Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, prompting at least one fabricated report, in Algerian daily El-Khabar, that Interpol had uncovered a ‘Jewish gang’ said to be ‘involved in the abduction of children from Algeria and trafficking of their organs.’

In reporting on the UN’s certification of what the EAFORD document, the National Post noted that the Human Rights Council is complicit in the document’s composition: ‘In contrast to what the UN reviewers approved for the EAFORD statement, they told UN Watch [a Geneva-based group that monitors the UN for its perceived bias against Israel] recently not to use the word "regime" when referring to the governments of Sudan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Zimbabwe because it would offend those countries, said Hillel Neuer, the group’s executive director.’

It is remarkable that the UN’s circulation of EAFORD’s document has not been cited by the British press insofar as the ‘Israeli organ theft’ allegation was cited by Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was quoted in the Palestine Telegraph newspaper, of which she is a patron, reaffirming the need for Israel to establish an inquiry into claims that its human relief workers in post-earthquake Haiti had harvested victims’ organs for use in Israeli transplants. Baroness Tonge’s statement were widely reported in the UK, as was the consequence of it: She was sacked as the Liberal Democrats health spokesperson in the House of Lords in light of what Nick Clegg, the party’s leader, described as her ‘unacceptable comments.’