Remember Freedom Fries, which in some traitorous circles used to be known as pommes frites? Who remembers what all that petulant Franco-bashing was about? Something about France standing in the way of the Bush-Cheney-Rumseld onrush to war against Saddam way back in the dark ages of 2003 (or so). France’s refusal to rubber-stamp our efforts in the UN to paint Saddam as the contemporary equivalent of Hitler brought on a spasm of anti-French feeling that was typically petty for the neocon right. Hate those elitist French eggheads who represent everything that Republicans are not: intellectuals, lovers of culture and art, gourmands, etc.
Well, from the fire-breathing coming out of the Lieberman Israeli foreign ministry it seems that Sweden is set to become the new France. A Swedish daily published an op-ed piece (for anyone knowing Swedish) claiming that the IDF was harvesting the vital organs of young Palestinian prisoners and possibly selling them on the black market. In short, the story appears to be sheer lunacy. The writer provides no evidence other than the reports of the family members of the victims (who in truth were killed by the IDF). There is no confirmation whatsoever from any Israeli source of the phenomenon and no left-wing Israeli journalist who might have quite an interest in such a story were it plausible, has reported anything like this.
But instead of ignoring this stupid story, Lieberman decides the appropriate thing to do is virtually declare war on Sweden. He trots out the “big guns” of the Jewish historical arsenal: “blood libel,” Jew-hatred, anti-Semitism, you name it. He demanded the Swedes formally and officially denounce the article. Israel’s highly experienced and highly democratic foreign minister seems not to realize that in democracies governments don’t generally interfere in journalistic matters. There is something called a free press which, since Israel doesn’t really enjoy one, is an alien notion to Yvette.
It’s not clear what Israel will do if Sweden doesn’t capitulate. Stop buying Volvos? Stop making Swedish meatballs? Maybe the IAF will make a few bombing runs over Stockholm as part of their training to knock out Iran’s nuclear capability? Recall its ambassador? Lieberman has actually talked of personally suing the reporter for libel. It seems the foreign ministry must run itself so well that the minister has time on his hands to get involved in shtuyot like this.
Thus Sweden in 2009 has everything that France had in 2003: socialist political traditions, sympathy for Palestinian suffering, a reputation for caution and deliberation in world affairs, not to mention blondness and a cold climate. In short, everything Israel is not. It’s making Lieberman see, well not red since he’s not particularly fond of socialism–perhaps orange, since that’s a color to which he’s clearly more partial.
The whole thing begins to remind me of that Marx Brothers movie in which one of the boys becomes the prime minister of Fredonia and goes to war over some imagined slight by an official of another government. Does Israel, in this case, have grounds to be sore? Sure. Does it have grounds to make an international incident out of it? Not at all. Such full-throated jingoism is the mark of a hard-right government looking for an issue to rally its supporters. This is the equivalent of Terry Schiavo for Tom DeLay or well, Freedom Fries.
The best response I can think of is Rick’s in Casablanca:
…It doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you’ll understand that.
I doubt Lieberman ever will. But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t see things for what they really are. And this tempest in a teacup story simply doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
Alex Stein says
“Israel’s highly experienced and highly democratic foreign minister seems not to realize that in democracies governments don’t generally interfere in journalistic matters. There is something called a free press which, since Israel doesn’t really enjoy one, is an alien notion to Yvette.”
And, in Sweden’s case, unless you’re talking about a cartoon that depicts the prophet Muhammad…
From what I’ve seen, the Swedish government had the same reaction to the the Muhammad cartoons. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?
As for the article, digging around a bit I found the Jerusalem post claims Ma’an backs it , though the only mention of the topic I could find on Ma’an’s site was a report of the PFLP calling for an investigation. Exhuming a few bodies to insure all their parts are there should put the matter to rest.
Alex Stein says
The Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laila Frevalds, said “We support the freedom of speech, that I think is very clear. But at the same time it is important to say that with this freedom comes a certain responsibility, and it could be objectionable to act in a way that insults people.”
The nationalist party Swedish Democrats (Sverigedemokraterna) started a competition to draw cartoons of Muhammed on their web site. After words of exhortation from the Swedish government, and in particular from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laila Freivalds, the website was shut down. When the story caught wider attention, Freivalds felt it necessesary to resign as Minister for having interfered with press freedom.
Yeah, freedom of the press is the trump in both cases. Are you having trouble comprehending that?
Besides France, England, the US, and now Sweden, the “Moldavian Candidate” seems ready to take on the entire EU. Lieberman is also ticked at the Netherlands for funding “Breaking the Silence.” It’s rather amusing that the main guy in Israel picking fights with the rest of the world is the Former Bouncer now called Foreign Minister. He may have to go back to his former profession.
Sorry to post twice, but is there a nation that Israel does get along with?
Richard Silverstein says
Israel’s pretty partial to El Salvador since it’s the only nation in the world that recognizes Israel’s claim to a “united” Jerusalem as its capital.
What about Micronesia? I thought Micronesia was in favour of anything Israel did. You mean there is one thing they DON’T go along with?
Richard Silverstein says
I’d heard that too. But when I checked only little El Salvador supported Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided capital for all eternity.”
Richy Dick Nebestein says
[comment deleted for comment rule violations]
Israel used to have a minister for religious affairs by the name of Avner Shaki, who once said – without the slightest hint of self-irony – that “anti-Semitism is one of the worst forms of racism”. At the time I thought that would be hard to top. An editor at “Maariv” may have just outdone the late minister, referring to the Swedish affair as “blond racism”.
Yeah, Sweden is a real simmering hot-bed of anti-Semitism, a bunch of jack-booted fascists last time I looked?! When are Israeli right-wingers like Lieberman, as well as the Israel lobby generally, going to learn that demonizing whole countries like this, particularly European ones, is not an effective way of making friends and influencing people. This charge is (very sadly) becoming a joke to many, with less and less people taking it seriously because of its insane application and willy-nilly overuse. In the American context, Jimmy Carter, Walt and Mearsheimer, and countless others have had the tar-brush. Edward Said has been called a “Nazi”. The Frogs came in for similar treatment a while back, now the Scandinavians. Give it a rest.
Having said this, that Swedish article appears to be un-founded and therefore quite disturbing and possibly anti-Jewish in intent for that reason, thoughtful Swedes should condemn this yellow journalism.
This is at least the second time around for that story. Some years ago there was a virtually identical story that made the rounds, complete with photographs of the alleged victims, showing the incisions that were supposedly made in order to remove the organs. The think was that those incisions were absolutely consistent with the incision universally used in autopsies. not for harvesting organs. As I recall, it turned out that the photos were taken in Palestinian morgues, and the bodies had been autopsied by Palestinian pathologists.
And of course the majority of organs for donation must be taken from the bodies that are still at least nominally alive, which is why they need to be harvested before patients are taken off live support. That means that the only way for this story to be at all plausible would be if the people were kidnapped while alive, and returned dead with the organs missing. The story does not appear to make that clear at all.
How much longer before Sweden becomes the Denmark of the world’s Jewry?
Could you expound on this a bit?
I can read and speak Swedish, ten years Swedish in school and a work period in Stockholm.
In the first part of Boström’s article is described the alleged organ trades of US Rabbi and the reasons for the desperate organ need in Israel. Mostly the same that can be found on wikipedia’s page
The second part of article Boström describes his personal experiences on West Bank and in Gaza and tells what Palestinians told him.
In the two last chapters Bostöm says:
“We know that the need for organs is great in Israel,that a widespread illegal organ trade is happening for a long time, that happens authorities knowing it, that highly trained doctors like other officials on different levels in the big hospitals participate to it. And we know that young Palestinian men did disappear, that they were brought back five days later under secrecy in the night cut open and sewed up.
It is time to get clarity to that macabre activity what is happening and had happened on the occupied areas since the start of intifada.”
Let us remember that
* Israel was expelled from the European Union Organ Donor Network
* Israel has refused to criminalize organ trading (why?)
* Israelis are given up to $80,000 to pay for organs abroad (obviously in the style no questions asked)
The core of the problem is not what is written in a Swedish newspaper.
William Smart says
Lieberman is the most appalling racist and dabbles in genocidal threats, both in speeches to the violent land-thieves that are his constituency and in the Knesset. (Amongst many other things, he offered buses to drown 1000s of Palestinians held by Israel in the Dead Sea).
Israel needs reminding that in 2000, 14 EU states boycotted Austria for having the nationalist and possible racist Jorge Haider in government as leader of a coalition party. For months, other national leaders refused to shake hands or socialize with his coalition SPO members and Haider was forced to give up the leadership of his FPO party. Nor were Austrians forced into these measures – they’d recognized the problem and in 1986 had started the ostracising of him, the FPO was forced out of a government coalition when Haider first became its leader.
The late Jorg Haiders “crimes” shouldn’t be under-estimated, but they were cultural and entirely non-violent. (One of the most serious seems to have been his saying that the Nazi government had produced a “proper employment policy” as compared to the SPÖ government – unfortunately, the need for translation means we’ve no way of knowing what emphasis was in there or what the context was – whereas Lieberman’s threats are direct and specific).
Here endeth the lesson – we’ll wait for ever to see Israelis or the state of Israel act on those very “Lessons of the Holocaust” they insist we must learn and act upon.