The Swedish government distanced itself Thursday from an ambassador's condemnation of an article accusing Israeli troops of stealing Palestinian Authority Arabs' organs. The Swedish Foreign Ministry clarified that, unlike Ambassador to Israel Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, it does not view the article as “appalling.”
Bonnier's condemnation “was solely the judgment of the embassy, and designed for an Israeli audience,” the ministry said. “However, the Swedish government is committed to freedom of the press.”
A government spokesman confirmed that Sweden's government did not agree with ambassador Bonnier's response. Members of Sweden's Green Party went further, and said Bonnier should be called back to Sweden for having made statements opposing free speech.
Bonnier termed the article “shocking and appalling,” and said, “freedom of the press and freedom of expression are freedoms which carry a certain responsibility.”
Israeli officials condemned the article as well, and accused its writers of encouraging hate crimes. “This article has clear elements of medieval blood libels against Jews,” Foreign Ministry officials said.
The article, printed in the Swedish paper Aftonbladet, claims that the IDF has been removing organs from PA Arab youth killed in combat or terrorist operations since the early 1990s. The author of the article, Donald Bostrom, admitted Wednesday that he did not know whether or not the story was true.
The editor of Aftonbladet has rejected criticism of the article, and accused his opponents of “using centuries-old anti-Semitic images,” such as that of European blood libels, “in an apparent attempt to get an obviously topical issue off the table.” The editor, Jan Helin, said that “a strong propaganda machine” was behind the appalled reactions to the story.