Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Truth is a defence

...even against the accusation of "Blood Libel."

Readers will be aware of that hoary anti-Semitic trope, current in mediaeval times and more recently, that Jews murdered Christian children and made matzohs with their blood. The Nazis played this up, of course, notably in pornographer Julius Streicher's rag, Der Stürmer.

Like the word "anti-Semitic" itself, however, the phrase "Blood Libel" has been bent out of shape in the on-going Middle East debates. It has been used, for example, against those who refer too incautiously to the civilian carnage visited upon Gaza and Lebanon by the Israeli Defence Forces.

At other times, however, the label has been used with unfortunate accuracy. And one clear example of a genuine Blood Libel, or so I thought at the time, was a report in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet this past August that Israel was harvesting organs from Palestinians, a story that naturally became conflated with vile rumours being spread elsewhere. I have to say that I was completely on-side with commentary like this.

Now we discover that
the tale, although exaggerated, was not entirely made up. And, to be honest, I am now at a loss for words, and sick at heart.

UPDATE: Jehudah Hiss, the former forensic pathologist in the middle of all this, turns out to be quite a piece of work. Organ harvesting was apparently done under a "presumed consent" law that was, to put it mildly, loosely interpreted in the 1990s. I am advised that the law has since been tightened up.

[H/t Kateland b/c]

UPPERDATE: The Guardian has put out a retraction.
As the links I cited indicate, this was equal-opportunity non-consensual organ harvesting. It's easy to see, though, how the Palestinians got the wrong idea. Wouldn't you, if your dead kid was returned missing some organs, by an occupying power?

[H/t Jay Currie, b/c]

UPPESTDATE: Frequent commenter Marky Mark draws my attention to this thoughtful article by Jonathan Cook in Counterpunch. Hiss has been involved in scandals since the 1950s, at which time he was implicated in an alleged child-stealing scheme.


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