Recently I published a Barry Rubin article about allegations in a Swedish newspaper that the IDF was stealing the organs of dead Palestinians under the title “How low they can go“.
Guess what? I was wrong. Israel-hating Swedes can go much lower.
One of the bright spots in the story was the Swedish ambassador to Israel, Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, who said that the article was
…as shocking and appalling to us Swedes as it is to Israeli citizens. We share the dismay expressed by Israeli government representatives, media and the Israeli public. This embassy cannot but clearly distance itself from it… Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are freedoms which carry a certain responsibility. It falls on the editor-in-chief of any given newspaper.
Israel had hoped that the Swedish government itself would agree. But now it’s reported that the Swedish Foreign Ministry has distanced itself from her remarks:
Sweden’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday said a response by the Swedish Embassy in Israel to a report by the Aftonbladet news saying IDF soldiers killed Palestinians in order to harvest their organs does not represent the government’s stance.
The embassy had stated that the report was “appalling”. But the Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman said, “The embassy in Tel Aviv responded in accordance to Israeli public opinion, however the Swedish government is committed to freedom of the press…”
Another Swedish government spokesperson, Anders Jorle said, “The Foreign Ministry would not have acted in the same way” as the ambassador…
[Opposition] Green Party spokesman Per Gahrton said Borsiin Bonnier should be recalled and taught the basics of Swedish freedom of speech.
Like the tendentious Human Rights Watch report that accused Israel of shooting unarmed Palestinian civilians in cold blood, the article was based on reports from Palestinian “eyewitnesses”. The author of the piece, Swedish free-lance journalist Donald Bostrom, tried to say it was just a news report about Palestinian beliefs:
What I experienced during this day is many people from Israel who called me haven’t read the article. So they think I’m accusing the IDF of stealing organs. That’s not what I’m doing. I just recorded the Palestinian families saying that. And I think it should be further investigated, either to kill the rumor once and for all, or if it happens to be true, then to start the legal actions…
But the article did far more than this. Jonah Levy explains that
Bostrom’s article reads more like an opinion article than a straight journalism piece, and it attempts to connect claims he heard in the West Bank in 1992 that Israeli soldiers were illegally removing organs from Palestinians killed in fighting with a campaign for Israeli organ donors, supposed illegal purchases of organs in Israel in the early 2000s, and the recent story of American Levy Izhak Rosenbaum who was accused of illegally trafficking Israeli organs.
“We know that the need for organs in Israel is large, that an extensive illegal organ moving is ongoing and has been for a long time, that it is done with the blessing of the authorities, the senior doctor at the major hospital is involved, as well as officials at various levels. And we know that the Palestinian young men disappeared, they were back five days later in secrecy at night, sewn up,” Bostrom wrote in the conclusion of his story.
Bostrom and the newspaper’s lawyers have been careful to not make any specific defamatory statements that could expose them to lawsuits.
But repeating unsubstantiated allegations, juxtaposing them with unrelated — but suggestive — facts, and leaving the reader to draw his own defamatory conclusions is a a time-honored technique of scum like Bostrom to smear their targets.
Now read the last paragraph again, substituting “Human Rights Watch” or “Amnesty International” or “B’tselem” or “Breaking the Silence” for “Bostrom”.