To my discredit, I've not discussed the fallout from the alleged "blood libel" article by Daniel Bostrom, which was published in Sweden's largest morning daily, Aftonbladet. The piece called for an investigation into claims that the Israelis harvested organs from killed Palestinians during the 1988-1992 intifada. The article led to screams of anti-Semitism, as exemplified by this
: "You may be too young to remember, but this is how it began in Germany."
Or, as a rival Swedish paper
"Whispers in the dark. Anonymous sources. Rumors. That is all it takes. After all we all know what they [the Jews] are like, don't we: inhuman, hardened. Capable of anything," the opinion piece says. "Now all that remains is the defense, equally predictable: 'Anti-Semitism' No, no, just criticism of Israel."
In other words, any criticism of Israel constitutes anti-Semitism.
As a follow-up piece
in Aftonbladet (written by another author) notes:
So far, none of the journalists I have spoken to have read the article - the foreign editor at Matan Drori thought he had, with the help of a Google dictionary - but through Swedish bloggers, they knew that Aftonbladet had reproduced images of Jews who drink blood and eat children.
Contrary to the mischaracterizations of the Bostrom article in the English-language media, the piece (which I was the first to translate
into English) does not revel in rumor and innuendo. Instead, it describes incidents which the author personally investigated while in the occupied territories in 1992. Bostrom attempts to get more than one side of the story, and he ends not with a condemnation of Israel but with call for investigation.
Not an unreasonable request, in my view. Had Bostrom written about any other nation, no one would question his fairness. But, as the follow-up piece
notes, "...for some reason normal journalistic rules are out of play when it comes to Israel."
As I keep reminding readers, author David Yallop encountered the same reports of organ theft while in the same place at the same time. Yallop's book, oddly enough, did not provoke international outrage. Neither did Bostrom's 2001 volume, Inshallah
-- even though that work carries the same story. (Or so I've been given to understand; I've not read it.) Neither did the investigative pieces published by Boston journalist Mary Barrett.
So why is the Israeli government suddenly screaming like an air raid siren? I can only presume that they hope to deflect attention from the FBI's recent arrest of a rabbi in New Jersey on organ harvesting charges. If you read the details of the FBI complaint, you will soon start to wonder how the NJ ring could have operated without covert aid from officials in Israel.
Are all allegations of Israeli organ harvesting a matter of mere rumor? Consider this,
from an excellent article by Alison Weir:
Israel’s very first, historic heart transplant used a heart removed from a living patient without consent or consulting his family.
Further in the same well-footnoted piece:
In still another 2007 story, the Jerusalem Post reported that “Professor Zaki Shapira, one of Israel's leading transplant surgeons, was arrested in Turkey on Thursday on suspicion of involvement in an organ trafficking ring. According to the report, the transplants were arranged in Turkey and took place at private hospitals in Istanbul.”
Oddly enough, The Economist
did not arouse international cries of "anti-Semitism" last year, when it published a piece that some might consider more controversial than Bostrom's. Bostrom wrote of events from 1992, while this
brings the matter closer to current times:
Another kidney racket flourished in South Africa between 2001 and 2003. Donors were recruited in Brazil, Israel and Romania with offers of $5,000-20,000 to visit Durban and forfeit a kidney. The 109 recipients, mainly Israelis, each paid up to $120,000 for a “transplant holiday”; they pretended they were relatives of the donors and that no cash changed hands.
The same article goes on to discuss the organ trade in China. As before, I must ask: Why is discussion of Israeli participation in this trade considered racist, while discussion of China's role is not?
The Weir piece gives a precis of the strange tale of Alisdair Sinclair, a Scot who died under rather mysterious circumstances in 1998 while in Israeli custody. The body lacked a heart when it was returned home to Scotland. The resultant uproar forced Dr. Yehusa Hiss, who ran the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, to step down.Hiss
was previously accused of harvesting organs from fallen IDF soldiers:
In this case, as in many previous cases, the family is demanding an investigation and the dismissal of chief pathologist Prof. Yehuda Hiss. Other cases also document that Hiss and his staff took organs without requesting or informing relatives. Jars containing body parts of civilians and soldiers have been found in the forensic institute, but to date, no government agency has taken any action against Hiss, not even the minimum - suspending him from duty pending an investigation.
If the organ theft story is a matter of mere "rumor," then why was a real doctor named -- and why was that doctor removed from his position?This story
in Ha'aretz -- no-one's idea of an anti-Semitic source -- notes that the heroic Nancy Scheper-Hughes was the first to inform of FBI of the New Jersey organ theft ring run by Isaac Rosenbaum. Alas, neither Ha'aretz nor any other mainstream source has followed up on Sheper-Hughes' further revelation (as delivered in interviews and speeches) that the Rosenbaum ring was run out of Israel -- was, in fact, part of a worldwide enterprise run by a mysterious Israeli named Ilan Peri.
Not even Scheper-Hughes has dared to mention in public that an Israeli army officer named Geldaya Tauber Gady (listed in most news stories as Geldaya Tauber) testified in a Brazilian court that the ring was run by a shadowy man named Ilan, who was an agent of the Israeli government
. (For links, see here.
Should we discount as mere "rumor" courtroom testimony, under oath, from an IDF officer?
Back in 2004, the New York Times
-- rarely considered an anti-Semitic journal -- took a closer look at the Brazilian arm of this international ring:
All told, the police in Brazil estimate that about 100 men, nearly all poor or unemployed, ages 20 to 40, agreed to sell kidneys. Though some would eventually be rejected for having an unusual blood type, frail health or signs of drug use, more than 60 men are believed to have gone to South Africa.
Recife and its slums had become so lucrative a source for organs, in fact, that Brazilian investigators believe that by late 2003, Israeli brokers, in an effort to swell their earnings further, were considering moving their operations to hospitals here and in other nearby cities.
With poverty offering up an unquenchable pool of volunteers, the local authorities say the ring had also begun inquiring about buying other vital organs from poor residents, including lungs, livers and corneas.
The same article speaks of a "syndicate that brokered transplants." Keep in mind that Geldaya Tauber (whose conviction is mentioned in this NYT piece) testified that an Israeli official ran this syndicate. I wonder why the NYT did not come under fire for promoting a blood libel, as did Aftonbladet?
Apparently, the Jerusalem Post is another "anti-Semitic" rag. A 2007 story
discusses an illegal organ harvesting ring run by Israelis. The group paid impoverished Ukrainians for their kidneys. This was probably the same ring discussed by Scheper-Hughes.
Professor Scheper-Hughes has not yet been accused of anti-Semitism, but I won't be surprised to see her come under media attack. From a piece
she wrote on August 20:
Israel has recently become something of a pariah in the transplant world. Without a strong culture of organ donation and under the pressure of angry transplant candidates, the Ministry of Health has refused to crack down on the country's multi-million dollar business in transplant tourism that arranges junkets from dialysis clinics in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to medical centres in Europe and the United States
"Why should we Israelis be made to travel to third world clinics to get the kidneys we need to survive from the bodies of peasants, soldiers, or guest workers who may be in worse physical shape than ourselves?" a 71-year-old "kidney buyer" from Tel Aviv asked me rhetorically. "Organs should be seen as a human, not as a national resource." It was good to see "Avirham," an elderly gentleman, alive and happy with his revitalizing 22-year-old "peasant" kidney. And his living donor? "A peasant, without anything!" he replied. "Do you have any idea what $1,000, let alone $5,000 means in the life of a peasant?"
As you ponder the moral idiocy of a man in his 70s buying a few extra years of life at the expense of a "peasant" in his early 20s, consider this:.
Human strip mining of the dead for usable parts is not limited to former police states in South Africa, Brazil, and Argentina. Similar practices can be found in one of the wealthiest communities of the United States. In the fall of 1999, I sat in a diner in Hollywood with Jim C., notorious "organs broker" who solicited international buyers and sellers from his home. "There's no reason for anyone to die in this country while waiting for a heart or a kidney to materialize. There are plenty of spare organs to be had in other parts of the world."
I don't know who Jim C is. One day I will. And I will write about him. Be warned, Jim.
Let's take a closer look at the tactics employed by those who would have us believe that no-one is Israel could be capable of such actions. This fellow
considers Bostrom a conspiracy theorist weaving a "feverish antisemitic tapestry." His evidence? Bostrom's piece had quoted "Francis Delmonici," professor of transplant surgery at Harvard, who confirmed the involvement of Israelis in the trade. The response:
That Delmonici guy shows up all over the internet, although strangely only in posts about this article and its copies.
The implication: The professor is fictional. Bostrom, presumably maddened by the fever of Judeophobia, concocted the name and the (indirect) quote.
That's not true -- although the name did get slightly garbled. Dr. Francis Delmonico
really is a professor of transplant surgery at Harvard; he is also on the board of the National Kidney Foundation. To my knowledge, he has never denied the sentiments attributed to him -- as he surely would have done, if they did not reflect his actual beliefs.
His internet presence is hardly relegated to the Bostrom piece. He also co-authored this article
with Nancy Scheper-Hughes on the morality of paying for transplanted organs, as well as a number of scholarly pieces on "transplant tourism."
He has written extensively about the organ trade in the Philippines, Turkey and Brazil.
Finally, for those of you do not automatically dismiss the writings of a Palestinian (the way an Alabma jury in 1936 would have automatically discounted testimony from a black man), consider this piece
by journalist Kawther Salam:
My personal experience confirms what Mr. Boström wrote: while I do not know the particular case which he describes, it is typical for what the Israelis do in Palestine all the time, what is “normal” since the early seventies.
The Israeli military occupation started in the early 1970s to capture and keep the bodies of the Palestinians who they murdered... Since the early seventies, thousands of Palestinian victims of the occupation were “autopsied”, and many of their bodies kept in military numbered graves. Most members of the resistance who were killed were taken for “autopsy”, and also those who were wounded were abducted from the hospital by the Israelis
The director of the Jerusalem Center for Democracy and Human Rights, Salim Khalleh, stated that their organization has been able to document 270 cases of Palestinian bodies “reserved” in hands of the Israeli occupation, which are buried in numbered graves in secret military cemeteries, or in numbered compartments of cooling facilities. Among these cases, 24 are of Palestinian citizens of the city of Tulkarem. On 8 April 2009 the families of these persons whose bodies are still in the power of the israelis held a demonstration in Tulkarem. The demonstrators presented a petition to the director of Red Cross, in which they demanded that the international organizations make pressure on Israel to release the bodies of their sons.(Note: A few hours after publication, I heavily re-wrote this piece for style. The substance remains unaltered, although I added a section on the Aftonbldet follow-up piece. Yes, I used Google's translation service, perhaps ironically. As before, I ask Swedish readers to correct any errors.)