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Background from DEBKAfile: "Donald Bostom's Aftonbladet article drew on one Palestinian family's claim in the 1990s that they suspected the Israeli military of stealing the organs of their son whose body was returned five days later after he was killed by Israeli forces. Their suspicion was based on a cut in his midsection. Another 20 Palestinian families then stepped up with the same charge." [See Editor's Notes below for additional information from the DEBKAfile and for a reprint of the original article.]

Over the centuries, Jews have learned to take blood libels seriously. They are frequently the occasion for mobs massacring jews.


by Robin Shepherd


The original story was published on August 17, 2009. This article examines what happened after the article was published.

August 22, 2009

Sweden runs for cover as foreign ministry refuses to condemn anti-Semitic outrage

One suspects that there would have been a different reaction if this had been about racism against blacks. But Sweden has now made it clear that it will not condemn the country's best selling newspaper for running a two-page spread earlier this week which alleged that Israeli soldiers kidnap Palestinian children to cut out their bodily organs for sale.

This website contacted the Swedish foreign ministry in Sweden asking for clarification. A ministry spokesman, Anders Jorle, said that the Swedish government had "no position on the allegations" and quoted from the blog of foreign minister Carl Bildt where he said that "freedom of expression and press freedom are very strong in our constitution by tradition."

The story, which ran in the Aftonbladet newspaper, also sought to link the wholly unsubstantiated allegations with the recent arrest in the United States of an American Jew on suspicion of planning to trade a human kidney on the black market. A modernised form of the ancient blood libel against the Jewish people was thus compounded with the inference of collective guilt.

It is strange to say the least that Sweden should invoke freedom of expression as a reason for its silence. If free speech is given such a premium why does the foreign ministry not exercise its own right to free expression by stating a position?

Moreover, if free expression is so sacrosanct why was the Swedish ambassador to Israel forced by the foreign ministry to remove her initial remarks from the embassy's website in which she said the article was "shocking and appalling"?

Sweden is not being asked to engage in political censorship. It is being asked to do what it does all the time, not least in its frequent criticisms of Israel. It is being asked to make a statement of its political values.

Consider how easy it would have been for the foreign ministry to do the following: to condemn anti-Semitic blood libels, to denounce collective guilt, and to say that it finds baseless allegations about organ theft in Israel deplorable. It would not even have had to make direct reference to the paper in question. But they could not even bring themselves to do that.

To invoke the free speech argument in this case looks more like hiding behind a principle than standing up for one. I think we all know what's at work.

Postscript: On the basis of an alert reader of this site, I am updating this post to reveal the following.

The Swedish government has not in fact defended free speech with the vigour that is now claimed. On February 10, 2006 the BBC reported that the website of a far-Right political party's newspaper had been closed down in relation to the Danish cartoon controversy during which cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad caused mass protests by Muslim groups in Europe and around the world.

The Swedish government had been instrumental, the BBC reported, in pushing the website's host to pull the plug. The newspaper called Kuriren — the paper of the Swedish Democrats — had called on readers to submit their own cartoons of Mohammad in solidarity with the Danish originators of the controversy who were in hiding in fear for their lives.

Showing none of the high-minded support for the complete independence of the press now being claimed, then foreign minister Laila Freivalds called the paper's move "a provocation".

"I will defend freedom of the press no matter what the circumstances, but I strongly condemn the provocation by SD-Kuriren. It displays a complete lack of respect," the BBC quoted her as saying.

It appears that the paper managed to get its site back up. But the difference between the reaction of the Swedish foreign ministry to the feelings of Muslims and the feelings of Jews is plain for all to see. To read the BBC article, click here.

To read more on the Swedish government's response, "Bildt refuses to condemn Aftonbladet by Herb Keinon, click here.

August 24, 2009

Into the twilight zone: Swedish editor says "I'm not a Nazi" as he publishes second round of allegations that IDF harvests Palestinian organs

Hats off to Benny Dagan, Israel's ambassador to Sweden. In response to a question from a Swedish journalist yesterday as to why Israel will not investigate claims made in the Aftonbladet newspaper that the Israeli military kills Palestinian children to harvest their bodily organs, he nailed the beast at the heart of this story in style:

"Why don't we investigate why the Mossad and the Jews were behind the bombing of the twin towers?" he was quoted as saying by the Jerusalem Post. "Why won't we investigate why Jews are spreading AIDS in the Arab countries? Why won't we investigate why Jews killed Christian children and took their blood and organs to bake matzot on Pessah?"

Meanwhile, Jan Helin, the editor of Aftonbladet, was quoted by Ynet (the English language version of the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot) as saying today: "I'm not a Nazi. I'm not anti-Semitic." Under the circumstances, the second point presents us with something of a head scratcher. As far as the first is concerned, I for one believe him. He is probably where Sweden has always been on the question: neutral.

But leaving that aside, the saga just gets more and more bizarre.

On Sunday, the paper ran a second article repeating the allegations despite an admission last week by the author that he had "no idea", "no clue" whether any of this was true. In an editorial in Aftonbladet about the affair, Helin said: "I'm a responsible editor who gave the green light to an article because it raises a few questions."

Sorry, there isn't an editor on the planet who just runs stories because they raise "a few questions". On that basis, he would have run the Protocols of Zion. But let's not tempt fate.

The bigger picture here is of a political culture in Sweden (and by extension western Europe as a whole) which has been so utterly degraded by anti-Zionist bigotry that normal standards of decent and reasoned behaviour are simply tossed out of the window whenever the subject of Israel is raised.

As I said at the start of this latest business in Sweden, this has now become routine. It's just another day in modern Europe, and just another step down on the descent into barbarism.

Joshua Says, a reader, added this information:

And look at this outrageous spin from the New York Times:

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel urged the Swedish government on Sunday to condemn an article in a Swedish newspaper last week accusing the Israeli Army of harvesting organs from Palestinians wounded or killed by soldiers."

That is not what Donald Boström claimed in the original article. In that he suggested that the Israeli army deliberately murdered Palestinians in order to steal their organs. Had I not know this and simply relied on the New York Times for information, I would have assumed that the Palestinians referred to had been killed in the normal course of military operations. Here's what Boström wrote in the Aftonbladet piece (a translation of the complete article can be found at, which claimed the facts 'prove Swedish report correct'. For convenience, we've put a translation of the original article below in Editor's Notes.):

"While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open."

Reading through this again, I realise how closely this does resemble the old blood libel stories, of how non-Jewish children were kidnapped and then murdered by Jews. It's the kidnapping part that I had missed.

Incidentally, the blood libels in Europe continued right up to 1946 when 46 Jews who had survived the Holocaust were murdered in Kielce in Poland by a rampaging mob. The pogrom had been sparked by a story that Jews had kidnapped a young non-Jewish boy.

For more on fairly recent blood libels in Europe, scroll down this piece until you hit the word "modern."



Bostrom's article is an excellent example of how crude and sloppy facts, assertions, suppositions and plain lies are pasted together to produce a shocking story. Note how stories about black-market organ selling are used to lend credibility and how cleverly the text leaves it to you to connect the dots: Illegal organs for transplant are marketed around the world. A Jew in America is arrested for traffiking. Israel is a major culprit, condemned by reputable transplant surgeons and countries such as France. Palestinians are killed by IDF soldiers, taken away and returned, with stitching indicating their chest was opened. AH HA. Note also the pseudo "confirmation" by unnamed UN staff and assertions that France "had suspended cooperation."

It now turns out the American Jew was not arrested for trafficking; the French Embassy has denied the story about them; and Dr. DelMonici has strongly disagreed with the Aftonbladet's claims, noting it was unlikely that people killed in armed combat would have viable organs for transplant. Rather than condemning Israel, Dr. Delmonico praised Israel for creating "a very important model for the rest of the world" through its unique legislation on how to handle transplants. See Steven I. Weiss, August 28, 2009 Week in Review edition of TJC here and on YouTube.

Tracking the details that are ignored is another way of revealing the infantile absurdity of the charge. For example: Given that an organ for transplant needs to be taken before or immediately the donor is declared dead, did the IDF come with coolers filled with liquid nitrogen strapped to their backs? The boy was said to have been shot in the chest and in the stomach and knees. Hardly the stuff that organ transplants are made of. But why spoil a good libel?


This next is a translation of Bostrom's Original Story. entitled "Organs looted from our sons"
( Reading it is an exercise in how to recognize a crude and malign attempt to smear a people.

Palestinians accuse the Israeli army of selling the organs of its victims. Here Donald Boström speaks out about the scandal of international transplants — and how he, himself, was a witness to the assault on a 19-year old boy.

I am what you can call a "matchmaker", said Levy Izhak Rosenbaum from Brooklyn, USA, in a secret recording by an FBI-agent whom he believed to be a client. Ten days later, at the end of July this year, Rosenbaum was arrested in connection with a massive corruption ring uncovered in New Jersey: rabbis, congressmen and entrusted officials had for years been busy with money laundering and illegal organ trade, which now winded-up as in a Sopranos network. Rosenbaum's matchmaking had nothing to do with romance and everything to do with buying and selling, on the black market, kidneys from Israel. According to his own sayings, he buys organs from poor people in Israel for 10 000 dollars and sells them back to desperate patients in the US for 160,000 dollars. The legal waiting period for kidneys is of nine years on average.

The accusations have shaken the American transplant industry. Should this be true, organ trafficking would be documented in the USA for the first time, say experts to the newspapers New Jersey Real-Time News.

On the question of how many organs were sold, Rosenbaum says: Quite a lot. And I have never failed, he boasts further. His business was carried out over a very long period of time.

Francis Delmonici, a professor in transplant surgery at Harvard, and member of the Board at the National Kidney Foundation's Board of Directors, says for the same newspaper, that the same type of organ trafficking which takes place in Israel, also takes place in other parts of the world. Of the 63,000 kidney transplants in the world, approximately 10% are illegal, says Delmonici.

Hot countries for that type of illegal trade are Pakistan, the Philippines and China, where it is believed that organs are taken from executed prisoners. But strong suspicion also exists in Palestine, where people believe that their young men, captured as prisoners, have, like in China and Pakistan, been taken as organ donors and that they were later executed. A very serious suspicion that raises so many questions, that the ICJ, International Court of Justice, should absolutely open an investigation over the possibility of crimes of war enacted by Israel.

Israel has time and again been at the forefront of critique when it comes to its unethical way of handling organs and transplants. Countries like France have suspended their cooperation on organs with Israel since the beginning of the 90s, and the Jerusalem Post wrote: "Other countries in Europe are expected to follow France's example shortly".

Half of the new kidneys that Israelis have received since the beginning of the years 2000 have been illegally bought from Turkey, Eastern Europe or South America. The Israeli health-care authorities have a complete knowledge of the activity, but do nothing to stop it. In 2003, at a conference, it was revealed that Israel is the only western country where doctors do not condemn the illegal trade of organs or take any legal measure against doctors who have conducted the related illegal operations. To the contrary, the Chief Doctors of the largest hospitals are involved in the majority of illegal transplant cases, according to Dagens Nyheter (December 5, 2003).

In an attempt to fill the need for organs in the country, Israel's then health minister, Ehud Olmert, ordered a large campaign in the summer of 1992, to get the Israeli population to come forward as organ donors. One half million pamphlets was distributed to local newspapers where citizens were encouraged to write to donate their organs after their death. Ehud Olmert was the first to write his name down.

Only a couple of weeks later, the Jerusalem Post wrote that the campaign had been very successful. Not less than 35,000 persons had enrolled, when usually it's about 500 a month. In the same article, the journalist Judy Siegel, wrote that the gap between offer and demand was still extensive. 500 persons were queuing for a kidney transplant, but only 124 could receive surgery. Out of 45 persons in need of a new liver, only three had a chance to get an operation in Israel.

At the same time when that campaign was going on, young Palestinians disappeared and were returned at night to their villages, five days later, dead and ripped up.

The story of the ripped up bodies terrified the populations in Gaza and the West Bank. There was a story of a dramatic increase of young men's disappearance, with the subsequent nightly funerals of autopsied young men.

I was in the area and worked on a book when I was contacted a series of times by UN staff members who were worried over the situation. Those who contacted me said that the theft of organs indeed took place, but that there was nothing they could do. On assignment for a TV company, I traveled around and spoke with a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza, who declared that their sons had been robbed of their organs before they were killed. One of the examples I came across on that gruesome journey was the young stone thrower Bilal Achmed Ghanan.

It was close to midnight when the sound of the motors of cars coming from the Israeli military column was heard in the outskirts of the small village called Imatin on the northern part of the West Bank. The two thousand villagers were awake and stood as one silent shadows in the dark. Some were posted on the roofs, others behind their curtains, houses or trees that could give them protection in the darkness under the curfew but that could give them some good insight over what would become the cemetery for the village's first martyr. The military had cut off all electrical power around the village and the area was restricted to the military — not a single cat could move outside without risking its life. The darkness' numbing silence was only broken by quiet sobbing, and I don't remember if we were shivering because of the cold or because of the suspense. Five days earlier, on May 13th, 1992, an Israeli special force unit had waited in an ambush at the village's carpentry. The person the special forces were out after was the young 19-years old Bilal Achmed Ghanan, whom they had order to neutralize, as he was one those active young Palestinians who rendered the Israeli occupation forces' lives miserable by throwing stones.

Bilal Ghanan was one of the leading stone throwers and had been on the wanted list for a couple of years. This meant that he and other wanted stone throwing boys lived under the bare sky up in the Nablus Mountains. To be captured implied death and all the stories about previous torture scenes did not improve things. So they remained in the mountains. But for one reason or another, Bilal came down the mountains one day and he wandered unprotected into the village, passed the carpenter's house on that unlucky day in mid-May. Why he did come down on that particular day, not even Talal his older brother could say, perhaps there was a lack of food and they were short of supplies.

Everything happened according to plans for the Israeli Special Forces unit. They stubbed out their cigarettes, took away the cans of Coca Cola and took aim calmly and quietly through the broken window. When Bilal was near enough, there was only to squeeze the trigger. He got shot the first time in the chest. According to the villagers who witnessed the incident, he was also shot after that, once in each leg. After which, two soldiers ran out from the carpentry and shot him twice in the stomach. Finally, they took Bilal by the feet and dragged him down the 20 steps of stone of the carpentry. The villagers tell also that afterwards, people from the UN and the Red Crescent who happened to be in the area and had heard the shots had come to take care of the wounded.

The discussion over who would take care of the victim ended when the Israeli forces took charge of the badly hurt Bilal, loaded him into a jeep and drove away to the village's outskirts. There waited a military helicopter that took Bilal away to an unknown destination.

Five days later, he was back in the darkness, dead and wrapped up in green hospital cloths. When the military column, that had come to get Bilal from the autopsy center Abu Kabir outside Tel Aviv, stops by the place where Bilal would be placed to rest, someone recognizes the Israeli military leader by the name of Captain Yahya. "The worst of them all" whispered in my ear a person in the dark. After Captain Yahya's men had unloaded the body and exchanged the green cloth for a light colored cotton cloth, a few male relatives were picked up to complete the job — to dig earth and mix cement.

Together with the sharp sound of the spades, some laughs were heard on the part of the soldiers who waited to go home and exchanged jokes with each other. When Bilal was lowered down to the ground his chest was exposed and it became suddenly clear to those who were present of what type of abuse he had been submitted to. Bilal was by no means the first person who was buried with a stitched up body from the stomach to the neck but the speculations about the purpose jumpstarted.

The victimized Palestinian families on the West Bank and Gaza were convinced of what had happened to their sons. Our sons are used as unwilling organ donors, said the relatives of Khaled from Nablus to me, the same went with Raed from Jenin and the cousins to Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who all disappeared over a number of days and had returned at night, dead and autopsied.

Why would they keep their bodies up to five days before we can bury them? What happened to the bodies under that time? And why were they autopsied when the cause of death is evident, and in all cases, against our will? And why are the areas closed by the military under the funeral? And why is the electrical power cut off? Nafes'uncle questions were many and upset.

The relatives of the killed Palestinian men did not have any doubts any longer.

The spokesman for the Israeli army said to the contrary that the allegations of organ theft were fabrications by the Palestinians. All the Palestinians who were killed were routinely autopsied, he alleged.

Bilal Achmed Ghanem was one of the 133 Palestinians who got killed in various ways that year. According to Palestinian statistics, the reasons of death were as follows: shot in the street, explosion, battery, teargas, intentionally run over by a car, hanged in prison, shot at school, killed in the house, etc. Of those 133 assassinated persons of all ages from four months to 88 years old, 69 were autopsied, which is to say half of the dead. The routine autopsy carried on dead Palestinians, as the army spokesman said, do not match the reality in the occupied areas. The questions remain.

We know that there is a great need for organs in Israel, and that there is a wide spread illegal organ trade under way, that it has been going on for a long time, that it takes place with the blessing of the authorities, and that high level doctors in the largest hospitals and officials at different levels also take part in it. And we know that Palestinian young men disappeared, that they were returned five days later under mysterious circumstances at night, ripped up and stitched back.

The time has come to bring to light this macabre activity, to reveal what is going on and what has happened in the territories occupied by Israel since the beginning of the Intifada.

Donald Boström is a journalist, photographer and writer of the documentary book Inshallah (Published by Ordfront 2003).

Yourish ( asks sarcastically:

"Now, why on earth would we accuse a Swedish newspaper of using anti-Semitic blood libel tropes in its story about the IDF kidnapping Palestinians and stealing their organs?"

Barry Rubin wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay ( modest-solution-to-antisemitism-crazed.html) that has a solution to all of Israel's problems: Jews should act like Muslims, and riot and protest violently every offense, real or imagined. The sad thing is: He's probably right about the results. Just look at the difference between Sweden's response to this issue. If Sweden were as scared of Jews as they are of Muslims...


After The Damage Is Done, Facts Come Out

"Palestinian Family: We didn't say organs taken"
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Jerusalem Post &pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
August 25, 2009

The family and relatives of Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, the Palestinian at the center of the organ-theft story in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, said on Monday that they didn't know if the accusations were true or not. Aftonbladet editor Jan Helin.

The family lives in the tiny village of Imatin in the northern West Bank. Ghanem, 19, was killed by IDF soldiers during the first intifada on May 13, 1992. He was a Fatah activist who was wanted by the IDF for his involvement in violence.

His mother, Sadeeka, said he was shot by an IDF sniper as he walked out of his home. "The bullets hit him directly in the heart," she said.

Jalal said his brother was evacuated by the IDF in a helicopter and delivered to the family only a few days later. The mother denied that she had told any foreign journalist that her son's organs had been stolen. However, she said that now [emphasis added] she does not rule out the possibility that Israel was harvesting organs of Palestinians.

Jalal and two cousins who claimed that they saw the body said the young man's teeth were missing. They also said they saw stitches that ran from the chest down to the bottom of the stomach. "Obviously, they performed some kind of an autopsy on the body," the brother said. "When the army handed us the body, we were ordered to bury him quickly and in the middle of the night."

"An unnecessary diplomatic crisis"
August 23, 2009

Bostrom's article drew on one Palestinian family's claim in the 1990s that they suspected the Israeli military of stealing the organs of their son whose body was returned five days later after he was killed by Israeli forces. Their suspicion was based on a cut in his midsection. Another 20 Palestinian families then stepped up with the same charge.

When asked, the Israeli military spokesman explained that in the 1990s, autopsies were routine for Palestinians killed in clashes to ascertain that Israeli troops had acted in accordance with their orders and rules of engagement.

Bostrom dragged in as inspiration for his article the New Jersey scandal which alleged the private sale of a kidney from a donor in Israel. He then hinted by innuendo that former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was health minister at the time, was responsible for the theft of Palestinian organs for sale.

His article was therefore not based on any real investigation except for quoting Palestinians clearly eager to provide impetus for any vicious piece of propaganda against Israel or Jews. Nonetheless, Aftonbladet decided to run the piece.

DEBKAfile's military sources add: Palestinian authorities come up with all sorts of reasons for objecting to these autopsies because they deny their propagandists fodder for cases against the IDF. But this time, they found a willing instrument in the Swedish press for heaping calumny on the Israeli military.

Videos are available

Aish has composed a video together with a petition; see it at the Aish website.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar of the BESA Center ( confronts Donald Bostrom of Aftonbladet, who alleged Israeli soldiers were murdering Palestinians for their body parts. Kedar said, "Palestinians are compulsive liars, and Western journalists are willingly manipulated by them." See it here.


Robin Shepherd, Director, International Affairs at the Henry Jackson Society in London, has held senior fellowships at some of the world's most prestigious public policy institutes since leaving international journalism in 2003 when his last position was Moscow Bureau Chief for The Times of London. He blogs at, a think-tank blog.


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