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Body Snatchers Are Back

Israel Shamir (Issues)
Filed on August 31, 2009

In the Turkish blockbuster, Valley of the Wolves, an Israeli American doctor in Abu Ghraib prison gently removes a kidney out of a live and suffering Arab prisoner and places it into a special vessel with the label “To Tel Aviv,” thus reinforcing the Israeli-American bond of eternal friendship.

Real life imitates cinema, as we learn from the dreadful story of Palestinian youths being hunted for their inner organs by that most moral army in the world, IDF, as published by a leading Swedish newspaper.

Donald Bostrom, a Swedish photographer who worked in the West Bank in 1992, was tipped off by UN officials to follow the bloody trail of Israeli soldiers who had kidnapped young Palestinians and returned their dead bodies five days later “with a slit from the abdomen up to the chin.”

The families in the West Bank and in Gaza felt they knew exactly what had happened: “Our sons were used as involuntary organ donors; they disappeared for a number of days only to be returned in the dark of night, dead and autopsied. Why did they keep their bodies for five days before letting us bury them? Why are they performing autopsies when the cause of death is obvious?” These questions continued to haunt Bostrom. He took gruesome pictures of the returned bodies. Like Vanunu, he smuggled his films abroad. When back in Sweden, he offered the story to Dagens Nyheter, a newspaper owned by the Jewish Bonnier family. DN refused to publish it. The story was laid to rest until now, when the Social Democrat newspaper Aftonbladet decided to let it run.

In Israel, the reaction was hysterical. The country is in danger of busting its guts in rage. Huge pressure has been exerted upon Swedish authorities to punish the offending author and to beg forgiveness. The Swedish Ambassador in Tel Aviv, a member of the influential Jewish family Bonnier who own the majority of Swedish newspapers, TV networks and cinemas, expressed her ‘shock and disapproval’. However, the Swedish government rejected her interference with the freedom of Press; the editors of Aftonbladet insisted on their right to say what they find fit and called for an international inquiry.

This proud stance lasted but a day or two. Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, was discomfited by Israel’s intention to cancel his scheduled visit and had already written in a blog that “such articles can cause anti-Semitism, and instigation is against the Swedish law.” It is easier to express ‘outrage about the old canard’ than to answer the questions posed by Bostrom. The facts are disturbing, and the accusations are not new. There were too many reports of such goings-on, beside the cases mentioned by the Aftonbladet. Knesset members Ahmed Tibi and Hashem Mahmid accused the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine of expropriating the inner parts of Palestinian corpses. They said that Palestinian doctors have complained about receiving the bodies of their dead emptied of their innards. Israel often does not even return the dead bodies of Palestinians to their families but has them buried in a secret cemetery. This causes even more suspicions. Worse, it fits into a larger pattern.

All over the world, Israel and Israelis are involved in trafficking human flesh, this modern form of cannibalism. Beside the case of the New Jersey ring mentioned in the Bostrom’s article, there are plenty others.

Turkey: An Israeli professor Zaki Shapira was arrested in Turkey for cutting into live Turks for ‘spare parts’, reported the Jerusalem Post.

South Africa: The New York Times, reported on an Israeli trafficking ring active from South Africa to Brazil.

Ukraine: The Jerusalem Post reported the arrest of “an Israeli organ-smuggling ring” that flew their donors and recipients to Ukraine.

In many cases, Israelis were the doctors, traffickers, smugglers and recipients of the body parts, as the Jewish state is the only country in the world where the state pays for, and best doctors are legally engaged in, the transplanting of illegally obtained organs, reported Ha’aretz. The next step was the evolution of international networks for this sort of traffic. Jews are well positioned to get involved in this sordid business: there are many Jewish doctors, with ties to Jewish communities in different countries, and there are few moral inhibitions.

The distance between kidneys bought and snatched is not that big: if organs are “just a commodity,” surely it is permissible to take them from Palestinians, just as it is ‘permitted’ to take from Palestinians centuries-old olive trees while building the Wall.

Indignation is easy, but it is not so easy to prove that the Israelis, who do not hesitate to break arms and legs and pour napalm on schoolchildren, to draw a line about getting some profit from Palestinian innards. Aftonbladet’s demand for an international enquiry is reasonable: if the Israelis have done nothing wrong (beyond murdering hundreds of young men), they have nothing to fear from an international investigation. Yet Israel refused UN enquiry commission permission to visit Jenin after the 2002 massacre and Gaza after the 2009 massacre.

For Israel, the most upsetting part of this affair was the breach made in the wall. I do not mean Sharon’s Wall protecting the biggest Jewish ghetto in the Middle East, but the wall of media control which protects it overseas.

Jews buy media all over the world for the influence it has over minds. This is the case in Sweden, where members of its tiny Jewish community own newspapers, magazines, publishing houses and even Swedish Hollywood - SFI.

No wonder Donald Bostrom wanted to tell the dreadful story he wanted to tell, but he couldn’t get through to the Swedish media.

Besides, the Jews have a potent weapon in their “anti-Semitism” label. Or do they? Could it be that the fear of anti-Semitism does not work like a charm anymore? This is possible. The Cairo speech of Obama has had no direct consequences; Obama tried to apply pressure to Israel in order to freeze the settlements, but in vain. Did he fail? It is too early to judge.

Such changes rarely occur by the wave of a magic wand … they take time. Recent publications on the Jewish criminal gang in New Jersey, attacks on Goldman Sachs, medals for Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu, the appearance of an anti-Zionist party in France — all are small and separate incidents, but together they imply that the change is coming.

Swedes, French, Germans and even New Jerseyans are no longer afraid of Washington coming at them like sixteen tons in defence of Israel, as would have been the case in the days of George W. Bush. Obama even refused to appoint a new anti-anti-Semitic commissar.

This frightens the Tel Aviv government more than anything. If today they let the Swedes get away with it, tomorrow there will be somebody else.

More importantly, Israeli outrage is a proof that transplantation of human organs is an immoral dreadful thing, too close to cannibalism, and we all know that. Yes, it is awful if Israeli soldiers tear kidneys out of Palestinians and kill them afterwards.

But it is equally awful, if a kind doctor removes a kidney out of a Detroit mechanic whose house was repossessed by a gentle banker, or out of a Ukrainian worker who was sacked by a polite oligarch, or out of an Indian farmer who has to pay his debt to Monsanto. Every poor man on the planet is a Palestinian – though the means of his dispossession may vary. This kind of thing should be stopped. The human body is sacred.

Israel Shamir is a critically acclaimed Russian-Israeli writer, journalist and peace activist. He writes for Haaretz, BBC, Pravda and lives in Jaffa


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