Organs, organs

The following article is so important that I chose to reprint it here (with permission), in order to give it the widest possible distribution. I’ve taken the liberty of changing some of the links in the original version for more complete or authoritative citations — editor

Selective Outrage
A subject for an objective academic study
By Maurice Ostroff

China’s Grisly Practices
With the launching last month of David Matas and David Kilgour’s book “Bloody Harvest,” every fair minded person must wonder why there has been no public outrage at its gruesome revelation of wide-scale harvesting of organs from live prisoners of conscience in China. The authors estimate that 41,500 organ transplants using Falun Gong prisoners have been done in the past five years. Their vital organs were seized involuntarily for sale at high prices, sometimes to foreigners, who normally face long waits for voluntary donations of such organs in their home countries.

This is not merely a journalist’s report that can be taken lightly. Matas is a lawyer who received the Order of Canada for his human rights work, and Kilgour is a  former crown prosecutor and former Member of Parliament.

The allegations are not new. According to the British Medical Journal of Nov. 24, 2001 prisoners in China can be executed for crimes such as black market activities, in addition to murder. Ambulances wait at the site of the executions and the fresh organs from healthy young persons are harvested, to be transplanted into recipients from abroad.

10,000 African Albinos in hiding
And why, one must ask, is there no outrage at reports by the International Federation for the Red Cross and Crescent societies, that 10,000 Albinos have gone into hiding in East Africa because of the common belief that body parts of albinos have magical powers?

India’s Black Market in Organs
And are we too indifferent to express outrage at India’s black market organ scandal as reported in Time magazine of Feb. 1, 2008, revealing an organ transplant ring that has been harvesting kidneys from poor Indian laborers, sometimes against their wishes? Doctors pay $1000 for the kidneys and sell them for $37,500. Another massive transplant ring in Punjab was uncovered in 2003. Police there believe at least 30 of the donors, died, despite promises that they would receive excellent post-operation medical care. Some donors were forcibly brought to clinics at gunpoint and forced to undergo operations that they didn’t want.

Even Britain
In 2000, pathologist Dick Van Velzen at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool confessed to removing hundreds of thousands of organs from children’s bodies and storing them in hospitals all over the country. In addition to over 2,000 hearts, there were a large number of brain parts, eyes taken from over 15,000 stillborn foetuses and perhaps most disturbingly of all, a number of children’s heads and bodies.

Gaza’s Grisly Trophies
And there was not even a hint of outrage when Mideast Dispatch Archive reported on May 11, 2004 that body parts of six murdered Israelis were paraded around in Gaza as trophies by Palestinian mobs, including members of the PA security forces. Some even played football with body parts in the street. One disembodied head was placed on a table so television cameras could film it close up.

But there is no lack of outrage when Israel is in the dock
How does one explain the glaring difference between the mild media reactions to the above well documented reports and the immediate frenzied response to the unsubstantiated inference that the IDF harvested body parts of Palestinians, in the article by Donald Bostrom in the Swedish Aftonbladet? And how does one explain the instant fame acquired by the author whose name suddenly achieved over 400,000 Google results.

Bostrom’s own words confirm that his accusations are based on flimsy inferences rather than evidence. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post on August 20, he said critics “think I’m accusing the IDF of stealing organs. That’s not what I’m doing. I just recorded the Palestinian families saying that.” He went on to say “I don’t think there is a connection between the New York thing and what happened in the West Bank in the 90s.” Astonishingly, Mr. Bostrom nevertheless used the NY story in his leading paragraph together with a prominent photograph of one of the accused, a bearded Mr. Rosenbaum. More egregiously, Mr. Bostrom omitted to tell his readers that there were only five Jews among the 44 people arrested in the NY corruption and organ brokering scandal, including two New Jersey mayors, an assemblyman, and a city deputy mayor.

Evidently, when Israel is in the dock, an accusation doesn’t need to meet even the minimum requirements of journalistic integrity to be widely accepted.

The tenuous nature of Bostrom’s accusations are all too obvious when one considers that he refers to hearsay incidents in 1992, to imply that the IDF harvested organs in the Cast Lead operation in 2008-9

In enjoying his new fame, Mr. Bostrom is evidently not averse to exaggeration. On receiving an award for excellence from the National Federation of Algerian Journalists he casually increased the number of Palestinian victims whose body parts had been harvested, to more than 1,000.

Prof. Hiss
Most of the articles that followed Bostrom’s see a conspiratorial link between the IDF in 2009 and the unrelated 1990 incident in which Professor Hiss, who was then head of Israel’s forensic institute, admitted that he had harvested organs from cadavers without permission of their families. This incident closely resembles the Dick Van Velzen case in Britain cited above.

Israel’s Health Ministry responded that the guidelines at that time were not clear, but that they have been severely tightened and strictly enforced since then. Although Professor Hiss still works as chief pathologist, he was dismissed as head of the forensic institute.

Israel’s attorney-general Rubenstein at the time decided not to indict him since “there is no suspicion of corruption or profiteering on the part of Prof. Hiss, and the only interest he had was the advancement of medical research.”

There was a great deal of dissatisfaction with Rubenstein’s decision. Former Health Minister Dahan said he was sure that there was room for a criminal investigation but that there was at least one encouraging result, namely, that the questionable practices in the Forensic Institute would not continue.

Disgusting as this episode was, it is dishonest journalism to draw a false link from it to the IDF’s behavior in Operation Cast Lead.

Journalistic standards
Even one of Israel’s severest critics, Matthew Cassel, assistant editor of The Electronic Intifada, cannot close his eyes to the obvious defects in the Bostrom article. Cassel regards Bostrom’s baseless organ theft accusations as a propaganda gift for Israel. He wrote,

I support uncovering human rights violations and war crimes wherever they occur, especially in Palestine, where I have worked for many years. I do believe Bostrom’s intentions were to do much the same but that his process was highly irresponsible. The problem is not that he is accusing the State of Israel of wrongdoing, but that he is making accusations of what would amount to extremely serious war crimes while providing absolutely no evidence to support his claims…

The editors at the Swedish daily Aftonbladet who published this piece, should’ve sent it back to the author and told him to investigate the issue further until he found evidence to corroborate his claims.

Like all types of incitement to hate, this example of reckless journalism, is harmful to peace efforts. Like real viruses and computer viruses they spread and mutate and acquire long lasting lives of their own. Predictably, Boström’s story has spawned cartoons of Jews stealing body parts and drinking Arab blood. Algeria’s al-Khabar newspaper has fantasized Jewish-directed gangs of Algerians and Moroccans capturing children for harvesting of their body parts.

Even Al Jazeera Magazine has been infected with the hysteria. In a December 3, article it refers to an international Israeli conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs and repeats a Pravda story that Israel has brought some 25,000 Ukrainian children into the occupied entity over the past two years in order to harvest their organs.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.