ISRAEL’S DEMONISATION OF SWEDEN

demonization

  
Netanyahu’s Swedish theatre and the reality of the occupation 
By Adam Keller

For days the Israeli political establishment and mainstream media engaged in an unrestrained campaign of demonization of Sweden. Only after having already castigated Swedes as “antisemites” did mass circulation newspaper Yediot Aharonot take the elementary journalistic step of sending a reporter to check the facts. Ronny Shaked’s Aug. 24 article revealed no organ harvesting horror – but showed quite clearly how such a story could emerge from the grim occupation reality.

It is an old story, going back seventeen years, the story of a young man named Bilal Ahmad Ghanem from the small West Bank village of Amatin. Ghanem was one of those which official Israel castigates as terrorists and their own people praise as freedom fighters. In the early 1990’s he figured on the Israeli “wanted” list.

In May 1992 Israel was in the midst of a crucial elections campaign. Opposition leader Yitzchak Rabin was asking for the voters’ mandate on a pledge to make peace with the Palestinians – a pledge he would eventually seriously try to implement and for which he would pay with his own life three and a half years later. All of that was part of a future, which Bilal Ahmad Ghanem would not live to see. On the night of May 13, 1992, Israeli hunters ambushed him outside his parents’ home, and killed him on the spot with a bullet directly to the heart. This in itself excludes the possibility that Ghanem’s organs were used for transplantation. It is an elementary medical fact that organs are taken from brain-dead patients whose heart is still beating.

There was not, and could not have been, a “harvesting of organs”. But it is true that Ghanem’s body was taken away, restored to the family only after a week, in which it evidently was subjected to an autopsy, to which the family did not consent nor was asked for consent. (In Israel itself, an autopsy is only performed with the consent of the family or by court order, but such rules do not apply in military-ruled territory). When at last the body was given back, the family was shocked to see a scar running from his neck down to his abdomen. They were not given much time to speculate, and nobody was there to answer questions. Soldiers on the spot urged them to get on with the funeral and disperse to their homes. A Swedish journalist made some photos of Ghanem’s scarred body – arousing the ire of the soldiers, who promptly confiscated his camera. But he had managed to extract the film and throw it among the bushes. On the following day he returned, recovered the photos and recorded the angry and pained reactions of Ghanem’s mother, who could not be expected to know or care about medical facts and the conditions where organ transplanting is or is not possible.

The photos and report were published in 1992 Sweden, without getting much attention. They were included as one of many items in an 2001 book on the situation in the Occupied Territories, to whose publication the Government of Sweden apparently contributed though it was unlikely to have closely and minutely supervised its contents. Again, not many people noticed or paid attention. And now it has surfaced again and became – seventeen years after the fact – the center of a raging storm.

Why resurrect this affair at exactly this time? Possibly because the mass killing of civilians in the recent Gaza war, which is an undoubted fact, has made also implausible Israeli atrocities seem plausible. But even so, a newspaper should have carefully checked its facts, and any doctor could have told them that this particular accusation could not be true. There had been a month ago an ugly case of illicit trade in organs for transplantation, in which the American citizens implicated happened to be Jewish. But linking this affair with the misconduct of the armed forces of Israel was an ugly and unacceptable analogy which the editors of “Aftonbladet” should have avoided. Still, there was no need for the Netanyahu Government to blow it up to a head-on confrontation between the two countries. Indeed, the leaders of the Jewish community in Sweden were far from pleased with the Israeli overreaction. But the Israeli government did not act out of concern for them. It had its own specific agenda for making the maximum noise.

Almost from the first day he assumed power, Netanyahu is under constant pressure from President Barack Obama to cease all settlement activity in the occupied territories. The fanatic hardliners in his cabinet call for Israel to defy all pressures, continue and extend the building of Jewish settlements and tell the Americans to go to hell. Deep in his heart Netanyahu might sympathize – but he knows well enough that such a course would be suicidal, and that it would be Israel which would get to hell in short order. Sweden is a convenient alternative target, which could be attacked with relative impunity. Moreover, Sweden – having the Presidency of European Union – has itself quite recently lodged a strong protest about the settlements and the expulsion of Palestinian families from their homes is the Sheikh Jarah Neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. It makes perfect sense for Netanyahu to try and put the Swedish government on the defensive.

The row also helps to divert the criticism on Netanyahu from inside his government coalition. Israel’s historically-loaden ambivalent relation to Europe is a Pandora box easily opened.

On the one hand, Israelis like to think of themselves as belonging to Europe; on the other hand when encountering criticism, wild accusations of antisemitism immediately fly around and the history of the Second World War and the Holocaust is very selectively referenced.

Israelis are delighted that their country was admitted to the European Song Festival and that their football and basketball teams can participate in European championships. But the same people would not opt for Israel becoming subject to the authority of the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, and to have that court give the actions of the Israeli armed forces the kind of scrutiny it gave to the British army in North Ireland.

In today’s Europe it is taken for granted that a democratic state is, by definition, “The State of All Its Citizens”. The Israeli mainstream would like Israel to be accepted as a European State while rejecting any such definition and insisting that “A State of All Its Citizens” is a subversive and extremist idea where Israel is concerned.

The present confrontation with Sweden is the latest – and probably not the last – of such cases.

Written at the invitation of the Swedish weekly ‘Efter Arbetet’ for its Aug. 28 edition

 

Source

12 Comments

  1. brian said,

    August 27, 2009 at 14:21

    ‘Only after having already castigated Swedes as “antisemites” did mass circulation newspaper Yediot Aharonot take the elementary journalistic step of sending a reporter to check the facts. Ronny Shaked’s Aug. 24 article revealed no organ harvesting horror –’

    sorry,but thats NOT an independent investigation or investigator! No israeli can be trusted to investigate crimes against palestinians…It must be an organisation like the international red cross…

  2. brian said,

    August 27, 2009 at 14:24

    ‘Possibly because the mass killing of civilians in the recent Gaza war, which is an undoubted fact, has made also implausible Israeli atrocities seem plausible’

    now we enter a twilight zone…where mass killings are plausible to the point they dont get media coverage or raise israeli hackles…but organ harvesting does…..is mass killing now a civilised activity?

  3. brian said,

    August 27, 2009 at 14:28

    ‘in which it evidently was subjected to an autopsy, to which the family did not consent nor was asked for consent.’

    that word ‘autopsy’ makes it seem legitimate, professional…but what does it conceal? Is Keller running defence for the bodysnatchers?

    Kellers article reveals a jekyl and hyde character in Israel….so its quiet plausible that murdered palestinians are robbed of their organs, when they are regarded as 3rd class unpeople.

  4. brian said,

    August 27, 2009 at 14:31

    ‘There had been a month ago an ugly case of illicit trade in organs for transplantation, in which the American citizens implicated happened to be Jewish. But linking this affair with the misconduct of the armed forces of Israel was an ugly and unacceptable analogy which the editors of “Aftonbladet” should have avoided’

    does keller mean the ‘most moral army in the world; is incapable of any atrocity?>…The same army last war with gaza, herded familes into a building and then shellled it…The IDF lets pregant palestinian(not jewish) women abort at checkpoints…

    You work it out….

  5. l7v7ll7v7l said,

    August 27, 2009 at 15:22

    Re: “ugly case of illicit trade in organs for transplantation” and “linking this affair with the misconduct of the armed forces of Israel”

    The Swedish piece says, about the Rosenbaum organ trafficking affair: “It was all about buying and selling kidneys from Israel on the black market.”

    While the “analogy” (wrong word) may indeed be “ugly,” it’s hardly “unacceptable”–rather, given the known facts, it seems plausible and worthy of further impartial investigation by a non-Israeli party.

  6. andrea said,

    August 27, 2009 at 19:51

    In addition to the “autopsy” scar, Bilal Ahmad Ghanem was missing his teeth. Cadaver teeth are used for implantation.
    This article attempts to make the organ harvesting a fallacy based on a shot to the heart. However, it never addresses the removal of the teeth.
    Additionally, the organs of cadavers have other uses if they are not viable for transplant.
    The bottom line is that Bilal Ahmad Ghanem was missing parts of his body because Israel stole them. First, israel stole his life, then his body parts. It is heinous. No matter what Israel is doing with the body parts (and there are many many many cases of missing organs) it is not something the majority of people in the world would find acceptable or humane.

  7. Eddie said,

    August 27, 2009 at 20:02

    Its an old story:

    “Infamous Chief Pathologist to Once Again Evade Punishment

    (IsraelNN.com) 09/26/05
    According to the arrangement, the prosecution will request that Prof. Hiss receive only a reprimand for his involvement in the unauthorized removal of parts from 125 bodies. In exchange, Hiss will admit to the acts. The plea bargain is subject to the approval of the court.

    In all of the 125 cases, Dr. Hiss and his subordinates removed organs, bones and tissue without the permission of, and in many cases, against the expressed wishes of the families of the deceased.”

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/90518

  8. Sephardi said,

    August 27, 2009 at 20:41

    “It is an elementary medical fact that organs are taken from brain-dead patients whose heart is still beating.”

    The Gazan teenagers who were kidnapped by the IDF were taken alive leading one to conclusions that are almost too horrifying to contemplate.

    Is anything known of their whereabouts?

  9. michael mazur said,

    August 28, 2009 at 11:14

    Kawther Salam writes;

    `If it is not true that Israelis are harvesting the organs of murdered Palestinians, then why were they transferring the bodies of their victims to be butchered at Abu Kabir? The reasons of the death were known. The victims all received bullets in the head, or in the chest by Israeli snipers.
    After all the whining and screeching of the Israelis after the Swedish newspaper article, the fact stands that hundreds, perhaps thousands of bodies and even people known to have been alive were transferred to the Abu Kabir autopsy center and returned to their families stuffed with cotton. Hundreds of victims who were buried in the dark by their families, and hundreds or thousands more bodies which Israel keeps in their numbered graves`.

    Could Adam Keller address whether it is true, as she says, that Israel keeps hundreds or thousands more bodies in their numbered graves ?

    Could he refute her statement that bodies were returned to relatives stuffed with cotton ?

  10. michael mazur said,

    August 28, 2009 at 13:57

    Adam Keller does not refer to the Swedish paper Aftonbladet – nor the author Donald Bostrom of that article about the raiding of Palestinians for their organs which appeared on the 17th, rather he alludes to a secondary source which is naturally dismissive of the allegations.

    So by the end of the very first paragraph the direction for the rest of the article has now been set, and Adam Keller is then at liberty to stray and to embroider around the unrelated matters of Israeli and European politics centred on the interplay of the themes of the Holocaust and human rights – and so on, or over the hills and far away, and finally to a European Song Festival and a definition of what is a democratic state.

    Uh ? Where were we ?

  11. August 28, 2009 at 17:56

    [...] ISRAEL’S DEMONISATION OF SWEDEN « Desertpeace desertpeace.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/israels-demonisation-of-sweden – view page – cached #RSS 2.0 Desertpeace » ISRAEL’S DEMONISATION OF SWEDEN Comments Feed Desertpeace CRACKDOWN ON JUSTICE~~ AN OCCUPATION WITHIN THE OCCUPATION ‘I COME TO BURY TED KENNEDY, NOT TO PRAISE HIM’ ISRAEL JUST DOESN’T GIVE A DAMN WHAT YOU THINK — From the page [...]

  12. brian said,

    August 29, 2009 at 04:23

    more on the organ harvesting issue:

    1. from Alison Weir:
    extensive article on this issue:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/weir08282009.html

    2.
    Donald Boström has spoken to about 20 of the Palestinian families who had a loved one that ended up in the same conditions as Bilal. They have their suspicions as to what happened. It is hardly surprising then that Boström is not the only one to have come across suspicions of organ theft. Dr. A. Clare Brandabur, teaching at the Department of American Culture and Literature at Fatih University in Istanbul, Turkey, has lived and travelled extensively in Palestine. Upon reading about the affair, Dr. Brandabur commented:
    This information resonates with reports from Palestinians in Gaza which I heard during the first Intifada. When I interviewed Dr. Haidar Abdul Shafi, head of the Red Crescent in Gaza, I mentioned to him reports of shootings of Palestinian children at times when there were no “clashes” going on — a solitary 6 year old entering his school-yard in the morning with his book-bag on his back. The soldiers abducted the wounded child at gunpoint, then his body would be returned a few days later having undergone an “autopsy at Abu Kabir Hospital.” I asked Dr. Shafi if he had considered the possibility that these killings were being done for organ transplant, since (as Israel Shahak notes in Jewish History, Jewish Religion, it is not allowed to take Jewish organs to save a Jewish life, but it is allowed to take the organs of non-Jews to save Jewish lives. Dr. Shafi said he had suspected such things but since they had no access to the records of Abu Kabi Hospital, there was no way to verify these suspicions.3

    http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/the-organ-theft-affair/

    The real demons are in israel….they hate being exposed as Bostroms piece has done.


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