The Israelis are currently in a state of agitation due to a Swedish newspaper article that accused Israeli soldiers of selling the organs of Palestinians that they had killed. The Israeli government considers this to be a crime; unfortunately I am talking about the publication of the article rather than the theft of organs. The Israelis consider the publication of this article to be a crime against both Jews around the world and the Israeli people, and the government has said that it will accept nothing less than an apology from the Stockholm government.
The Swedish ambassador to Tel Aviv attempted to satisfy the Israelis by issuing a statement in which she described the newspaper article as unacceptable, and said that the newspaper had not acted responsibly by publishing it. However the Swedish government decided not to bow to the Israelis demand and consider the ambassador’s statement not to be an official position. The Swedish government believes this to be a media issue that does not require an official position or an apology, and that the freedom of the press is guaranteed in the Swedish constitution.
The story is that the largest Swedish newspaper published a report about a Palestinian who died and whose body was only sent back to his family after an unnecessary autopsy was performed [by the Israelis]. This incident took place after the US had announced that the FBI had arrested a group of criminals who were trafficking in black-market organs. This came to light after a Jewish man was arrested in New York by the FBI for attempting to buy a kidney from an Israeli for $160,000. This suspicious link was sufficient for the newspapers to justify publishing this article, and because the article included a denial from an Israeli official, it met with the publishing standards.
We might assume that the Israelis would be accustomed to political criticism as a result of their occupation of land which does not belong to them, and their brutal military policies. The world has become accustomed to ignoring what is written and said about Israeli, but this is one of the few times that they are facing a media scandal, regardless of whether the story proves to be true or fabricated. Attacking and threatening the media is usually not accepted, especially in the West.
On the other hand, the dispute which has broken out between the Israeli and Swedish governments has aided the Arab and Islamic world. The Arabs have become known as opponents of the freedom of the press, unable to tolerate criticism at any time or place, and wanting to impose control on the media everything. It seems that we are now on a level par with the Israelis, who did not remain silent [in the face of these accusations], but continued to protest against the Swedes, accusing them of racism, anti-Semitism, and telling lies to the Israeli people. Fortunately, the newspaper in question refused to back down to the Israelis, and stubbornly continued to reveal more details about the incident. Israel is unable to deal with such dangerous accusations except with a gag order.
What is preventing the Israeli authorities from undertaking an investigation into these accusations in order to prove their falsehood to the world?
The political agitation on the part of the Israeli government can be explained by one of two things; either the story is true, and may necessitate an international investigation on the grounds that the crimes were committed against victims under occupation, or the Israeli government and especially its notorious Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman may wish to incite a clash with the Swedes in order to represent themselves in a heroic manner. This comes after Lieberman’s problems with Prime Minister Netanyahu have increased, and he is facing charges of corruption that may end his political career.
I hope that the Swedish government maintains its position of not giving in to Israeli pressure to curb its media, because if it did no other European media would be able to refuse to apologize for or to prevent an article’s publication.