By Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem
August 24 2009
‘The statements in the Swedish press were outrageous’ – Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel placed curbs on Swedish journalists yesterday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged Stockholm to condemn a newspaper article that Israeli officials say recalled historic hatred of Jews in Europe.
Israel’s foreign minister compared it to the Dreyfus Affair – the trial of a Jewish officer in the French army a century ago, which drew attention to anti-Semitism across the continent and inspired Zionists to promote Jewish emigration to Palestine.
Sweden has said press freedom means it cannot intervene in a dispute over the tabloid Aftonbladet’s reprinting last Monday of long-standing Palestinian allegations that the Israeli army may have taken organs for transplants from men who died in custody.
“The statements in the Swedish press were outrageous,” Mr Netanyahu was quoted as telling his cabinet, in his first comment on the issue. “We are not expecting an apology from the Swedish government… we are expecting condemnation.”
The official quoting him said the premier, who will be in Europe this week visiting London and Berlin, echoed colleagues in comparing the article to medieval “blood libels”, which alleged Jews used the blood of Christian babies in religious rites.
A spokesman for Israel’s Interior Ministry said it was “freezing” the issue of entry visas to Swedish journalists, although those already working in the country would not be affected for now.
The dispute has soured relations with the country that holds the rotating presidency of the European Union just as Israel is defending its treatment of the Palestinians against criticism in Europe of January’s war in Gaza and settlement in the West Bank.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said last week his country opposed anti-Semitism but would not muzzle the media. A ministry spokeswoman declined comment on a report that Sweden’s ambassador to Israel was reprimanded for issuing a statement condemning the Aftonbladet article as “appalling”. The statement was no longer on the embassy’s website yesterday.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of a right-wing coalition party whose outspoken criticisms of Arabs have prompted accusations of racism, praised the ambassador and compared her to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who acted on his own initiative to save Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust.
Dismissing Sweden’s argument about press freedom as a “fig leaf” for inaction, Mr Lieberman told Army Radio: “What angers us is that the Swedish government didn’t condemn it but hastened to reprimand the ambassador who did find it right to condemn this blood libel, which recalls the Dreyfus Affair.”
He also compared the article to “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, an anti-Semitic tract purporting to show a global Jewish conspiracy which was widely cited by Hitler among others.
Israeli officials say Europeans often favour Palestinians at their expense and Netanyahu’s government is trying to counter that.
Considering this happened in Israel just a few years back.
Abu Kabir Operating Organ Warehouse
“Abu Kabir Operating Organ Warehouse”
State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein ordered police to launch an investigation against Prof. Yehuda Hiss, the nation’s senior pathologist
and director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute.
Hiss is accused of a long list of charges from inappropriate behavior as a medical professional to criminal acts such as the illegal sale of and dealings in organs and body parts, removing organs from deceased persons without consent, and misrepresenting organs in returned bodies.
Allegations made against Hiss in some cases include his taking organs without consent, placing the cardboard center of toilet paper rolls and metallic rods in their place to fill the voids in the body and hide the theft of the organs.
A court-ordered search of the institute revealed large supplies of stored organs taken illegally from bodies. Over the past years, heads of the institute appear to have given thousands of organs for research without permission, while maintaining a “storehouse” of organs at Abu Kabir.
Organs belonging to soldiers killed in various circumstances were found in the institute during a surprise search this week. After consulting with Chief Chaplain Brig. Gen. Rabbi Yisrael Weiss, it was decided that in concert with the bereaved families, graves would be opened and the organs buried along with the remains of each soldier involved.
Some belonged to soldier’s, but where did the rest come from? There were thousands of organs. They didn’t just magically appear in the Organ Warehouse. I wonder?
Also from December of 2001
In its request to the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry, the Romanians did not offer evidence in support of suspicions of a link between adoption and organ trafficking. The inquiry is part of a broader investigation involving Romanian children sent to Italy and the United States.
As Ha’aretz has reported in the past, some Israeli physicians were involved in illegal kidney transplants and the sale of human eggs in Turkey, Romania, and other countries in East Europe.
In parallel with the organ investigation, officials from Romania’s central adoption agency and from Israel’s Labor and Social Affairs Ministry and police, are also examining possible criminal activity of two groups dealing with the adoption of Romanian children by Israeli parents.
Among other suspicions, officials are checking whether one Romanian group, headed by an Israeli, has forged adoption papers, and whether children have been offered to Israeli parents without proper, legal process.
Responding to complaints and rumors, Romanian authorities have taken the highly unusual step in the past year of withholding authorization for the adoption of 16 Romanian babies destined for Israeli parents. This delay has been enforced although the Israeli couples have paid $20,000 each to adopt the infants, and have already become acquainted with the babies in the foster homes and institutions where they are being held. Romanian authorities insist they will not give the go ahead for the adoptions until inquiries about possible wrong-doing are completed.
To help finalize the adoptions, the Labor and Social Affairs Ministry turned to President Moshe Katsav and asked him to raise the issue with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase when he visited Israel last July. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres also raised it with Romanian officials during his recent visit there.
Parents affiliated with the “Future of the Children” group, based in Rehovot, have also appealed to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to help finalize the adoptions of the Romanian children
Organ transplantation is an effective therapy for end-stage organ failure and is widely practised around the world. According to WHO, kidney transplants are carried out in 91 countries. Around 66 000 kidney transplants, 21 000 liver transplants and 6000 heart transplants were performed globally in 2005.
The organ-exporting countries
Other countries where kidneys are reportedly sold include Bolivia, Brazil, Iraq, Israel, the Republic of Moldova, Peru and Turkey.19 In Colombia, where 69 of 873 organ transplants were performed on foreigners, there is an allegation that organs of deceased donors were used in the organ transplants that were commercially arranged for foreigners.20 The case of the Islamic Republic of Iran merits a special mention: paid kidney donation is practiced legally but there is a strict regulation of the allocation of organs to non-local citizens, thereby restricting the international organ trade.21 In contrast, the Philippine government is moving towards institutionalization of paid kidney donation and acceptance of foreign patients.4
The organ-importing countries
The term “organ-importing countries” is used here to refer to the countries of origin of the patients going overseas to purchase organs for transplantation. A report by Organs Watch, an organization based at the University of California, USA, identified Australia, Canada, Israel, Japan, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the USA as major organ-importing countries.19
OF course while everyone is rambling on about the Swedish paper the bombing on Gaza continues and so does the blockade.
Israeli airstrike on Gaza smuggling tunnel kills 3 in deadliest attack on border in months
DIAA HADID,MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Fighting between Israel and Gaza militants has largely subsided since a fierce Israeli offensive in January, but Israel and Egypt have maintained a tight economic blockade of the coastal area to maintain pressure on the militant Hamas government.
In Gaza, the men killed and wounded were all smugglers caught in a tunnel during the pre-dawn Israeli strike, said Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain.
The prime minister of the Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, said such violence threatened to unravel an informal cease-fire that has largely held for seven months.
Hundreds of Gazans work in tunnels used to bring in goods not available in the seaside territory because of the blockade. Israel says Hamas uses the tunnels to smuggle in weapons and explosives.
Later Tuesday, the Israeli military said soldiers shot and lightly wounded a Palestinian who crossed into Israel from Gaza near the sensitive Nahal Oz fuel depot. He was taken to an Israeli hospital for treatment. The depot has been attacked by Gaza militants in the past.
As violence in Gaza was heating up, the leader of the Western-backed Palestinian government in the West Bank unveiled a development plan that calls for construction of an airport, international rail lines and an oil refinery over the next two years. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the projects would help pave the way for independence.
The program reflected Palestinian frustration after years of on-again, off-again peace talks aimed at ending the decades-long conflict with Israel. With peacemaking efforts currently on hold, the Palestinians must move forward on their own, Fayyad said.
“We believe that full commitment to the state-building endeavour will advance our highest national priority of ending the (Israeli) occupation, thereby enabling us to live in freedom and dignity in a country of our own,” he said.
It remained unclear how Fayyad, an internationally respected economist, expects to carry out the projects. Israel occupies the West Bank and would need to grant approval for major development projects. It was also unclear how Fayyad’s cash-strapped government would finance construction.
Fayyad said further information would be given to the proper ministries as plans develop.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has grudgingly endorsed the concept a Palestinian state with limited powers, while supporting improving relations by strengthening the Palestinian economy.
Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, gave Fayyad’s plan a cool reception.
“Neither artificial dates nor arbitrary deadlines are going to work,” he said. “What is going to make a Palestinian state viable is the end of conflict, the end of all the Palestinian claims, meeting us halfway with political compromises, and, of course, sitting with us without preconditions.”
The Palestinians have said they will not open negotiations until Israel halts all construction in Jewish settlements built on land claimed by the Palestinians. President Barack Obama has also called for a settlement freeze. The subject was expected to be the main topic in talks in London Tuesday between Netanyahu and Obama’s Mideast envoy, George Mitchell.
The internal split between the rival Palestinian governments in Gaza and the West Bank has further complicated peace efforts, since the Palestinians hope to build their state in both territories.