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I challenged Haaretz writers on the organ-harvesting story last summer

Israel/Palestine
on 26 Comments

Last summer Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, printed allegations that Israeli soldiers had taken organs from Palestinian youths they had killed, putting the tissue on the transplant market. An Israeli official called the story anti-Semitic "hate porn," and Haaretz denounced it. Today the AP reports that an Israeli official has admitted that state forensic pathologists harvested organs. The news caused Bruce Wolman to send an email [1] to Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid and Haaretz columnist Tom Segev, and to dig out an email [2] he sent the men last summer.

1. Barak and Tom,
Neither one of you would give any credence to these accusations of organ-harvesting by Israel during the Aftonbladet incident back in August.
I suggested to both of you in an email that this was an issue Ha’aretz should investigate, not deny as ridiculous or insane. My email received no response.
It seems Ha’aretz’s journalism on this story reached the same levels as Aftonbladet’s: Insufficient actual investigating and reporting.
When is the Israeli Foreign Minister going to apologize to the Swedish government?
Sincerely,
Bruce Wolman

2.
Date: August 25, 2009 12:10:58 PM EDT
To: [Barak Ravid and Tom Segev]
Barak Ravid and/or Tom Segev,
I’ve noticed that the Aftonbladet story is off the front pages in both Sweden and Israel today. It seems PM Netanyahu is busy for the moment setting the Brits and Americans straight on settlements and Jerusalem.
After surveying last week’s diplomatic fireworks, it was my conclusion that the Israeli press should investigate and disprove the charges in the Boström article, much as the Norwegian press acted earlier this year when the Jerusalem Post wrote a series of false articles claiming anti-Semitism in Norway.
However, I see that Ha’aretz in an editorial has already concluded that the Swedish article is an outrageous slander not worthy of investigation.

Donald Bostrom, a veteran Swedish journalist, wrote a despicable, utterly baseless article for the tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet last week, claiming that Israel harvests the organs of Palestinians it has kidnapped or killed. The country’s excoriation was a testament to poor and unprofessional journalism, and to the low point Israel’s standing has reached in Europe. The demands of both the correspondent and his newspaper that Israel investigate the charges are also baseless – not every bit of outrageous slander is worthy of investigation.

My question to Ha’aretz: Is this conclusion based on your own investigations and knowledge, or is it based on your belief that no element of the IDF is or was capable of engaging in such activities?

To whom at Ha’aretz might I address this question?
I can understand that a claim such as Jews need the blood of Jewish children to make matzohs is such an outrageous slander that to investigate such a charge would be ridiculous, as nobody has ever seen a Jew making matzoh out of blood. But there is plenty of evidence that a number of Israelis have been involved in organ trafficking scandals through the years, and that the Israeli medical system itself has supported the purchase of organs. Is it really impossible to believe that certain elements of the IDF might have trafficked in organs at some point? The circumstances surrounding the killings Boström mentioned should have been investigated even without the charge of organ snatching.
Regards,
Bruce Wolman

Bruce Wolman
About Bruce Wolman

Bruce Wolman is a citizen journalist who has lived in Norway and the Washington area.

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