Swedish and Israeli officials condemned Wednesday an article published a day earlier in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that many have called a modern anti-Semitic blood libel.
The article, written by Donald Bostrom, was based on testimony from several Arabs identified only by their first names. It alleged that Israeli soldiers had kidnapped Arabs, harvested their organs for transplant and returned the dead bodies to their families.
Bostrom admitted Wednesday on Voice of Israel government radio that he did not know if the accounts were true. “I conducted an interview on the story,” he said, “but if it’s true or not – I don’t know, I can’t say. I personally think it’s true.”
The Israeli Foreign Ministry quickly condemned the report. “The article is a disgrace to Swedish journalism,” spokesman Yigal Palmor said. “In a democratic country there should not be dark blood libels from the Middle Ages of this type. The article embarrasses Swedish democracy and journalism.”
The Swedish Embassy in Israel agreed and quickly issued a condemnation of the article. “The article shocks the Swedes, just as it shocks the Israelis. We agree with the Israeli government, press and people that this is an unwanted article.”
“We cannot say anything more than to say that we entirely object to the article,” the embassy’s statement continued. “Just as in Israel, there is freedom of the press in Sweden. At the same time, free speech carries a responsibility that rests on the shoulders of the newspaper and the writer.”