Invention of the Body-Snatchers

Gershom Gorenberg

My new article is up at The American Prospect:

invasion of the body snatchersLest there be any misunderstanding: As an Israeli and a Jew, I don’t believe that the current government of Sweden is quasi-Nazi, that all Swedes are anti-Semites, or that I should boycott Ikea, the Swedish furniture firm. At the same time, to remove all doubt, I solemnly declare that I have never been involved in the international trade in organs for transplant. I do feel exceedingly silly bothering to make these denials. But they seem somehow necessary in light of the current Swedish-Israeli tensions, which are a product of egregiously incompetent journalism in a Swedish paper and equally irredeemable diplomacy by Israel in furious response.

Technically speaking, the affair began last week with an article headlined “Our Sons Plundered for Their Organs” that appeared in the back pages of Aftonbladet, a major Swedish paper. Writer Donald Boström began by describing the July arrest in New York of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum on charges of buying kidneys from Israeli donors and selling them in the United States to people in need of transplants. From there, Boström leaps to describing “strong suspicions” among Palestinians that Israel has abducted young Palestinian men to “serve as the country’s organ reserve before being killed.”

To prove that those suspicions warrant an International Court of Justice investigation into “possible Israeli war crimes,” Boström leaps back to 1992, when he was in the West Bank working on a book. At the time, he writes, a campaign was underway in Israel to register potential organ donors. Though the effort brought a large increase in potential donors, the country still suffered from a transplant shortfall.

You can read the full article here, and come back to South Jerusalem to comment.

One more issue that I didn’t mention in the Prospect: As Gideon Levy pointed out in Ha’aretz, Boström’s abominable story only hurt serious efforts to report on the ills of the occupation:

Like the perverse comparison to the Nazis, any exaggeration in describing the occupation’s cruelty will ultimately damage the struggle against it. It’s easy to prove that Israel did not traffic in Palestinian organs, as it’s easy to prove that Israeli soldiers do not act like Nazis or that Israel is not commiting genocide. That doesn’t mean the occupation is not evil, criminal and brutal.

Contrary to what Levy writes, however, Boström brought no evidence whatsoever “that in 1992 a dead Palestinian was found whose organs had been removed…” In fact, in an interview with Yediot Aharonot earlier this week, he admitted that “As far as I know, no one checked the bodies” to see if organs had been removed. Boström took a picture of a body on which an autopsy was performed, and interpreted it on the basis of rumors. That’s journalistic malpractice.

43 thoughts on “Invention of the Body-Snatchers”

  1. Silence implies admission in many western countries. Compliance, silence, submission, acceptance, resignation, “just ignore them,” etc. never stopped pogroms or expulsions or the Holocaust.

    I’m sorry the world is so sick of hearing about the Holocaust–maybe if it hadn’t stood by in complicit silence while two-thirds of world Jewry was murdered simply for being Jewish, the world wouldn’t have to hear about it so much.

    But I’m not going to stop reminding them that the road to genocide is silence, complicity and the dehumanization of people who are not like yourselves.

    Nor am I going to let the Swedes play the “free press” card, or the “how-dare-you-call-us-antisemites” card.

    Their constitution does allow free speech–it also prohibits libel, affront and persecution of a group of people. This is the country that banned the Mohamed cartoons, which editors around the world touted as an exercise in “free speech,” so that argument is disingenuous.

    Talkbacks around the English-speaking world are full of Swedes aghast at being called antisemities or racists. Their arguments are all nearly identical and go like this: “How can you call US antisemites? We have the best free press in the world and the right to publish whatever we want. WE aren’t racists or antisemites! Why is it that every time someone criticizes Israel (this indictment of worldwide Jewry somehow is interpreted as “criticism of Israel”) you call us antisemites? We are the most modern, liberal, moral people in the world and you Jews are the racists!” Etcetera….

    No, I will say it: the Swedes are antisemites. I have Jewish friends from the region who made aliyah precisely because they didn’t want to raise their children in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Swedes applaud anything, as this piece indicates, no matter how far-fetched, unverified and reprehensible, that serves to demonize Jews.

    That’s what this is: demonization of Jews, reduction of us as a people to something barbarically inhuman, outside the Pale of normal human and humane behavior. According to polls, the Swedish public is lapping up this story and revelling in it. THAT is antisemitism, a German-invented word to denigrate Jews in comparison with the noble Aryans of European race mythology.

    And what probably won’t make the Swedish papers is the news in today’s Jerusalem Post that NO ONE in the family suggested to this reporter that their son’s organs were stolen. The brother thought the scars were from an autopsy. From which I can conclude that the Swedish reporter made it up. Sort of the way early Europeans made up the Passover blood libels.

    Proof Europe hasn’t progressed very far in the last 1,000 years for all its boasting about being progressive, liberal and enlightened.

  2. The Swedish ambassador to Israel apologized for the article, which was appropriate. The story got out of hand when Karl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, retracted the apology. Apologies have been made by the Swedish government in the past when journalists have insulted Islam. An apology does not mean suppression of free speech. However, a retraction of an apology by the foreign minister means that he is a fanatic Jew hater, as is Bostrom. Even Hamas has not come up with this

  3. Plenty of bad journalism out there. This article probably came about thanks to the recent corruption scandal in New Jersey where at least one rabbi has been arrested for selling blackmarket kidneys taken from people in Israel, you can read it here. Then there’s the UN investigation into the Kosovan KLA about murder for organs which you can read here. Remember the good old days when Muslims were called Ehnic Albanians? Our true allies and friends of democracy, the KLA, are implicated in all kinds of nastiness, including drugs, prostitution and, you guessed it, a bit of ‘fundamentalism’. Yossef Bodansky, former director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare is quoted here as saying “The role of the Albanian Mafia, which is tightly connected to the KLA, is laundering money, providing technology, safe houses, and other support to terrorists within [the US]“. This goes to my oft repeated belief that fundamentalism is a sham, a means to an end.

    But coming back to the point, there’s some mood music behind this story and can you really say that this kind of thing hasn’t happened in Israel? With what we know about the ‘Kidney Matchmaker’ Rabbi Rosenbaum of New Jersey and Israels lax laws on the subject you think it’s
    inconceivable? It’s bad piece of journalism and it doesn’t look like there’s any evidence but personally I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it was happening.

    I do find mysef getting increasingly amused by Israelis and certain Jews getting their knickers in a twist and proclaiming anti-semitism. They’ve cried wolf so many times it’s become comical. And if you go around making unfounded insults at entire nations and perfectly reasonable people who have a problem with Israel’s behaviour thendon’t expect them to like you or care if it all goes belly up.

  4. Aliyah06:” That’s what this is: demonization of Jews, reduction of us as a people to something barbarically inhuman, outside the Pale of normal human and humane behavior. ”

    If you read Gideon Levy’s piece in Haaretz which decries the Swedish article’s harm to the real issues, you would also read Levy’s list of “barbaric inhuman” dehumanizing indisputable wrongs perpetrated by Israeli occupation:

    Over the years, the IDF has killed thousands of innocent civilians, among them women and children. The Shin Bet security service has tortured hundreds of people under interrogation, sometimes to death. Israel prevents food and medicine from reaching Gaza. Sick people are extorted by the Shin Bet to become collaborators in return for medical treatment. Thousands of homes in the territories have been demolished for nothing. Dozens of people have been killed by special units when they could have been arrested instead. Thousands of detainees have sat in jail for months or years without trial. Is that not enough to draw a reliable portrait of the occupation? Is that not shocking enough?

    People in glass houses……….

  5. Suzanne-
    Gidon Levy is a typical Israeli Leftist hypocrite that says “we had the right to steal Sheikh Munis-Ramat Aviv-Tel Aviv University, but any more than that is down right immoral!”.
    Even kookoo Leftists like A B Yehoshua have disowned him.

  6. So do I understand that according to Suzanne it’s okay to demonize all Jews with an agit-prop piece made up out of rumor, designed to incite hatred against Jews, which appeals to the European anti-Semitic caricatures endemic in their society because Gideon Levy says Israeli actions are more shocking?

    Let’s leave out that Gideon Levy is, in my experience with him, an outright liar. Even assuming, arguendo, that some of what he says has a kernal of truth buried in it, context is omitted–and that context is that BOTH sides in this war have killed innocent civilians, but Hamas et al brag of target them; if you don’t think Hamas and Fatah torture and execute their own people, check out YouTube; food and medicine reach Gaza daily and except for rocket attacks on the crossings, always have.

    I gather from you comment that this piece of hate-inciting garbage published in Sweden is okay with you? Certainly making some moral equivalence argument along the lines of “the Jews deserve it” puts you squarely in that position.

  7. The history of the “liberal Social Democrats” of northern Europe regarding their collaboration with Nazi Germany is a long suppressed stain on them. With the notable exception of Denmark, the Dutch and Norwegians handed over their Jews to the Nazis quietly and efficiently. Sweden, although officially neutral battled bringing any Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, using the typical argument of genteel Antisemities “we can’t let them in, not , perish the thought, because we don’t like Jews, its just we don’t want to import a problem of antisemitism and to increase the problem of unemployment”. They allowed German troops stationed in Norway the right of passage through their territory in preparation for the invasion of the USSR. They traded extensivley with Nazi Germany giving them vital raw materials for the war effort. Their upper classes supported Nazi racial theories. They provided “racial purity” documents for Germans who wanted to marry Swedes

    Regarding the Dutch, who for some strange reason are considered “friendly” to the Jews (probably because some Jews expelled from Spain were allowed in 400-500 years ago), they were the biggest collaborators with Nazi Germany of them all. Don’t forget that the Dutch and Scandinavians were members of the “Aryan Master Race” so they were favored by the German conquerors. The Dutch provided 50,000 volunteers to the Waffen SS in order to fight alongside the German Wehrmacht. This is TEN times the number provided by any other country (and recall that Holland has a relatively small population compared to other countries that contributed, such as France). They handed the Jews over to the Nazis quite efficiently (only 10% survived, the lowest of any country under German occupation in the West). They had the fewest number of resistance fighters of any occupied country.

    It is true that Sweden did begin to change its policy after it was clear that Germany would lose the war. The famous incident in October 1943 when they gave refuge to several thousand Danish Jews occurred AFTER the German defeat at Kursk on the Eastern Front and after the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy which led to the overthrow of Mussolini, so this “humanitarian” act was done in order to get on the good side of the Allies.

    If anyone thinks this is “ancient history” and not relevant to what the Swedes are doing today, I reject that. They want to be able to clear their conciences by saying, “you see, we were right about the Jews back then, we have nothing to be ashamed about”.

    BTW-I heard that the Swedish press banned the “Muhammed cartoons” so , if that is true, then the whole “freedom of the press” thing is pure garbage. Why did they print the item in the “Kultur” section and not the news section.
    They want to show what “Jewish kultur” is really like, apparently.

  8. AFAIK, it’s not true that “the Swedish press banned the Muhammed cartoons”. In 2006 the government halted a competition for such cartoons on the web site of a far-right splinter party, a competition that had nothing to do with journalism or freedom of speech, and was only about who could most effectively insult others.
    The govt also lauded the fact that the Swedish press chose not to republish the Danish cartoons.
    None of that contradicts freedom of the press.

    In this case, as with the cartoons, the “press freedom” issue was only brought up by the outrageous reactions to the publication. Is there legal grounds for a libel suit in Sweden? Then bring it. Why does a stupid tabloid article have to be countered by likewise idiocies, like “Swedes are anti-Semites”, or “Danes are Islamophobes”? Is that the “Jewish kultur” you want to promulgate?

    You can’t have it both ways. If you want freedom of speech and of the press then you’ll have to suffer reading opinions you don’t like, even occasional outlandish stuff like Boström’s article or the Mohammed cartoons. Certainly the line to libel and slander can and should be drawn somewhere; it can not be drawn however between gratuitously insulting one group and insulting another.

  9. It’s worth pointing out that articles like these stem from antipathy towards Israel and not Jews, there’s a difference. And yet again the Holocaust is waved proudly in our faces and entire nations condemned. You do realise that the Nazis are dead don’t you guys? You still hate ‘the Germans’? You want stains? How about Sabra and Shatila or the recent Gaza massacre? Acts carried out by current governments and actual living people. The main causes of anti-semitism today are the actions of Israel. As for Jewish culture, there’s plenty of that, but what of Israeli culture? What has Israel given the world post 1948? It is anti-culture as far as I can tell. You see lots of arabs and muslims on TV screens speaking with humility, wisdom and generosity of spirit but Israelis? Apart from the odd intellectual voice in the wilderness all I’ve seen and heard is lies, hyperbole and arrogance.

  10. Dear Mr Gorenberg,

    For the record: I’m a Swede, and I do not believe in the contents of Boström’s article.

    Gideon Levy’s article points, however, to something more important, which is the proven atrocities carried out by primarily IDF.

    For the record: I do not support rocket attacks on innocent people, from either side of the fence.

    Facts remain though, in the eyes of the World community, Israel as a state (not jews) has, during more than 40 years, been in a state of continuous disregard of human rights.

    There is no side in this conflict with the right on his side. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    Israel, however, as the single democracy in the world (albeit not a prominent one according to The Economist) should be able to take the, at least slightly, higher road in this conflict, instead of sink to the depths it has as of today.

    The biggest victim following this course of politics will in the end be Israel, and that’s a tragey.

    With every dis-proportionate outlash against friendly countries or their citizens (read: Lieberman), the distance between Israel’s friends (yes, at the same time as being friends with the peace-advocating parts of Palestine, believe it or not) grows bigger. It is only a question of time before the rift is so big it’s not curable anymore.

    Bearing in mind the obvious, that also the Palestines, and the Arab world, need to work hard to close the gap:

    Israel needs to stop blaming others.
    Israel needs to stop shouting “anti-semit!” as soon as someone critizes its politcs.
    Israel needs to understand that the World does no longer believe it when Israel cries wolf.
    Israel needs to take the high road, for the simple reason that it can.

    Thank You

  11. PS. Israel is of course not the only democracy worth the title in the world, but in the middle east. 🙂

  12. I have never read quite so hypocritical comment, one that falls right into what Gorenberg warns about. Aliyah06 instantly brings up the Holocaust, talks about “Silence implies admission in many western countries. Compliance, silence, submission, acceptance, resignation”, then dismisses Gideon Levy, who is a real journalist. I suppose if Aliyah06 would admit he and so many others actually report the truth of what went on and goes on in the territories then it would be “compliance, acceptance resignation”. As an “outright liar” Levy’s reports can be dismissed as lies having no value. And to prove it further- anyway Hamas and Fatah torture and execute their own people. How, tell me does that, erase or justify what Israel does? Then A-06 goes on about all Swedes: “No, I will say it: the Swedes are antisemites.”. Somehow lumping all-Swedes, making them all anti-Semitic racists, “they applaud anything”- this for “demonizing Jews” – or at least some soothing retaliation. Proof? A-06’ has Jewish friends from Sweden who can testify if necessary. It’s one thing that paranoid Jews are lapping up this story and using it- but somehow that Swedes are- this is some proof of anti-semitism. And so on ………… the hypocrisy boggles.

    I think this is what is meant by Gorenberg as hysterical paranoid response, harmful to Israeli’s ultimately:

    The lessons of the affair, I’d suggest, are these: Sometimes, some reports critical of Israel really are anti-Semitic. Nonetheless, hysterical responses replete with Holocaust references only increase the damage. At the least, they suggest that just because someone is out to get you, doesn’t mean you aren’t paranoid.

    This describes the first comment it’s defense and defenders.

    Also relevant from Gorenberg’s article:

    Overnight, responsibility for an offensive article had expanded from a reporter and his editor to the entire Swedish press, to Sweden as a nation, which was failing to prevent Nazis from marching out of the pages of Aftonbladet and repeating the Holocaust. In a curious way, Lieberman’s reaction reflected the same kind of thinking as Boström’s: For the writer, charges against a Jew in Brooklyn substantiated allegations against Israel; for the minister, an ignominious report in one newspaper rendered all Sweden guilty.

    Over-the-top foreign condemnations of Israel boost support for defiant right-wing policies. The classic example is the U.N.’s 1975 “Zionism is racism” resolution, which set the stage for the Gush Emunim movement’s first public success in expanding West Bank settlement. A newspaper article isn’t a U.N. resolution, but Lieberman turned it into an affront by a government. Perhaps, though, it’s a mistake to ascribe such calculations to Lieberman. Reflexively, it seems, he sees Israel as tottering on the edge of another Holocaust, and as he once told me in another context, “At the end of the day, we will be alone.” Boström merely reinforced his certainty.

  13. Niklas is clearly an anti-semite for suggesting that Israel isn’t the only democracy worth the title in the world.

    I think the lesson of history is that the holocaust and the actions of the Nazis weren’t phenomena peculiar to European ethnicity. It’s in all of us, so to speak, including the Jews in Israel. Adjusting for population differences between Israel and Nazi Germany even scale becomes less relevant.

    If only anti-caucasoidism didn’t sound so ridiculous…

    I would say that some Israeli’s need to get out more but considering the relentless bombardment by deadly Qassam rockets that would be insensitive.

  14. Suzanne–not everyone who gets paid by a newspaper is a real journalist. A real journalist publishes a story based on cross-checked facts, not hysterical op-ed pieces grinding one’s political ax. Anyone who responds to my email questioning something he wrote with a response telling me that getting the Palestinian narrative out is more important than getting the “truth” does not qualify, in my opinion as a journalist or a person capable of simply telling the truth. He’s just a political hack.

    Niklas–“Israel as a state (not jews) has, during more than 40 years, been in a state of continuous disregard of human rights.” Only if you believe the agit-prop of machine of people like Gideon Levy, the Electronic Intifada, Maan, et al. Israel has been in a state of seige since its inception, and while the presence of two cold peace treaties has brought foreign armies to a halt, those same powers and their neighbors have no problem aiding and abetting Hamas and Fatah with waging war instead of peace. Egypt blindly acquiesced with Hamastan’s weapons smuggling until Hezbollah involved Hamas with actions within Egypt’s own borders. Your blanket accusation is an example of the kind of overbroad, out of context propagandistic brush the Israel-haters like to publish.

    Nor do I hear any European outcry about missiles, kidnappings, rocket launches, suicide bombers, and random murders in the name of Palestinian “rights.” So I suggest your world-view is warped and biased.

    When Sweden demonizes Jews in publishing libel like this (and yes, someone has filed suit), it IS antisemitism, however much you dislike the label. Nor is it inaccurate to call it that, nor is it hysterical. The “news article” in question is an unfounded, rumor based, hate-inciting invention.

    It is not a “criticism of Israeli policy” because it doesn’t criticize Israeli policy. It recounts a cabal of Jews who work to steal organs from non-Jews they have deliberately murdered, a la medieval European blood libels.

    There isn’t room to provide Suzanne with all the statistics she requires but even in today’s paper there is an account of a Jewish doctor who feels compelled to never tell people she is Jewish because of the level of antiSemitism in Swedish society—which also explains why this fabricated tale is so popular in the press index in Sweden. But you could look at this: A country where Jews have to remove their kippot or Stars of David or else be beaten in the streets is not an enlightened, tolerant democracy but a collective of bigots. That’s certainly not mere disagreement with Israeli policies. That’s antisemitism.

    Fiddler–Extract from a Swedish newspaper: The Swedish government is afraid of being drawn into the controversy over the Muhammad cartoons, writes the paper Dagens Nyheter. The right-wing party Sverigedemokraterna (SD) published the Muhammad cartoons from the Jyllands-Posten on their homepage, together with other offensive cartoons. The site has now been blocked by the authorities, but not before an Arab television station reported the publication.

    OK, it was “blocked by the authorities” rather than banned—its still official stoppage of the publication.

    Duncan: How about Sabra and Shatila or the recent Gaza massacre?

    WHAT Gaza massacre? How about Gazan doctors telling the press that Hamas inflated the casualty figures and most of the dead are fighters, and there there were 500-600 dead. You can find this in the Italian press, also, if you read Italian. This was published before the IDF investigation which came to the same conclusion.,7340,L-3660423,00.html

    How about Sabra and Shatilla? How about the fact that the Israelis weren’t killing anyone but the Christian Phlalangists were. How about that Gemayal, the elected leader of Lebanon was assasinated by a bomb believed to have been planted by the Palestinians and his brother called for revenge at his funeral. I agree it was a massacre (but I’ll go with the Red Cross figures of 350, or the IDF figure of 700, not the inflated 3500 claimed by the Palestinians). The fault of the IDF was that they had not anticipated revenge killings. Even the heads of the Phalangists reacted in a way that suggested they had lost control of their units. Doctors and nurses in adjacent Gaza Hospital and Lebanese army personnel immediately adjacent to the camps claimed to have seen and heard nothing, so this was a killing spree that went unnoticed until it was over. How about fact-checking before spouting internet slogans?

    “The main causes of anti-semitism today are the actions of Israel.” I disagree. The main reason for anti-Semitism today is the racist and religious triumphalism of Christian European culture, which has treated the Jews as parvenus through most of its history, first on religious grounds then on “race” grounds, glorifying in its own self-created kulturkampf against the Jews at home and the Moslem, Indians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Africans, Native Americans et al abroad, exporting its doctrines of racial, cultural, and religious superiority in an explosion of colonialist thievery. You’ve lost all your colonies, but your undeserved sense of enlightened cultural superiority is exposed as a fraud when you dance in the gutter of antiSemitism, as you have here.

  15. I dont see why anyone is not analyzing the crux of the matter-why foreign minister Bundt retracted the condemnation of the Swedish minister to Israel. We have freedom of the press in Israel as well (we tolerate Gideon Levy), but governemnt ministers are free to apologize or condemn any writing

  16. Aliyah06- I don’t trust your characterization of a Levy response to your email. Maybe you can publish it.

    Gideon Levy is an awarded revered journalist to many and has been with Haaretz for over 20 years and is an editorial board member . No hack.

    It’s is true that Levy feels that it is important to get the Palestinian narrative out to the Israeli public. I agree. Precious few journalists in Israel do this. I can only think of Amira Hass at the moment- also maligned for telling this side of the story.

    It’s interesting that you cling to this one Italian report for your definitive “facts” about the assault on Gaza because it suits you even though the validity of that report, is very much in question, if not ludicrous when you look into what it’s based on. The reporter spoke with one anonymous doctor and a few Gazans for his facts. There is no evidence that he visited the hospitals either. The UN, the Red Cross and even Israel contradict this report.

    Israel did not allow reporters in to the area. Now each side can claim what it prefers for propaganda purposes. The rest of the world, regardless, uses the larger figures for Gaza dead vs Israeli dead to accuse Israel of disproportionate response. That cannot be disproven and it apparently sticks. Plus all the picutres coming out of the devastation make it more believable. The publicity campaign professionals have an impossible job.

    But then you go on to Sabra and Shatilla- for diversion. Anything to get away from the present.

  17. To be fair Suzanne I think the Sabra and Shatila remark was addressed at me but from what I’ve read and seen (Waltz with Bashir) there was far more culpability than suggested.

    The Kahan commission found that Ariel Sharon “bears personal responsibility”[2] and recommended his dismissal from the post of Defense Minister, stating that:

    It is our view that responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defense for having disregarded the prospect of acts of vengeance and bloodshed by the Phalangists against the population of the refugee camps and for having failed to take this danger into account when he decided to have the Phalangists enter the camps. In addition, responsibility is to be imputed to the minister of defense for not ordering appropriate measures for preventing or reducing the chances of a massacre as a condition for the Phalangists’ entry into the camps.

    That piece of fact checking took about 20 seconds.

    So only 500-600 dead, not a real massacre (if we even believe the perpetrators statistics). With that kind of logic a bus bomb killing 20 Jews is hardly worth mentioning. Call me squeamish but I’m thinking it’s not far into double figures before you can start calling something a massacre. The threat posed to Israel

    Did you know Aliyah that Christian church attendance in Sweden is 3%? Demark 3%? Most of Western Europe is under 10%, even Italy is only 18%. The history of anti-semitism in Europe is rather more complicated than ‘religious triumphalism’ and has more to do with money and power in my opinion.

    The Jpost is pretty silly. They managed to find one person to criticise Sweden who goes on to say that they believe anti-Zionism to be the new anti-Semitism, which says it all really.

    And here’s the evidence that the main causes of anti-semitism today are the actions of Israel.

  18. unfinished sentence there. I was going to go on to ask whether anyone knows where ‘death by rocket’ ranks on a list of the ways you can get killed in Israel. Are you more likely to be killed by a Palestinian or in a car accident or by another Israeli? A cursory look at Google hasn’t produced anything yet.

  19. “And here’s the evidence that the main causes of anti-semitism today are the actions of Israel.”

    Wow, thanks for that evidence, Duncan. We can all rest easy now that we know anti-Semitism (at least “today”) abides by such logical cause-effect reasoning. Why, now that we know this, I’m sure that eradicating anti-Semitism will be a snap! Thanks again.

  20. @aliyah06: I don’t have the details of that affair, but IIRC it was the specific SD web site that was blocked, there was no general ban of the publication of Mohammed cartoons. Still the then FM Laila Freivalds was forced to resign because of her interference with the press. So in the end freedom of the press – even if used for questionable ends – did prevail.

    In his blog (, Carl Bildt makes clear he doesn’t want to make the same mistake as Freivalds; he basically paraphrases the American saying that the best antidote to bad speech is not censorship but better speech, and that’s the Swedish understanding of freedom of speech. As opposed to you, he seems to appreciate the difference between offering the opinion of the private citizen Bildt and using the government’s bully pulpit for it.

  21. Well I’ve done the research and it appears that an Israeli is far more likely to be killed by him or her self than by a terrorist, proving once again that Israel is its own worst enemy.

  22. Israelis are brought up from day one on a morbid and toxic narrative of “the world has always been against us” and “they hate us simply because we are jews”. Starting with the biblical stories – on with the oft mistold tale of the jews being exiled en mass by the romans (didn’t quite happen), and followed by an endless series of persecutions against the jews in Europe – it is a long narrative focused on jewish suffering caused, presumably, by unabated totally irrational scrooge of anti-semitism. All this told – over and over again – as an apparently unique occurrence in history – anti-semitism being the single unifying element between nations of the earth. In Israeli schools history classes there’s typically little nuance or context provided in the endless paraphrasings and retellings of the basic tenet: “why do the hate us? because we are jews”.

    Should any observers – not brought up on the same numbing toxic mix of pogroms followed by persecutions – raise caveats, say by pointing out that many other groups of people have been – and are – persecuted throughout the world simply because they are different (whether by choice or accident of birth), they shall be immediately hounded out of the stable – sent to graze on anti-semitic grass. The cherem on Spinoza was but one in a long series of ejecting the tribal rebel within, and Spinoza is hardly taught in Israeli schools to this day. Right now – in front of our eyes, the Roma are persecuted and hounded throughout Europe. As many as 1 million of them persished in gas chambers – along with jews during the holocaust, yet yad nashem has but a brief mention of the “other” 5-6 million victims of the nazis (not counting the 20 million dead russians). And the Roma are but one current example of people supposedly hated simply because they are gypsies who pursue a unique life style.

    Yet, to the Israeli subjected to the thoroughly one-sided brain washing administered by Israeli schools (we are right and righteous by design. “They” are wrong and ill-disposed by nature), the world is a warped bubble waiting to burst with uncontrolled spasms of primordial cataclisms of anti-semitism gone amock.

    All this while israel itself is engaged in committing unspeakable atrocities against palestinians and is deliberately calling for persecutions of muslims – and/or arabs. as in the incitement against Iraq (a successful one – culminating in 1 M dead) and now against Iran (in progress). In other words – let’s visit a holocaust on others because once upon a time, a holocaust was perpetrated against us.

    The story in the Swedish paper was a small blurb at one of the back pages. One of many stories we see all over the world that are based on anecdotal tales, suspicions and a pattern of abuse. It falls properly into the category of a “conspiracy theory” that’s typically based on the concept of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. Unfortunately, some of these turn out to be all too true, some are awaiting history to render a verdict and some are too outlandish for consideration by rational people. It was Lieberman the petty thug’s choice to escalate the story in importance, for reasons all too obvious: Israel needs the boogey-man of antisemitism to keep its internal cohesion and deflect criticism of truly uncivilized behavior. Without the boogey-man, why, the ‘accusations” of apartheid may just stick as the unmistakable fact it is, and BDS may then pick up to become a torrent.

    All these accusations are meant as a distraction from the extremely ugly reality of what’s really going on in and by Israel. And as for the willingness of some (many?) to believe in the possibility of organ stealing by members of the no-longer-vaunted IDF? why – far worse has been done to palestinians than taking organs post death. First, there;’s the little question of just how that death came about, for example. So yes, it’s quite possible to believe israelis (some) may be capable of heinous crimes because heinous crimes have – and are being perpetrated daily by “the most moral army in the world’ and excused by their semi-hysterical supporters elsewhere. It is they who, sadly, have been body-snatched.

  23. “But then you go on to Sabra and Shatilla- for diversion.”

    Actually, I wasn’t the one who brought this up–the diversionary tactic came from Duncan and I was only responding to it–take your pique at diversion to your cocommenter on the Left. I, for once, agree with you–it’s a total red herring. A Phalangist massacre is really unrelated to Swedish publication of antisemitic blood libels.

    But since it was thrown in our face, how about this: Duncan wants us to acknowledge that the Nazis are all dead and move on and let’s all forget about Eruope’s bloody history of antisemitism….ok, then let’s acknowledge that Sabra and Shatilla are over and move on, too. No? Didn’t think so…..more Euro-leftist double standards.

    BTW, the turning point from religous triumphalism to racism came with the Spanish Expulsion and its detailed attention to levels of “pure” European blood in people…so church attendance is really irrelevent now. Antisemitism morphed from a religiously based ideology, justifying hate as an allegience to a particular creed, to racism, justifying hate as loyalty to the European race [one of the reasons I always snicker when I hear the uninformed describe Israel as a “European colonial venture”–since we were never accepted as Europeans in Europe, nor accorded the most minimal of civil rights through most of its history.]

    No, Occam’s Razor is at work here—all these accusations of antisemitism aren’t designed to distract attention from the occupation or from the IDF or to attack European NGOs or any of the other bizarre, delusional conspiracy theories touted by the Left. The accusations of antisemitism are because the article was antiSemitic in the extreme, harkened back to the blood libels of the medieval period, are designed to incite hatred of Jews, and people are justifiably angry about it. Much of that anger has to do with Sweden’s self-proclaimed status as the beacon of morality in post-modern society, proclaiming its tolerance, its diversity, etc. ad nauseum — in short, people expect this kind of behavior from Iran and Sudan. But not from a country that trumpets its human rights record and claims to be the most moral, enlightened society on earth.

  24. Not a double standard I’m afraid Aliyah. I was pointing out that your assertion that Europe still needed to be aware of it’s so-called anti-semitic stains was hypocritical when Israel had its own stains to worry about, ones that are far more recent and for which no Nuremberg-style trials have been held. Ariel Sharon was simply demoted and later became Prime Minsiter; no change in political philosophy took place as demonstrated by the recent Gaza attacks.

    I agree with a lot of what dana has to say. Jewish exceptionalism seems to require its suffering be elevated as much as any other part of its culture. The history of persecuted ethnic and purely religious groups is long and varied. The Cathars, the Puritans expelled from England, the suffering of the Irish or the Boers in South Africa, the persecutions of Christians by Muslims, the persecution of Muslims by Christians. If industrial methods of killing had been available throughout human history many more acts of genocide would have taken place on the scale of the WWII Jewish holocaust. 16 million people died in WWI, 24 million Soviets and over 10 million Chinese in WWII, huge losses of life.

    So while the Jewish holocaust was horrifying and a critical moment in history that we should remember, it does not mean that there is anything special about anti-semitism. It is not a mystical force of nature, almost sentient in it’s single-minded pursuit of the Jewish people. It’s just racism, the same racism that effects us all and is probably rooted in some kind of genetic tribal instinct.

    Aliyah’s point about religious triumphalism morphed in an interesting way when it came under scrutiny but the argument that the essential nature of anti-semitism had some profound shift of emphasis based on a single event is difficult to swallow. There is a strand of racism in Europe that desires racial purity, as there is in Israel, but it does not have a partcular fetish for Jews and is certainly not the driving factor behind the Swedish article.

    Accusations of blood libel are also not unique to the Jews, the Romans accused early Christians of it too. But to put this article in that context is hyperbolic. Even calling it anti-semitic is presumptious. An article with equally shaky foundations could have written about the US in Iraq or the Russians in Chechnya. It does not make any accusations about the character of a race, just the actions of some within a state.

    This article would have been noticed by virtually no-one if it hadn’t have suited a political agenda inside Israel to make a big deal out of it. People can check these things out pretty easily on the internet and even then I wouldn’t stake my life on the organs of dead Palestinians never having been taken without consent.

    So this fuss is all about distraction. The important stories are the ones that become increasing difficult to discuss with these accusations of anti-semitism flying around. It certainly has the BBC running scared and refusing to broadcast an appeal for the victims of Gaza. The real stories should be concerned with facts like the one I mentioned. Given that an Israeli is six times more likely to commit suicide than be killed by a terrorist, doesn’t killing between 500 and 1400 Palestinians in response to that threat seem like an atrocity?

  25. Aliyaho6- Perhaps read Dana- I can’t say it better. I seems like there are some Israeli’s who look for these stories to label anti-semitic or blood libels to prove racism and anti-semitism more broadly.
    What both Sabra and Shatilla and Gaza do have in common is Israeli action or inaction that resulted in the killing of many innocent defenseless Palestinians. That is not to be defended. It is something to regret. The absence of that emotion from staunch defenders of Israeli policy and actions is what makes it hard for outsiders to have sympathy.

    Jewish suffering or explanations from the past is rapidly becoming a dog that does not hunt anymore, not the Spanish inquisition nor medieval blood libels.
    Early Zionists like Chaim Weizmann referred to the movement towards Palestine as “colonization”. Palestinians saw ( and still see) European Jews as Europeans.

  26. It must be tough for Gershom to see what left wing overseas criticism of Israel has been reduced to. Not just the moronic ‘journalism’ of the likes of Bostrom, but those who defend the spirit of that moronic journalism.
    Is that what the left has come to?
    I personally found myself becoming much more cynical after another sloppy piece of left wing european journalism managed to show me just how quickly and easily ‘acceptance of Israel’ by the Arab world could go out the window, and just how gullible and forgetful ‘world opinion’ is. I’m talking about the France2 tape of Mohammed Al Dura being shot. There’s a case of bad journalism literally kicking off a holy war against Israel, Zionists, and Jews. For those who remember the follow up, a Palestinian mob ended up killing two IDF reservists who took a wrong turn in their jeep in retaliation for the death of Mohammed Al dura. And for good measure, the Italian journalist who happened to be on scene recorded the event. When his footage aired internationally, he immediately apologized to the PA for making them look bad.

    We all know the rest. The point is, the Israeli peace camp’s credibility and support has plummeted after the Al Dura intifada was launched, and with good reason. Israelis aren’t stupid. “If you end the occupation, peace will break out. Just watch.” That was the operative sentiment among the peace camp. And virtually all Israelis had the good sense to reassess that opinion after the Oslo experiment.
    But not everybody has learned the same lessons Israelis have. In the US you have a small group of activistas pushing “Israeli war crimes are responsible for all the problems” line. They are noisy, but small. In europe however, this class is a bit more entrenched. As the Aftonbladet affair shows, they don’t have truth on their side. What they have instead is a sort of self appointed moral authority based on the post WW2 progressiveness of western europe. But when you look at it, you realize that that authority rests on a house of cards.
    While I wholeheartedly support Gershom’s attempts to interject an enlightened dovishness into the Israeli landscape, it must be acknowledged that the shallow sloganeering and platitudes that constitute ‘left wing dialogue about Israel’ overseas bears little in common with the reality of Israel’s situation.

  27. Dave- well expressed but this is the other “line”: “they are all against us” “Israel is against the world” “They don’t understand what we are up against” songs and left bashing. Dherry picked evidence to prove it. Prove what? Who on the right would end the occupation?

    The Al-Dura episode with all the investigations bottom line ended inconclusively making everyone look bad. But it was at least indicative or a symptom of the whole sick situation as the Swedish article. Israel, by use of force to oppress and suppress and postpone the inevitable leaves herself and Jews in general everywhere, very vulnerable.

  28. Make that “cherry picked” –

    I don’t understand how Israeli’s on the right can build and support building a very angry Palestinian populace and then not expect such incidents.

  29. But it was at least indicative or a symptom of the whole sick situation as the Swedish article. …this is a totally insipid comment which one would not expect of an adult. If I was treating a chronic wound on a patient, could I apply pus from another patient, knowing that it would not help the first patient, but was indicative of a sick situation?

  30. You people steal land, others history and culture. Why wouldnt you steal organs. I am hoping that UN Rapporteur Richrd Falk looks into these allegations

  31. Well my factoid has been ignored but if you want bad journalism, take a bow Mr. Gorenberg.

    The only actual connection between Rosenbaum’s arrest and Boström’s allegations against Israel are that both involved Jews

    Actually no, the actual connection was that the Rosenbaum was a Jew who happened to be dealing with blackmarket organs obtained from unspecified donors within Israel. If Rosenbaum had been a member of the Albanian mafia dealing in organs from inside Israel I’m surethis would also have been of interest to Boström. Rosenbaum is not just another Jew in the way that Jon Stewart or my old landlord in London are Jewish. It was the activity that he was involved him that brought him to the attention of Boström, no matter how tenuous.

    The lessons of the affair are, I suggest, these: Sometimes, some reports critical of Israel really are anti-semitic.

    In other words Boström’s article is anti-semitic. I’ve read it and the word Jew or Jewish is never mentioned. There is no “isn’t this just like the Jews” or anything similar. Talking about litigation, if people start getting a taste for sueing people for accusations of anti-semitism I think Israel would lose an important part of it’s defence strategy.

    I’m going to make an educated guess that many Palestinians and the Swedish journalist believe that something illegal is going on. It might be true, it might not be, but this article article explains why Palestinians may be inclined to believe it.

  32. Duncan, perhaps the reason folks are ignoring your “factoid” about an Israeli being more likely to commit suicide than die from a rocket attack is because it is both useless and self serving. It’s like saying that Americans were 13X more likely to die in a traffic accident than in a major terrorist attack in the year 2001. The 37,862 “deaths by car” ( for the 2001 traffic deaths) do not cancel out the deliberate attack by terrorists on 9/11. The over 2,700 deaths in New York can’t be dismissed because “Americans’ worst enemy is other Americans driving a car”, just as the inaccuracy of rocket targeting mechanisms doesn’t make the firing of rockets “ok” or anything other than attempted murder in the name of a cause.

    All of which is more facts than made it into Boström’s piece. Fortunately we have the good journalism of Mr. Gorenberg to bring us facts and informed discussion instead of faked-up freak shows worthy of a P.T. Barnum.

  33. When I sent you those photos that happened to contain that link I hoped you would determine whether they where fake…or real and let me know your opinion. I am not a writer…so I don’t get the whole “entertainment” bit. I just wanted to know if you thought the phosphorus photos were real..I don’t care what your audience thinks, just send me a personal email

  34. Well John I don’t think the numbers are self-serving or useless. The number of road traffic accidents in the United States far exceeds the number of terrorist deaths and yet vast amounts of newspaper coverage, financial resources and human lives have been expended on the War on Terror as opposed to road traffic safety. It brings perspective to the debate, it helps you to judge whether responses are proportionate, if you value all life equally that is.

    I think that the threat to Israel is so minimal that mass killings including the recents ones in Gaza and Lebanon are in no way justified. I’m not saying you should ignore threats like terrorism, I wasn’t one who had a big problem with the wall if that’s what it took, but Israel constantly justifies its military atrocities by depicting a relentless, unthinking enemy with little regard for human life. The latter accusation is interesting given the suicide rate among Arabs in Israel is 3 times lower than among Jews in 2004-2005. The threat to its people that is presented by Israel is grossly exaggerated, just like the threat to Americans from Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein was grossly exaggerated. These are not useless things to point out.

    But the Israeli government isn’t interested in peace anyway so in one way you’re right. Facts are useless.

  35. Duncan, I hardly consider what you did to be working the figures. You compared two years that the Intifada has pretty much ended with suicides. Weird then you didn’t pick when the Intifada was raging which was 2000 to roughly end of 2002. Total number of Israelis killed is 589 – according to Btselem – which work out around 8-10 per 100,000. Even assuming every single suicide occured in 2000-2002, that would be 6 per 100,000. Even for a product of the British education system, it must be clear 8>6.

    Even the comment about the suicide rate is asinine – if not an obvious arithmetic mistake – given that Israeli Jews are more likely to have access to lethal weapons than Israeli Arabs. This is before you get into arguments about the statistical relevence of one data point, should you be comparing attempts with successes, accuracy of reporting on such a small sample size etc etc.

    Of course all of this pales into the obvious error where you compare the successful terrorist attempts against the fact that it is BECA– USE Israel took action that the death rates are so low. For Lebanon, it wasn’t inaccuracy of rockets and wasn’t their lack of lethality that caused the mortality rates to be so low, it was the fact that most Israelis moved out of harm’s way and because Israel had invested time and money in a shelter and early warning system so most people were inside and protected when the rockets landed. It is like saying not that many people die from car accidents so why do we need brakes, airbags, seat belts and speed restrictions. It is also an argument you could use for the whole conflict given the number of Palestinians killed is lower than the murder rate in a major US city.

    As a side note you might want to check the full wording of the report you quote on Sharon. Actually what it said was he bore an indirect responsibility because he was the guy in charge of the IDF and the IDF should have known based on the Phalange’s previous behaviour what they would do.

    As for the article, it was clearly triggered by what happened in the US and the fact it was Jews who were among the accused. The “reporter” has been touting this story for over a decade, he didn’t republish when the UK had it’s own organ theft scandal. He didn’t publish when the scandal about the KLA organ theft came out. He didn’t quote Chinese organ thieves. He didn’t even quote the non-Jews involved in the scandal, he picked the guy with the clearly Jewish name and then skipped over to this old allegation – one he admits freely has zero evidence to back up. It also clearly show the danger of letting these things fester because had Israel dealt with this in 92 when this scumbag first made the allegation they could of dug up the bodies and proved the story was a lie beyond all doubt whereas of course there will always be a tiny window of doubt though which people like you can “keep an open mind”.

    As for the initial reaction of Israel they were absolutely right, they should sue the guy for libel. At a bare minimum there would be sworn evidence that the guy made it up and i have no doubt there is a paper trail saying now is the time to resurrect this story – because of what happened in NJ. It would also mean that other newspapers would be a little bit more careful in fact checking their stories and in the end there would be more careful more accurate reporting. I think having the “reporter” spend the rest of his life bankrupt in a cardboard box would have a salutary effect in this direction.

    Personally I would have left out the comments about anti-semiticism along with the tarring of the Swedish people – even if it was true and i don’t think it is, whats the point of giving them a reason to pretend THEY are the victims here – and stuck with the limited case of this reporter, maybe his editor and the newspaper.

    For the record I don’t believe our reporter is “anti-semitic” either. I would guess he is a lazy leftie who knows he can write any old crap about Israel and at a bare minimum people like you would think it is possible.

  36. I’m going to assume English isn’t your first language Danny because the first sentence implies that you kind of agree with my point of view. Your snide remark about my British education would be kind of ironic if it were, especially since I was educated in The Netherlands, so put that in your pijp and rook it, zo te zeggen. Of course if I was mind to I could go into a frenzy of high-minded accusations of racism about that remark or any of the other anti-European remarks in the comments sections of Israeli blogs but I won’t.

    I used the first figures I came across but your argument is pretty silly. You can select your years and then I can select the most recent years when I’m sure the number of terrorist deaths have been even lower. They were the latest figures I could find to put into context the more recent atrocities in Lebanon and Gaza.

    Taken over the course of the whole conflict the numbers of terrorist deaths, according to the sources I read, has hovered around 1-2 per 100k, the suicide rate seems pretty constant at 6-7 per 100k. If your attrition rate in a war is less than your suicide rate it’s not a war; not a bombing, artillery, tank etc kind of war. The Palestinian death rate over the years may be comparable to the murder rate of major American cities but that’s hardly a comfort, it’s still many times higher than the Israeli number. What’s more those deaths aren’t imposed by an occupying power, a lot of them will be drug related. In the context of Israel, how high do you think the murder rate would have to climb above the suicide rate before the US started bombing east Baltimore?

    Your point about Israeli access to lethal weapons is also a little ridiculous. Even if that were the determining factor the Israeli government could save more lives by reducing access to deadly weapons (and a well funded Samaritans hotline) than it could save if it ended terrorist deaths completely.

    As I said the non-lethal security measures Israel introduces I can support, but that should buy you time and give you the opportunity to reduce the number of Palestinian or Lebanese civilians you wipe out. That is if you accept the logic that these massacres increase the likelihood of future terrorism and you want an peace settlement. The Lebanese War followed a sequence of events, one of the more pivotal being the killing of a Palestinian family on a beach, prevent that death and you could have prevented more. The number deaths would have been even lower without the choice of the Israeli government to go to war because the IDF casualties would have been prevented, along with the civilians. Israel often breaks ceasefires when it knows it will likely bring a retaliation. Why are all these things the case? Because the Israeli government doesn’t want a peace. It wants to impose a defeat, a surrender and get its hand on as much land as possible. Towards that end it is willing to sacrifice the lives of its own citizens. I’m sorry but that’s despicable and I can hardly support such a state. There is nothing extreme about wanting people to have justice and the ability to return to the homes that were stolen from them.

    Of course all I can do is speak my mind and stop buying matzo meal although I’m afraid I have to draw the line at Caterpillar; their Moor safety trainers are the best shoes I’ve ever owned.

    Sharon should have known that a massacre would take place; and almost certainly did.

    Why would the reporter have any interest in organ scandals that had no connection whatsoever with Israel? He wouldn’t of course. Given what I know about human nature, and the dehumanisation of each side by the other, I can easily imagine that organs have been taken without consent, although would find it hard to believe it was organised. My antipathy towards Israel is not influenced by things I don’t know are happening, it is based on what I do know is happening.

  37. It’s great to see that while I was on vacation the wheels of opinion have been grinding on . First of all there are too many thin-skined responses to an article which could have been written anywhere ;albeit Sweden.
    I have great regard for the post-WWII jewish mantra “never again” I only wish that the lucid part of the American populace could see themselves as the populace of Germany and how they were manipulated by the “short shit from Austria” and reject the neo-nazi propaganda. Remember Hitler got the industrialists, insurance and finance mogols and the Christian Right committed to the program. Fox is the greatest threat to individual freedom and expression in the world and the Right in Israel laps it up.

  38. Well i am a product of the english education system and it is touching to see the Netherlands can produce innumerate people.

    I am yet again impressed with you inability to grasp basic errors in your stats. So having failed to show terrorism during the intifada – 2000-2002 – was higher than suicide ( and so what if it was? ) we are now resorting to looking over the 60 year conflict? Can I look at figures for 1946-1950 for deaths of British by Nazi hands and compare them with the suicide rate to demonstrate how Germany never posed a threat? This is the same level of idiocy as your “argument”…

    But lets be generous, assume your numbers aren’t made up and that they represented a true picture and that there were not clusters of terrorist attacks followed by actions taken Israel which cut the opportunity to carry out further attacks. We also have to ignore any actions taken to save the lives of victims of terror attacks, we also have to ignore the failed or incompetent terror attacks and finally we have to ignore the fact that alot of the suicide victims are under stress – not unrelated to army service, not unrelated to terror attacks – and when they have a dark moment have access to an instant, painless and irrevocable way of killing themselves.

    You are right about Palestinians deaths, there are not comparable to the violent death rate in Chicago, they are roughly half. Your comment about the relative number of deaths is yet another example of innumerate stupidity – the US, British and French combined lost fewer soldiers fighting the Nazis than the Nazis lost. By your logic, you are presumably outraged by allied behaviour and vehement pro-Nazi?

    The Lebanon war followed 6 unsuccessful kidnap attempts in 12 months. The events on the Gaza beach are neither here nor there. Your arguments about why Israel was fighting in Lebanon and Gaza make even less sense than your “statistical” crap. If Israel had wanted this land – ie Gaza and South Lebanon – all it had to do was not pullout in 2000 and 2005. It didn’t need an “excuse” and for all your self-righteousness, I suspect you never ever supported Israel before all of this and one has to wonder when the Arab-Israeli conflict is so non-lethal why this makes it to the top of your list as a non-Jewish, non-palestinian, presumably non-muslim dutch person living in the UK. I have missed your posts on say Syria or Iran or North Korea or Burma or China or Congo etc etc etc.

    As for the article by Bostrom, the members of the family never said the organs were missing, he has no evidence they were missing – by his own admission – and lots of people have pointed out that organs from someone who has been dead a while are not of much use as transplants. So basically there is no reason to believe what he said and plenty not to. The fact you want to keep an “open mind” suggests your mind wasn’t that open in the first place but I guess we all knew that anyway….

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