Like cockroaches, anti-Semitism is difficult to eradicate

Case in point: Swedish photographer Donald Boström made the embarrassing mistake of diversifying out of photography into writing.

Problem: he doesn’t know how to write.

He doesn’t know how to research his subject.

He is too subjective to be objective (he is a self-confessed pro-Palestinian radical).

In short, he is a nonentity way out of his depth.

In August, he came up with the idea of linking the death 19 years ago of a Palestinian terrorist on the West Bank, with the fact that Israel, like most other countries, has a programme for organ donation. He then proceeded to link these two unrelated issues with the arrest in the United States in summer 2009 of a man accused of money-laundering. That man was a Jew, and among his alleged shady deals was trafficking in human organs. Not from dead corpses, but from live people willing to sell their organs for money – a trade in which unscrupulous people prey on the poor and make vast amounts of money out of their body parts.

But he was a Jew! This was sufficient for Donald Boström to write an anti-Semitic article that Swedish radical left-wing tabloid Aftonbladet was only too pleased to publish. That article led to particularly strained relations between Israel and Sweden since Israel felt that both the Jewish nation and Jews worldwide were being wrongfully accused of a despicable trade. The allegations aroused added ire owing to the fact that even the Arab family concerned denied that they had ever claimed their son’s organs were harvested for transplantation. Most analysts worldwide concurred that the article was an example of woefully inadequate research employed to disguise raw anti-Semitic propaganda. It echoed the traditional anti-Semitic blood-libels that have prompted innumerable pogroms against Jews worldwide over the centuries and is now a frequently used approach by large swathes of the Swedish media.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his Foreign Minister Carl Bildt claimed at the time that he could not comment on the article because the Swedish constitution protected freedom of speech and he was therefore not at liberty to make any statement on unfounded racist accusations leveled by radical left-wing Swedes. The Swedish Chancellor of Justice, however, verified that there was nothing in the constitution to prevent the PM or FM from making a statement on the issue, so long as it was just a statement and not an attempt to prevent freedom of speech. He pointed out that all Swedes enjoy freedom of speech – even the PM and FM.

Two months later, on 21 October 2009, unfounded racist accusations (read the article here, in Swedish only) were levelled by radical right-wing Swedish party The Sweden Democrats in the very same newspaper, Aftonbladet. They accused the country’s Muslims of being a threat to the nation. Within a few hours the Swedish Prime Minister went on air to distance his nation from the racist comments.

Observers worldwide shook their heads in disbelief at the two very different responses to two sets of racist allegations made to two different sets of minority Swedes – Jews and Muslims.

Now Donald Boström has added further fuel to the fire by insisting on radical Arab news channel Al Jazeera that his original allegations about Jewish organ harvesting hold true. He said, among other things:

“I showed that the organs were plundered and that illegal organ trade is being systematically undertaken in Abu-Kabir (Israel’s forensic institute in Tel-Aviv).”

“We have evidence that links Israel to this trade.”

“What I wrote in my original article is sufficient evidence, but I am nonetheless continuing to investigate the information and there is other information that other journalists are investigating.”

“In the USA there is a branch of this operation that sells organs to rich Americans.”

“(Israeli Defence Minister) Ehud Barak is lying. He knows there is illegal trade in organs. He knows that people are being killed and that their bodies are being desecrated. He is lying time after time.”

Of course, there is little hope that the Swedish Prime Minister will step in to curb Donald Boström’s anti-Semitic libels. The Swedish PM only comments when Muslim sensitivities are at risk. There are about half a million Muslims in Sweden, and less than 20,000 Jews. The mathematics is quite straightforward, with less than a year before the next national elections in Sweden.

What is remarkable is that even as Donald Boström peddles his anti-Semitisc poison in the Muslim world, his invitation to travel next month to Israel to participate in the Dimona Conference is still being extended.

Incitement to violence is a crime. It is also a very real danger to national security.

Ehud Barak, who has the ultimate responsibility for the security of the nation, ought alreadyw to have a plan for intercepting Mr Boström at the border and turning him back, just as Israel has previously barred entry to adherents of ISM, the radical Palestinian pro-terrorist group, before they could clear passport control at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israel’s security is at risk. It is true that Ehud Barak cannot persuade a cowardly Swedish Prime Minister to abandon his double standards and stand up for principle – that is after all entirely a domestic Swedish issue.

But Ehud Barak can stop the export of Swedish fundamentalism to Israel.

We’ll never rid the world of cockroaches, but we can surely keep our own doorsteps clean.

Thanks to Ron Tennenbaum of Sweden for his help in translating Donald Boström’s comments on Al Jazeera.

Andrea Levin: Anatomy of a Swedish Blood Libel