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A Bungled Blood Libel

Mark Twain once wryly observed:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

There is no doubt that in this internet age lies and slanders can get off to a rip roaring head start.

But encouragingly, truth has a funny way of catching up.

Consider the case of the bungled blood libel published by Aftonbladet, the largest circulation newspaper in Sweden.

If you are a regular reader of this space, you know that journalist Donald Bostrom made waves by writing an article accusing the Israeli Defense Forces of harvesting organs from Palestinians for sale on the black market.

This sounded suspiciously like a high tech updating of the ages old “blood libel” that Jews used the blood of Gentile children to make their Passover matzos.

Seems to this commentator that if you are going to accuse a nation made up of Holocaust survivors of Joseph Mengele-like behavior, you’d better be absolutely sure of your sources and have them back up their claims with indisputable evidence.

Or not.

Much to the chagrin of Anti-Semites around the world comes this update courtesy of the Jerusalem Post.

Palestinian family: We didn’t say organs taken

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.

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.

Ghanem’s younger brother, Jalal, said he could not confirm the allegations made by the Swedish newspaper that his brother’s organs had been stolen.

“I don’t know if this is true,” he said. “We don’t have any evidence to support this.”

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 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.”

Jalal said that he and other villagers recall that a Swedish photographer was in the village during the funeral and that he managed to take a number of pictures of the body before the funeral. “That was the only time we saw this photographer,” he recounted.

Ibrahim Ghanem, a relative of Bilal, said that the family never told the Swedish photographer that Israel had stolen organs from the dead man’s body.

“Maybe the journalist reached that conclusion on the basis of the stitches he saw on the body,” he said. “But as far as the family is concerned, we don’t know if organs were removed from the body because we never performed our own autopsy. All we know is that Bilal’s teeth were missing.

If you are keeping score at home, we now know that the sum total of factual evidence behind Bostrom’s article is the presence of stitches on a body returned to relatives for burial.

A few questions for our intrepid journalist to ponder:

If the IDF did remove organs from Bilal’s body in this nefarious plot, why in the world would they return the primary evidence of their dastardly deed to the family for burial?

If the IDF had gotten involved in the organ harvesting business, they obviously missed a few basic lessons in the process.

Organ donation is a tricky business even when the donor is still living. The organ donor and potential recipient must be matched to type. This is why there are people kept on artificial hearts and kidney dialysis machines for months while waiting for a suitable match for transplant.

The fact  these so called victims of the harvesting plot were already dead compounds the unlikely nature of the story. Once a potential donor dies, the window of usefulness of major organs for transplant is a matter of hours, even with immediate and careful preservation.

What Bostrom is suggesting is that the IDF must have had fantastically keen intelligence (including organ typing) on Bilal.

They shot him in the heart (so much for the hopes of cardiac patients), loaded him on a helicopter, took his corpse to a waiting transplant team which removed the body parts and completed the proposed surgery before the needed organ could go bad.

And for good measure, they used his teeth for a sporty new set of dentures for a particularly evil Jewish recipient with poor flossing habits.

But the same Jews who were so incredibly clever they could pull off this plot were also so incredibly stupid as to return what was left of Bilal to heart broken relatives who would dutifully follow their orders to bury his remains “quickly and at night”.

Does any of this make sense?

Well, as the old saying goes  -if you believe that, I have some beachfront property in Tucson to sell you.

Looks like the specious, anti-Semitic speculations run by our Swedish friends have been eclipsed by the truth.

Will there be a retraction?

An apology from the Aftonbladet newspaper?

A statement of regret by the Swedish Foreign Service?

Judging by the angry and defensive  reactions we have received after our first posting on this journalistic fiasco, I would say the chances are slim and none.

But once again we see a promise God made to Israel coming into play in this sad situation:

No weapon formed against you shall prosper,
And every tongue which rises against you in judgment
You shall condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their righteousness is from Me,”
Says the LORD.
(Isaiah 54:17, New King James Version)


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