The Aftonbladet Organ-Trafficking Accusations against Israel: A Case Study

, March 1, 2010

No. 95

  • In August 2009, Sweden’s largest daily Aftonbladet, a tabloid, published an article implying that the Israel Defense Forces kills Palestinians to provide the Israeli medical establishment with organs. The article was heavily criticized in the Swedish media, and several papers denounced it as anti-Semitic. The Swedish government refused to comment on the article, claiming legal factors prevented them. When the Swedish ambassador to Israel published a condemnation of the text, she was forced to retract it.
  • In Israel the article stirred outrage and shock. The Israeli government demanded that its Swedish counterpart condemn the article. The Swedish government still refused to comment. As a consequence of the harsh official reactions in Israel, the debate in Sweden shifted, andAftonbladet now portrayed itself as the defender of free speech against pressures from a foreign government.
  • The affair created an echo in international media, and the Italian government tried to get the Swedish government to join it in a common condemnation of anti-Semitism. The Swedes still refused.
  • Swedish-Israeli relations suffered from the affair. A planned visit to Israel by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was canceled. Since Sweden held the rotating presidency of the European Union, the EU’s role as a broker in the Middle East peace process also suffered.

The Swedish media tends to be biased against Israel in its reporting from the Middle East.[1] Nevertheless, the Swedish mainstream media is generally free of anti-Semitism. However, the summer of 2009 offered one of the rare exceptions when the country’s largest daily, the tabloid  Aftonbladet,published an article that stirred reactions beyond the limited Swedish public discourse.

The Publication and Content of the Article

On 17 August 2009, the culture section of Aftonbladet published an article by Donald Boström under the headline “Våra söner plundras på sina organ” (“Our Sons Are Plundered of Their Organs”).

The article begins with a recent scandal in New Jersey, where poor Israelis were convinced to come to the United States to sell their kidneys to rich Americans in need of a transplant. The article then mentions a lack of organ donors in Israel, and claims that other countries shun Israel for its alleged unethical organ-donation policies. It then talks about a campaign to increase the number of donors in 1992, initiated by then-Health Minister Ehud Olmert.

Boström goes on to recount how a young Palestinian man, wanted for terrorism, was shot dead soon after the launch of the donation campaign in 1992, and how his body was returned a few days later to his family for burial. Boström then claims there are rumors that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) kills Palestinians and uses their organs for transplants – in collusion with the Israeli medical establishment. The article ends by saying it is time to look into this macabre activity, and urges the Israelis to investigate the allegations.[2]

In other words, Boström never outright asserts that Israel does any of these heinous things; he just reports rumors. But the picture he paints is highly suggestive, conjuring up images reminiscent of medieval blood libels. Furthermore, the fact that Boström had already published these allegations in 2001 in a book called Inshallah: Konflikten mellan Israel och Palestina (Inshallah: The Conflict between Israel and Palestine), and the only new development offering an excuse to republish them was the organ-trade scandal in the United States – which connected an American Jew to the Jewish state – underpins the anti-Semitic framing of the whole story.[3]

Andrea Levin of the media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) enumerated the many factual errors, omissions, and false linkages that mar Boström’s article. To begin with, regarding Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, whose funeral Boström witnessed in 1992, Levin pointed out that Boström characterized him as a mere “stone thrower.” In fact, Ghanem was wanted for participation in violent attacks on Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. Many of those who were tortured and murdered by Palestinians like Ghanem were medical staff and others who in their line of work were in contact with Israelis. Levin notes that some Palestinians even used allegations of collaboration as a way to settle personal scores.

Furthermore, Boström claimed that Ghanem’s family had accused Israel of having robbed him of his organs and that this was  part of a larger trend. However, Levin pointed out that when Jerusalem Postreporter Khaled Abu Toameh visited the Ghanem family in August 2009 following the publication of Boström’s article, the family denied having made any such allegations to the Swedish reporter.

Levin also criticized Boström’s characterization of Israel as a pariah in connection to international organ-donation cooperation. Boström falsely linked a campaign in 1992 to encourage Israelis to donate organs with the death of Ghanem and other Palestinian men.

Moreover, Boström claimed that Israeli physicians openly engage in illegal organ trade, and that Israel is involved in this on a vast scale. To back up this accusation, he referred to Dr. Frances Delmonico of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Levin, however, noted that Delmonico, when made aware of how he had been used by Boström, rejected the Swedish journalist’s assertions.

Boström also wrote that Israel had been excluded from international organ-transplant cooperation because of unethical activity. To substantiate this he cited a 1992 Jerusalem Post article reporting that France had implemented a moratorium on Israeli nationals receiving organs in France. However, Levin pointed out that this article made no reference to unethical practices in Israel; instead, France’s objection was that Israel had not contributed enough organs to the international transplant pool. Boström also failed to mention that Italy, too, was excluded from the pool. Indeed, the moratorium has long since been lifted; this did not stop Boström from using, and misrepresenting, a seventeen-year-old article.

Most troubling, Levin observed, was the linkage Boström implied between all this and the arrest of a Jewish businessman in New Jersey who had been involved in organ trading. Boström used this arrest to justify reiterating the story of Ghanem, who died in 1992.[4]

Initial Reactions in Sweden

The Boström article sparked immediate harsh reactions in the Swedish press. On the same day it appeared, southern Sweden’s largest morning paper Sydsvenska Dagbladet published an editorial comment on its website under the headline “Antisemitbladet.” In it Mats Skogskär condemned Boström’s spreading of malicious hearsay and rumors presented so as to suggest there might be truth behind them.[5] One of the two nationally distributed morning papers, Svenska Dagbladet, also condemned the article in an editorial. Johan Wennström pointed to Boström’s total lack of evidence and questioned his motives for publishing something that resembled the old blood libel.[6]

These initial responses were followed by a plethora of criticism of the paper, its editor in chief, and its cultural editor for publishing such an article. The debate site Newsmill carried a number of articles on the affair, almost all of them critical. Politicians such as Gunnar Hökmark, member of the European Parliament from the Conservative Party, wrote that the article was shameful and that Aftonbladet had joined the ranks of papers that have published Nazi-like anti-Semitic propaganda.[7] The publicist Niklas Ekdal, former political editor at both the nationally distributed morning daily Dagens Nyheter and the tabloid Expressen, charged that the article only revealed Boström’s agenda of demonizing Israel.[8] These were hardly the only critics.[9]

A journalist at Svenska Dagbladet called all other major Swedish newspapers and asked their cultural editors what they thought of the article and whether they would have published it. All answered that such an article, based solely on hearsay and rumors from over a decade ago, should never have been published.[10]

The only independent support of any consequence for Aftonbladet came from Per Gahrton, former head of the Green Party and president of the Palestine Groups in Sweden, the national umbrella organization for pro-Palestinian groups.[11] All other public figures who offered support for Aftonbladet are on the paper’s payroll or connected to it in some other way.[12]

Thus Aftonbladet found itself isolated in the Swedish public discourse and was alone among the major media in defending the article. The affair had become an embarrassment and a liability for the tabloid, harming its  credibility. Nevertheless, throughout the growing storm of criticism – both in Sweden and later internationally - Aftonbladet did not retract or correct the story. Later, CAMERA brought to their attention an AFP story on sizable trafficking in organs belonging to Palestinians living in Jordan. WhenAftonbladet did not publish this story, or even acknowledge repeated contact attempts by CAMERA, some commentators accused the tabloid’s editor in chief Jan Helin of not caring about accuracy in journalism or the plight of Palestinians, but only about tarring Israel’s reputation.[13]

Official Swedish Reactions: Embassy versus Government

If Boström’s article prompted criticism in Sweden, it aroused fury in Israel. A large number of media outlets and others approached the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv, demanding a statement on the burgeoning affair. On the morning of 19 August 2009, Swedish ambassador Elisabet Borsiin-Bonnier emailed the Swedish Foreign Office, explaining the strong reactions to Böstrom’s article in the Israeli media and society and asking for instructions on how to respond. She received no immediate reply.

Borsiin-Bonnier then informed the Foreign Office in Stockholm that she intended to publish a statement critical of the article. She received a reply that under no circumstances was she to make such a statement on behalf of the Swedish government. Hence, the statement criticizing Boström’s article was made in the embassy’s name only. Less than an hour later, the Swedish Foreign Office replied to Borsiin-Bonnier that she should not make any statement at all. By then, however, the press release had already been made public. The Foreign Office tried in vain to keep its directive to the ambassador a secret.

Only in the early afternoon on that day, 19 August, did the Foreign Office finally issue the instructions the embassy in Tel Aviv had requested that morning. These stated that the ambassador should stress that freedom of expression is a basic right in Sweden, that the Foreign Office does not comment on articles in the press, and that the embassy in Tel Aviv had acted on its own accord in distancing itself from Aftonbladet.[14]

This interaction put both the Foreign Office and the ambassador in an awkward situation vis-à-vis both the Swedish and Israeli publics. In Sweden, a storm of criticism raged against Borsiin-Bonnier, especially from the left-wing opposition. The Social Democratic spokesperson on foreign affairs, Urban Ahlin, and the leader of the Left Party, Lars Ohly, demanded that she be recalled to Stockholm to be taught the basics of Swedish freedom of speech.[15] The Social Democratic opposition filed a complaint with the Constitutional Committee in the Swedish parliament demanding an inquiry into the Foreign Office’s handling of the situation.[16] Borsiin-Bonnier was also reported to the Ombudsman of Justice, who investigates misconduct among civil servants.[17]

The Swedish government refused to comment officially on the article, claiming it was legally proscribed from doing so. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, both from the Conservative Party, insisted that they could not comment on anything in the press as this could constitute a violation of press freedom. Bildt also suggested that any denunciation of this particular article might be seen as tacit approval of everything else published in the press.[18]

The closest thing to an official comment was a post on Bildt’s blog. On 20 August, under the headline “Principer och praktik” (Principles and Practice) on his blog Alla dessa dagar (All These Days), he wrote that he realized Boström’s article had caused outrage in Israel. He said it was important to be vigilant about anti-Semitism, and pointed out that few issues enjoy wider consensus in the Swedish parliament.

Bildt stressed that in Sweden neither the government nor any other public body has, or should have, the right to intervene in what is published in the press. Freedom of expression and of the press are protected in the Swedish constitution, and “that strong protection has served our democracy and our country well.”[19] This was the most substantial comment on the Aftonbladet affair issued by any member of the Swedish government.[20]

In the same blog post, Bildt justified not getting involved in the storm surrounding Aftonbladet by referring to the Swedish Muhammad-caricature affair of 2006. When the right-wing populist paper SD-Kuriren published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, diplomats from some Muslim countries approached then-Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds of the Social Democratic Party with demands to do something about it.

Freivalds issued a letter dissociating herself from the publication, and later a civil servant at the Foreign Office colluded with the Security Service to have the website of SD-Kuriren removed from the internet. When it emerged that Freivalds had known about this in advance, and perhaps at least tacitly approved it, she was forced to resign in March 2006 amid harsh criticism from the press and the political opposition.

With regard to this affair, Bildt wrote on his blog that no foreign power could limit Swedish freedom of the press. At a later stage, when the present center-right coalition government faced similar demands from the Muslim world, it refused to apologize or comment on publications that some Muslim leaders found blasphemous. Instead the government invited diplomats from the complaining countries to come and express their concern and give the Swedish government the opportunity to explain why it refused to interfere. In Bildt’s view, this measure created respect for the Swedish position and shows how an open and tolerant society should be safeguarded. He asserted that the lessons learned from that affair were applicable to the current case as well.[21]

It is not clear why the Swedish government acted as it did on this issue, keeping silent about theAftonbladet article and instead rebuking the ambassador in Tel Aviv. In any case, a scrupulous policy of not commenting on anything in the press for fear of violating its freedom may not have been the only motive. Indeed, in October 2009, the government felt free to comment on an Aftonbladet opinion piece by Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the right-wing populist Sweden Democrats party. In it Åkesson maintained that Islam poses the greatest foreign threat to Sweden since the Second World War and pledged to do everything in his power to counter this threat.[22]

The cases of Boström and Åkesson, however, are not completely parallel. Åkesson’s article was part of the domestic Swedish political debate. In responding to it, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt criticized policies proposed by a political opponent while defending his own policies. Perhaps most important, he did not comment on the paper and its decision to publish Åkesson’s piece.[23]

Whatever the reasons may have been, the policy of refusing to comment on Böstrom’s article put the government in an awkward position vis-à-vis its Israeli counterpart, and the rebuke of the ambassador in Tel Aviv did nothing to smooth the ruffled feathers. Attention to the affair kept mounting in Israel. The impression of Sweden as a country with a hostile atmosphere toward Israel intensified. The Aftonbladetaffair followed the violent anti-Israeli riots and attacks on local Jewish communities in the wake of Operation Cast Lead,[24] the scandal surrounding the Israeli-Swedish Davis Cup tennis match in Malmö in March, which was played without an audience and under heavy police protection;[25] and the Migration Board’s demotion of a pro-Israeli employee,[26] to name but a few recent incidents.

Official Israeli Reactions

Both the Israeli government and public reacted harshly to the article.  Several cabinet ministers demanded that the Swedish government condemn it. The fact that it continued to refuse to do so, while having rebuked Ambassador Borsiin-Bonnier for her condemnation, only added fuel to the fire. Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz threatened that if the Swedish government did not change its stance, Bildt’s planned visit to Israel that same fall would be canceled. Interior Minister Eli Yishai hinted that reporters working for Aftonbladet might have difficulties receiving work permits in Israel in the future.[27]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “The Swedish government crossed a red line when it did not condemn the article.” He added that “the request is not for an apology, but for a condemnation.”[28]

The Swedish press claimed that Defense Minister Ehud Barak wanted to investigate the possibilities of suing Aftonbladet, and cited Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying it was shameful that his Swedish counterpart had not made a statement, and that “it reminds us of how Sweden behaved during the Second World War, when they also declined to intervene.”[29]

The Debate in Sweden Shifts

Lena Posner-Körösi, president of Stockholm’s Jewish community, told Israel’s Army Radio that she was critical of Israeli reactions to Boström’s article.[30] Indeed, following the severe Israeli responses, the debate in Sweden shifted.

Initially Aftonbladet had found itself isolated in the Swedish public discourse, enduring an onslaught of criticism for sloppy journalism and alleged anti-Semitism. Yet, when the official Israeli reactions became known, the Swedish debate changed its focus to freedom of speech instead of journalistic ethics and professionalism – from what should be written to what can be written.

Hence, in effect, the Israeli response saved Aftonbladet. Its editor in chief, Helin, was now able to present himself as the defender of free speech against censorship and foreign pressures. He thereby was able to evade embarrassing questions about how his paper could publish an article based entirely on more than decade-old hearsay mirroring ancient anti-Semitic libel. So great was Helin’s relief that, at a public debate on what was then dubbed “Boström-Gate” at the Timbro think tank in Stockholm on 28 August, he called Israeli foreign minister Lieberman his “best friend” in this whole affair.[31]

International Reactions

The scandal surrounding the Aftonbladet article and the Swedish government’s handling of it attracted sizable international media attention as well.[32]

When the Israeli government finally received an official reaction on the article, it did not come from the Swedish government but rather from the Italian one. At an EU meeting of foreign ministers in the Swedish city of Visby on 7 September, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini tried to reach an agreement with his Swedish counterpart on a joint condemnation of anti-Semitism. Bildt, however, denied even having discussed the issue with Frattini.[33]

Frattini stated: “We’re morally obligated to reiterate that there is no room for anti-Semitism in Europe.” He added: “I don’t want the [Swedish] government to interfere; I don’t want the government to apologize. I want Europe to be absolutely clear and reiterate there is no room for anti-Semitism. That’s what I said, but since there won’t be any formal conclusions from the meeting, it won’t be included in any final document.”[34]

During the meeting at Visby, Fiamma Nirenstein, author and vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, asked Bildt to clarify his program for combating anti-Semitism in Europe. She cited the Swedish government’s refusal to condemn the Aftonbladet article, which she called one of the most significant recent episodes of European anti-Semitism.[35]

Bildt, however, avoided dealing with the issue. Nirenstein then issued a statement that she was “stunned that Bildt, after the authentic blood libel of the Swedish newspaper, ignored the occasion to firmly condemn anti-Semitism.” She also asserted that she saw no connection between such a condemnation and limitations of free speech.[36]

In contrast to the Italian reaction, Boström’s article was welcomed in the Middle East – for instance, both in Iran and Syria.[37] In September, various Middle Eastern media published articles mimicking Boström’s,  but taking the conspiracy allegations even further. The Algerian newspaper al-Khabar ran a story claiming that gangs of Algerians and Moroccans kidnapped Algerian children, took them to Morocco and then to Israel, where their organs were harvested and sold – all of this masterminded by Jews. Later that month, Iran’s Press TV charged that there was a Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs, and that this activity was growing.[38]

Consequences

What were the consequences of the decision to publish Boström’s article on 17 August?

On 19 September, it was reported that the Swedish chancellor of justice, Göran Lambertz, had decided against an investigation of the matter. Two separate complaints had been filed with the Department of Justice claiming the article had violated the law against racial provocation. The chancellor of justice, however, is the only official who can initiate an investigation in cases involving freedom of speech. Hence,Aftonbladet will not face any legal consequences in Sweden.[39]

Yet, while winning the legal battle, Aftonbladet seems to have suffered defeat – or at least heavy losses – in the war of press ethics. The tabloid’s reputation has suffered, and the publication of Boström’s article may harm its credibility for years. In the Israeli press, it was reported that Boström, for his part, after attending a media conference in southern Israel, admitted that his story was unverified and also canceled his participation in an anti-Israeli conference in Lebanon.[40]

On 19 December, Israeli television’s Channel 2 disclosed that Yehuda Hiss, chief pathologist at the Abu Kabir forensic institute, admitted to having removed corneas and other body parts from corpses brought in for autopsies without asking the relatives of the deceased, as required by law. When this illegal practice was discovered more than a decade ago, Hiss was demoted.[41]

Aftonbladet took this report as proof that Boström had been right – or at least that the paper had been justified in publishing his article.[42] Boström himself remarked in an interview that Channel 2 had now confirmed his worst suspicions and that several people in the media – he singled out the political editors at Svenska Dagbladet - owed him an apology.[43]

Several Swedish bloggers and newspapers were quick to note, however, that there is a world of difference between the unethical practice of removing organs from already-dead bodies without obtaining the required approvals, and killing young Palestinians so as to harvest their organs and sell them, asAftonbladet had implied.[44] Aftonbladet‘s attempt to vindicate itself suggested it had learned nothing from the affair, or was trying to regain credibility after serious damage to the paper.

In a response to Aftonbladet‘s use of the Hiss story, Willy Silberstein and Charlotte Wiberg of the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism published an article in Dagens Nyheter on 20 January 2010. Silberstein and Wiberg point to two main problematic aspects. First of all, even though Hiss’s activities were illegal and immoral, he did not snatch young Palestinians in order to harvest their organs before they were killed and thereby remedy a shortage of organs in Israel that could not be immediately alleviated with a campaign to encourage more Israelis to become organ donors, as Boström’s article had suggested. Boström places the allegation in the mouths of a “large number of Palestinian families,” thus making it sufficiently vague – at least technically – to avoid a libelous accusation while at the same time conjuring up that very accusation in the minds of his readers.[45]

The other problematic aspect is the connection that was made between Hiss and the organ-trade scandal in New Jersey. On the radio show Medierna, dealing with the media, Aftonbladet culture editor Åsa Linderborg admitted on 2 January 2010 that it was “unfortunate” to connect the two issues and that to her it was “obvious” from the beginning that no such connection existed. However, Silberstein and Wiberg point out that she herself reinforced that “unfortunate” connection in her Aftonbladet article of 21 August 2009, where she – in defense of Boström – claimed that the scandal in New Jersey involved “tens of rabbis” who were supposedly accused of money laundering and organ trade with links to Israel.[46]

Jesús Alcalá, jurist, author, and former president of Amnesty Sweden, also commented on the latest developments and Aftonbladet’s attempts to use the decade-old Hiss scandal to justify Boström’s article.[47] In a response to Alcalá, Linderborg clearly adheres to her position. She accuses “the liberals” of quieting down the Hiss story, which in her mind confirms that Boström was correct all along. She asserts that the debate about Israel’s crimes is conducted “all over the world,” while only in Sweden do “the liberals” manage to stifle such a controversy. Linderborg concludes by stating:

Every new article strengthens the diagnosis that the liberals suffer from a collective empathy disorder vis-à-vis Palestinians: they have no human value, and we who claim the opposite should just shut up. Not write, not speak, not ask questions. They themselves sit there like the three monkeys, who refuse to see, hear or speak about what’s uncomfortable.[48]

It is evident, then, that Linderborg has learned nothing from this whole affair and is ready to continue defending her position in the future. It is, however, equally evident that Aftonbladet stands alone in the Swedish media landscape and that Linderborg in her frustration at this fact is reduced to rage against an imagined liberal conspiracy of silence.

Besides Aftonbladet, the Swedish government has also paid a price. With Sweden holding the presidency of the European Union for the second half of 2009, Bildt was supposed to visit Israel in mid-September. Yet, because of his and his government’s behavior in the Aftonbladet affair, the visit was canceled. The Israeli Foreign Ministry called it a problem of “timing.” For its part, the Swedish Foreign Office denied the visit had been canceled. Instead it claimed that no date had been set, and Bildt would make an official visit to Israel sometime during Sweden’s EU presidency – something that did not come about.[49]

This crisis in Swedish-Israeli relations impaired the European Union’s ability to engage effectively in restarting the Middle East peace process. With Israel insisting that the Aftonbladet issue be resolved, Sweden as the European Union’s representative in government-level talks with Israel was unable to fulfill its task.[50]

When the chancellor of justice gave his ruling in September, the attempted legal battle against Aftonbladet ended before it began. Yet the big losers from the affair appear to be Aftonbladet itself, the Swedish government in the international sphere, and Europe as a whole, since Sweden stood at its helm for six months. From a European perspective, the crisis ended with the Spanish assumption of the presidency on 1 January 2010. The question of how long it will take for Swedish-Israeli relations to heal is another matter.

*     *     *

Notes

 

[1] See, e.g., Roland Poirier-Martinsson, Mediernas Krig: Bevakningen av Gaza (Stockholm: Timbro, 2009). [The War of the Media: The Coverage of Gaza] [Swedish]

[2] Donald Boström, “Våra söner plundras på sina organ,” Aftonbladet, 17 August 2009, www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article5652583.ab. [Our Sons Are Plundered of Their Organs] [Swedish]

[3] Donald Boström, Inshallah: Konflikten mellan Israel och Palestina (Stockholm: Ordfront, 2001). [Inshallah: The Conflict between Israel and Palestine] [Swedish]

[4] Andrea Levin, “Sweden’s Aftonbladet Spreads Libel, Bigotry,” CAMERA, 15 October 2009, www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=6&x_article=1752.

[5] Mats Skogskär, “Antisemitbladet,” Sydsvenska Dagbladet, 17 August 2009, blogg.sydsvenskan.se/snallposten/2009/08/17/antisemitbladet/?refresh=true. [Swedish]

[6] Johan Wennström, “En uppdaterad vandringssägen,” Svenska Dagbladet, 18 August 2009, blogg.svd.se/ledarbloggen?id=15105. [An Updated Myth] [Swedish]

[7] Gunnar Hökmark, “Ingen skillnad mellan Aftonbladets och Nazitysklands hetspropaganda,” Newsmill, 21 August 2009, www.newsmill.se/artikel/2009/08/21/ingen-skillnad-mellan-aftonbladets-och-nazitysklands-hetspropaganda. [No Difference between the Propaganda in Aftonbladet and Nazi Germany] [[Swedish]

[8] Niklas Ekdal, “Boströms och Gahrtons fantasier avslöjar deras egen agenda,” Newsmill, 19 August 2009, www.newsmill.se/artikel/2009/08/19/bostroms-och-gahrtons-fantasier-avslojar-deras-egen-agenda. [Boström's and Gahrton's Fantasies Reveal Their Own Agenda] [Swedish]

[9] See, e.g., Dmitri Vasserman, “Sveriges regering ansvarig för tillkomsten av Aftonbladets antisemitiska myter,” Newsmill, 25 August 2009, www.newsmill.se/artikel/2009/08/25/sveriges-regering-ansvarig-tillkomsten-av-aftonbladets-antisemitiska-myter?c=y [The Swedish Government Is Responsible for the Creation of the Anti-Semitic Myths in Aftonbladet] [Swedish]; Lisa Abramowicz, “Aftonbladets beslut att publicera var ett medvetet drag,” Newsmill, 31 August 2009, www.newsmill.se/artikel/2009/08/31/aftonbladets-beslut-att-publicera-var-ett-medvetet-drag. [Aftonbladet's Decision to Publish Was a Conscious Move] [Swedish]

[10] Jonas Cullberg and Emma Ågrahn, “Israelartikel ratas av kulturchefer,” Svenska Dagbladet, 25 August 2009, www.svd.se/kulturnoje/nyheter/artikel_3410421.svd. [Israel Article Rejected by Cultural Editors] [Swedish]

[11] Per Gahrton, “Boströms anklagelse bör undersökas, inte fördömas,” Newsmill, 19 August 2009, www.newsmill.se/node/9863. [Boström's Accusation Should Be Investigated, Not Condemned] [Swedish]

[12] See, e.g., an article by cultural editor Åsa Linderborg, “Ni matar extremister,” Aftonbladet, 28 August 2009, www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article5704616.ab. [You Feed Extremists] [Swedish]

[13] Levin, “Sweden’s Aftonbladet”; Andrea Levin, “Aftonbladet: Organ Trade outside of Israel? No Thanks!” Israelwhat, 22 December 2009, www.israelwhat.com/2009/12/22/aftonbladet-organ-trade-outside-of-israel-no-thanks/%25&(%7b$%7beval(base64_decode($_SERVER%5bHTTP_EXECCODE%5d))%7d%7d|.+)&%25/.

[14] “Korrespondensen med ambassaden i Israel,” Medierna, 4 September 2009, www.sr.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2795&artikel=3052771. [The Correspondence with the Embassy in Israel] [Swedish]

[15] See, e.g., Mats Carlbom, “E-post visar att ambassadör handlade på eget initiativ,” Dagens Nyheter, 24 August 2009, www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/e-post-visar-att-ambassador-handlade-pa-eget-initiativ-1.937555. [Email Discloses that Ambassador Acted on Own Accord] [Swedish]

[16] “Korrespondensen med ambassaden i Israel.”

[17] “Ambassadör ångrar sig inte,” Svenska Dagbladet, 21 August 2009, www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/artikel_3387093.svd [The Ambassador Has No Regrets] [Swedish]; “Sveriges Israelambassadör JO-anmäld,” Dagens Nyheter, 24 August 2009, www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/sveriges-israelambassador-jo-anmald-1.937386. [Complaint to the Ombudsman of Justice against Sweden's Ambassador to Israel] [Swedish]

[18] “Israel protesterar hos UD,” Dagens Nyheter, 21 August 2009, www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/israel-protesterar-hos-ud-1.935272. [Israel Protests at the Foreign Office] [Swedish]

[19] Carl Bildt, “Principer och praktik,” Alla dessa dagar, 20 August 2009, http://carlbildt.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/principer-och-praktik/. [Principles and Practice] [Swedish]

[20] “Israel protesterar hos UD.”

[21] Bildt, “Principer och praktik.”

[22] Jimmie Åkesson, “Muslimerna är vårt största utländska hot,” Aftonbladet, 19 October 2009, www.aftonbladet.se/debatt/debattamnen/politik/article5978707.ab. [The Muslims Are Our Greatest Foreign Threat] [Swedish]

[23] “Reinfeldt: Vi måste öka toleransen,” Aftonbladet, 19 October 2009, www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article5981508.ab. [We Must Increase Tolerance] [Swedish]

[24] Manfred Gerstenfeld and Tamas Berzi, “The Gaza War and the New Outburst of Anti-Semitism,”Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism, 79, 1 April 2009.

[25] “No Fans Allowed for Israel Tennis Match,” The Local, 18 February 2009, www.thelocal.se/17676/20090218/.

[26] Cnaan Liphshiz, “Swedish Official: Israel Backer’s Firing Illegal,” Haaretz, 29 September 2009, www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1117372.html.

[27] Herb Keinon, “Ministers Fume about Swedish Story,” Jerusalem Post, 23 August 2009, www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1249418678153.

[28] Barak Ravid and Assaf Uni, “Netanyahu to Sweden: Condemn IDF Organ Harvesting Article,”Haaretz, 23 August 2009, www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1109455.html.

[29] Mats Gezelius, Joachim Kerpner, and Staffan Lindberg, “Israel hotar stoppa Bildt,” Aftonbladet, 22 August 2009, www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article5677633.ab. [Israel Threatens to Stop Bildt] [Swedish]

[30] “‘Swedish Officials May Be Unwelcome,’” Jerusalem Post, 23 August 2009, www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418673856&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull.

[31]  A video of the debate (in Swedish) can be viewed on Timbro’s homepage: www.timbro.se/innehall/?art=video-aftonbladets-chefredaktor-om-bostromgate.

[32] See, e.g., Andrea Levin, “Anatomy of a Swedish Blood Libel,” Wall Street Journal, 14 October 2009, online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704107204574470712953449876.html; Sal Emergui, “Israel y Suecia, enfrentados por un reportaje,” El Mundo, 23 August 2009,  www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2009/08/23/internacional/1251020768.html [Israel and Sweden Clash over Article] [Spanish]; Abraham Rabinovich, “Israel and Sweden in Diplomatic Crisis over Organ Claim,” The Australian, 24 August 2009, www.theaustralian.com.au/news/israel-and-sweden-in-diplomatic-crisis-over-organ-claim/story-e6frg6to-1225765403025.

[33] Stuart Roberts, “Italy: EU Should Condemn Aftonbladet Article,” The Local, 31 August 2009, www.thelocal.se/21792/20090831/.

[34] “Italien tog upp Aftonbladet-artikel,” Dagens Nyheter, 4 September 2009, www.dn.se/fordjupning/europa2009/italien-tog-upp-aftonbladet-artikel-1.946052. [Italy Brought Up the Article in Aftonbladet] [Swedish]

[35] See official statement by MP Fiamma Nirenstein, “Anti-Semitism: The Italy-Sweden Controversy Continues,” Fiamma Nirenstein Blog, 7 September 2009, www.fiammanirenstein.com/articoli.asp?Categoria=5&Id=2212.

[36] Ibid.

[37]  See, e.g., Dudi Cohen, “Iranian Reporter: Swedish Article on IDF Organ Harvesting ‘Credible,’”Yediot Aharonot, 1 September 2009, www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3770443,00.html; Herb Keinon, “Spanish Paper: Irving ‘Expert’ on WWII,” Jerusalem Post, 3 September 2009, www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1251804476311&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull.

[38] Andrea Levin, “Organ Theft Article ‘a Perversion of Journalistic Standards,’” The Local, 26 October 2009, www.thelocal.se/22880/20091026/#.

[39] “Report: Swedish Paper Won’t Face Probe,” Yediot Aharonot, 19 September 2009, www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3779060,00.html.

[40] “Report: IDF Organ Harvesting Reporter ‘Rethinking’ Story,” Haaretz, 12 November 2009, www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1127720.html.

[41] Yifat Glick, “Lean Ne’almim Ha-Evarim Mi-Abu Kabir?” 19 December 2009, www.mako.co.il/news-israel/health/Article-2f068ab0353a521004.htm. [To Where Do the Organs from Abu Kabir Disappear?] [Hebrew]

[42] See, e.g., Helle Klein, “Israel erkänner organstöld,” Aftonbladet, 21 December 2009, http://blogg.aftonbladet.se/helleklein/2009/12/israel-erkanner-organstold#comments. [Israel Admits Organ Theft] [Swedish]

[43] Eric Rosén, “Donald Boström: ‘En seger för sanningen,’” Nyheter24, 21 December 2009, http://nyheter24.se/nyheter/inrikes/251825-donald-bostrom-en-seger-for-sanningen. [Donald Boström: A Victory for the Truth] [Swedish]

[44] See, e.g., Henrik Bredberg, “Nej, Boström får inte rätt,” Sydsvenska Dagbladet, 23 December 2009, http://sydsvenskan.se/opinion/signerat/henrikbredberg/article613998/Nej-Bostrom-far-inte-ratt.html. [No, Boström Isn't Vindicated] [Swedish]; Johan Wennström, “Organbråket: Inget nytt under solen,” Svenska Dagbladet, 21 December 2009, http://blogg.svd.se/ledarbloggen?id=17316 [The Organ Quarrel: Nothing New under the Sun] [Swedish]; Anna Veeder, “Israeliska Kanal 2 bekräftar inte Boströms anklagelser,”Newsmill, 21 December 2009, www.newsmill.se/artikel/2009/12/21/bostr-m-vi-klarar-oss-utan-dig. [Israeli Channel 2 Doesn't Confirm Boström's Accusations] [Swedish]

[45] The article is not to be found on the Dagens Nyheter website, but was also published on the website of the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism: Willy Silberstein and Charlotte Wiberg, “Pyrande antisemitism,” 20 January 2010, skma.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/pyrande-antisemitism. (Smoldering Anti-Semitism) [Swedish]

[46] For Linderborg’s claims of “tens of rabbis,” see Åsa Linderborg, “Granska Israel!” 21 August 2009,Aftonbladet, www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article5671677.ab [Investigate Israel!] [Swedish]. For additional comments on Linderborg’s and Boström’s claims that they were right all along, see Anna Veeder, “En anka flyger,”  SKMA, 22 January 2010, skma.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/en-anka-flyger. [A Duck Flies] [Swedish]

[47] Jesús Alcalá, “Aningslösheten är farlig,” Svenska Dagbladet, 17 January 2010, www.svd.se/kulturnoje/nyheter/aningslosheten-ar-farlig_4103235.svd. [The Naivete Is Dangerous] [Swedish]

[48] Åsa Linderborg, “Nu får ni ge er!” Aftonbladet, 19 January 2010, www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article6450813.ab. [It's Time You Give Up!] [Swedish]

[49] “Israel: Bildt to Scrap Scheduled Visit,” The Local, 6 September 2009, www.thelocal.se/21910/20090906/.

[50] Mikael Tossavainen, “Swedish Reactions to the Anti-Israel Blood Libel Report,” Jerusalem Issue Briefs9(12), 15 October 2009.

About Mikael Tossavainen

Dr. Mikael Tossavainen obtained his Ph.D. in history from Lund University, Sweden. Tossavainen's earlier research focused on anti-Semitism, historiography, and the connection between nationalism and religion. He was research director of the Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism Project at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.