ISRAELI ORGAN THEFT: Israel ‘confirms organ harvesting’

[MaanImages]
Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – Israel has confirmed that its forensic scientists in the 1990s took organs from dead bodies, including those of Palestinians, without their families’ consent, an Israeli television report said.

Israel’s Channel 2 TV aired an interview on Saturday with the former director of the Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr Yehuda Hiss, in which he admitted to taking skin, corneas, heart valves, and bones from Israeli soldiers, Israeli civilians, Palestinians and foreign workers.

The report appeared to confirm the premise of an article in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet, which caused an explosive controversy when it appeared in August. The article quoted Palestinians alleging that Israel returned their relatives bodies with their chests sewn up, suggesting organ harvesting.

Israeli officials denounced the report at the time, labeling it “anti-Semitic,” but did not comment on the specific allegations.

The interview with Hiss was filmed in 2000 by an American academic, Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, who said she released the footage in the wake of the Aftonbladet controversy.

In a response to the TV report, the Israeli military confirmed that the practice took place. “This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer,” the military said in a statement quoted by Channel 2.

In the interview, Hiss describes the steps he and other scientists took to conceal the thefts.

“We used to take corneas without plucking out the eyes. We used to glue them shut. We did that for the purpose of scientific advancement,” Hiss said in the interview.

“We used to take skin from the backs of dead people, and the families wouldn’t notice that because they buried the dead without turning them over,” another pathologist is quoted as saying in the report.

Hiss said he ignored Israeli law that prohibits harvesting organs without a family’s consent.

“We used to send organs to Israeli hospitals, particularly Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv, because many doctors there were friends of mine. We didn’t ask for money in return, but four years later, the hospital gave us a microscope. We also sent organs to Hadassah Hospital, and in return they gave us a video camera that can film corpses from inside,” Hiss was quoted as saying.

According to Channel 2, In 1986, Israel established a skin bank. Skin supplied by the Abu Kibir institute was used in transplants for wounded soldiers and burn patients.

The right-wing Israeli Knesset member Aryeh Eldad, a plastic surgeon, was also quoted on the program saying, “We had orders to harvest organs without families consent.”

Former Israeli MK Arieh Eldad who is a surgeon specialized in plastic surgery and burns said, according to Israeli TV report, “We had orders to harvest organs without families consent.”

Lawsuits were filed against the institute, however, including by the families of Israeli soldiers. One of these came from the father of a soldier, who appeared on the Channel 2 report saying that he opened his son’s coffin to find that his neck was cut and his eyes plucked out.

Under mounting pressure, Hiss was fired in 1998.

Israel’s Health Ministry told Channel 2 that all harvesting had been done with permission and, “For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law.”

Ref: Maan

….

Again, as with many israeli violations this is not really “news”. A colonial, racist state creates and reproduces these kinds of practices everyday as part of it´s banality. Everytime Israel denies these practices one knows that they are true!

Read more…

Israel admits harvesting organs without OK

Israel Harvested Organs in ’90s Without Permission

Report: Israel admits to harvesting organs in the 1990s

ISRAELI ORGAN TRAFFICKING: The Autopsy Surgeon Aftonbladet Forgot

The hyperventilating by Israel’s leaders [1] over a story published in a Swedish newspaper last month [2] suggesting that the Israeli army assisted in organ theft from Palestinians has distracted attention from the disturbing allegations made by Palestinian families that were the basis of the article’s central claim.

The families’ fears that relatives, killed by the Israeli army, had body parts removed during unauthorized autopsies performed in Israel have been overshadowed by accusations of a “blood libel” directed against the reporter, Donald Bostrom, and the Aftonbladet newspaper, as well as the Swedish government and people.

I have no idea whether the story is true. Like most journalists working in Israel and Palestine, I have heard such rumours before. Until Bostrom wrote his piece, no Western journalist, as far as I know, had investigated them. After so many years, the assumption by journalists was that there was little hope of finding evidence — apart from literally by digging up the corpses. Doubtless, the inevitable charge of anti-semitism such reports attract acted as a powerful deterrent too.

What is striking about this episode is that the families making the claims were not given a hearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the first intifada, when most of the reports occurred, and are still being denied the right to voice their concerns today.

Israel’s sensitivity to the allegation of organ theft — or “harvesting”, as many observers coyly refer to the practice — appears to trump the genuine concerns of the families about possible abuse of their loved ones.

Bostrom has been much criticized for the flimsy evidence he produced in support of his inflammatory story. Certainly there is much to criticize in his and the newspaper’s presentation of the report.

Most significantly, Bostrom and Aftonbladet exposed themselves to the charge of anti-semitism — at least from Israeli officials keen to make mischief — through a major error of judgment.

They muddied the waters by trying to make a tenuous connection between the Palestinian families’ allegations about organ theft during unauthorized autopsies and the entirely separate revelations this month that a group of US Jews had been arrested for money-laundering and trading in body parts. [3]

In making that connection, Bostrom and Aftonbladet suggested that the problem of organ theft is a current one when they have produced only examples of such concern from the early 1990s. They also implied, whether intentionally or not, that abuses allegedly committed by the Israeli army could somehow be extrapolated more generally to Jews.

The Swedish reporter should instead have concentrated on the valid question raised by the families about why the Israeli army, by its own admission, took away the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by its soldiers, allowed autopsies to be performed on them without the families’ permission and then returned the bodies for burial in ceremonies held under tight security.

Bostrom’s article highlighted the case of one Palestinian, 19-year-old Bilal Ahmed Ghanan, from the village of Imatin in the northern West Bank, who was killed in 1992. A shocking picture of Bilal’s stitched-up body accompanied the report. [4]

Bostrom has told the Israeli media that he knows of at least 20 cases of families claiming that the bodies of loved ones were returned with body parts missing, [5] although he did not say whether any of these alleged incidents occurred more recently.

In 1992, the year in question, Bostrom says, the Israeli army admitted to him that it took away for autopsy 69 of the 133 Palestinians who died of unnatural causes. The army has not denied this part of his report.

A justifiable question from the families relayed by Bostrom is: why did the army want the autopsies carried out? Unless it can be shown that the army intended to conduct investigations into the deaths — and there is apparently no suggestion that it did — the autopsies were unnecessary.

In fact, they were more than unnecessary. They were counterproductive if we assume that the army has no interest in gathering evidence that could be used in future war crimes prosecutions of its soldiers. Israel has a long track record of stymying investigations into Palestinian deaths at the hands of its soldiers, and carried on that ignoble tradition in the wake of its recent assault on Gaza.

Of even greater concern for the Palestinian families is the fact that at around the time the bodies of their loved ones were whisked off by the army for autopsy, the only institute in Israel that conducts such autopsies, Abu Kabir, near Tel Aviv, was almost certainly at the centre of a trade in organs that later became a scandal inside Israel.

Equally disturbing, the doctor behind the plunder of body parts, Prof Yehuda Hiss, appointed director of the Abu Kabir institute in the late 1980s, has never been jailed despite admitting to the organ theft and he continues to be the state’s chief pathologist at the institute.

Hiss was in charge of the autopsies of Palestinians when Bostrom was listening to the families’ claims in 1992. Hiss was subsequently investigated twice, in 2002 and 2005, over the theft of body parts on a large scale.

Allegations of Hiss’ illegal trade in organs was first revealed in 2000 by investigative reporters at the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, which reported that he had “price listings” for body parts and that he sold mainly to Israeli universities and medical schools. [6]

Apparently undeterred by these revelations, Hiss still had an array of body parts in his possession at Abu Kabir when the Israeli courts ordered a search in 2002. Israel National News reported at the time: “Over the past years, heads of the institute appear to have given thousands of organs for research without permission, while maintaining a ‘storehouse’ of organs at Abu Kabir.” [7]

Hiss did not deny the plunder of organs, admitting that the body parts belonged to soldiers killed in action and had been passed to medical institutes and hospitals in the interests of advancing research. Understandably, however, the Palestinian families are unlikely to be satisfied with Hiss’ explanation. If the wishes of a soldier’s familiy were disregarded by Hiss, why not Palestinian families’ wishes too?

Hiss was allowed to continue as director of Abu Kabir until 2005 when allegations of a trade in organs surfaced again. On this occasion Hiss admitted to having removed parts from 125 bodies without authorization. Following a plea bargain with the state, the attorney general decided not to press criminal charges and Hiss was given only a reprimand. [8] He has continued as chief pathologist at Abu Kabir.

It should also be noted, as Bostrom points out, that in the early 1990s Israel was suffering from an acute shortage of organ donors to the extent that Ehud Olmert, health minister at the time, launched a public campaign to encourage Israelis to come forward.

This offers a possible explanation for Hiss’ actions. He may have acted to help make up the shortfall.

Given the facts that are known, there must be at least a very strong suspicion that Hiss removed organs without authorisation from some Palestinians he autopsied. Both this issue, and the army’s possible role in supplying him with corpses, needs investigation.

Hiss is also implicated in another long-running and unresolved scandal from Israel’s early years, in the 1950s, when the children of recent Jewish immigrants to Israel from Yemen were adopted by Ashkenazi couples after the Yeminite parents had been told that their child had died, [9] usually after admission to hospital.

After an initial cover-up, the Yeminite parents have continued pressing for answers from the state, and forced officials to reopen the files. [8] The Palestinian families deserve no less.

However, unlike the Yemenite parents, their chances of receiving any kind of investigation, transparent or otherwise, look all but hopeless.

When Palestinian demands for justice are not backed by investigations from journalists or the protests of the international community, Israel can safely ignore them.

It is worth remembering in this context the constant refrain from Israel’s peace camp that the brutal, four-decade occupation of the Palestinians has profoundly corrupted Israeli society.

When the army enjoys power without accountability, how do Palestinians, or we, know what soldiers are allowed to get away with under cover of occupation? What restraints are in place to prevent abuses? And who takes them to task if they do commit crimes?

Similarly, when Israeli politicians are able to cry “blood libel” or “anti-semitism” when they are criticised, damaging the reputations of those they accuse, what incentive do they have to initiate inquiries that may harm them or the institutions they oversee? What reason do they have to be honest when they can bludgeon a critic into silence, at no cost to themselves?

This is the meaning of the phrase “Power corrupts”, and Israeli politicians and soldiers, as well as at least one pathologist, demonstrably have far too much power — most especially over Palestinians under occupation.

Israeli Organ Harvesting – The New “Blood Libel”?

Last week Sweden’s largest daily newspaper published an article containing shocking material: testimony and circumstantial evidence indicating that Israelis may have been harvesting internal organs from Palestinian prisoners without consent for many years.

Worse yet, some of the information reported in the article suggests that in some instances Palestinians may have been captured with this macabre purpose in mind.

In the article, “Our sons plundered for their organs,” veteran journalist Donald Bostrom writes that Palestinians “harbor strong suspicions against Israel for seizing young men and having them serve as the country’s organ reserve – a very serious accusation, with enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation about possible war crimes.”1/

An army of Israeli officials and apologists immediately went into high gear, calling both Bostrom and the newspaper’s editors “anti-Semitic.” The Israeli foreign minister was reportedly “aghast” and termed it “a demonizing piece of blood libel.” An Israeli official called it “hate porn.”

Commentary magazine wrote that the story was “merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of European funded and promoted anti-Israel hate.” Numerous people likened the article to the medieval “blood libel,” (widely refuted stories that Jews killed people to use their blood in religious rituals). Even some pro-Palestinian writers joined in the criticism, expressing skepticism.

The fact is, however, that substantiated evidence of public and private organ trafficking and theft, and allegations of worse, have been widely reported for many years. Given such context, the Swedish charges become far more plausible than might otherwise be the case and suggest that an investigation could well turn up significant information.

Below are a few examples of previous reports on this topic.

Israel’s first heart transplant

Israel’s very first, historic heart transplant used a heart removed from a living patient without consent or consulting his family.

In December 1968 a man named Avraham Sadegat (the New York Times seems to give his name as A Savgat) (2) died two days after a stroke, even though his family had been told he was “doing well.”

After initially refusing to release his body, the Israeli hospital where he was being treated finally turned the man’s body over to his family. They discovered that his upper body was wrapped in bandages; an odd situation, they felt, for someone who had suffered a stroke.

When they removed the bandages, they discovered that the chest cavity was stuffed with bandages, and the heart was missing.

During this time, the headline-making Israeli heart transplant had occurred. After their initial shock, the man’s wife and brother began to put the two events together and demanded answers.

The hospital at first denied that Sadegat’s heart had been used in the headline-making transplant, but the family raised a media storm and eventually applied to three cabinet ministers. Finally, weeks later and after the family had signed a document promising not to sue, the hospital admitted that Sadagat’s heart had been used.

The hospital explained that it had abided by Israeli law, which allowed organs to be harvested without the family’s consent. (3) (The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime includes the extraction of organs in its definition of human exploitation.)

Indications that the removal of Sadagat’s heart was the actual cause of death went unaddressed.

Director of forensic medicine on missing organs

A 1990 article in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs entitled “Autopsies and Executions” by Mary Barrett reports on the grotesque killings of young Palestinians. It includes an interview with Dr. Hatem Abu Ghazalch, the former chief health official for the West Bank under Jordanian administration and director of forensic medicine and autopsies.

Barrett asks him about “the widespread anxiety over organ thefts which has gripped Gaza and the West Bank since the intifada began in December of 1987.”

He responded:

“There are indications that for one reason or another, organs, especially eyes and kidneys, were removed from the bodies during the first year or year and a half. There were just too many reports by credible people for there to be nothing happening. If someone is shot in the head and comes home in a plastic bag without internal organs, what will people assume?” (4)

Mysterious Scottish death

In 1998 a Scot named Alisdair Sinclair died under questionable circumstances while in Israeli custody at Ben Gurion airport.

His family was informed of the death and, according to a report in J Weekly, “…told they had three weeks to come up with about $4,900 to fly Sinclair’s corpse home. [Alisdair’s brother] says the Israelis seemed to be pushing a different option: burying Sinclair in a Christian cemetery in Israel, at a cost of about $1,300.”

The family scraped up the money, brought the body home, and had an autopsy performed at the University of Glasgow. It turned out that Alisdair’s heart and a tiny throat bone were missing. At this point the British Embassy filed a complaint with Israel.

The J report states:

“A heart said to be Sinclair’s was subsequently repatriated to Britain, free of charge. James wanted the [Israeli] Forensic Institute to pay for a DNA test to confirm that this heart was indeed their brother’s, but the Institute’s director, Professor Jehuda Hiss refused, citing the prohibitive cost, estimated by some sources at $1,500.”

Despite repeated requests from the British Embassy for the Israeli pathologist’s and police reports, Israeli officials refused to release either. (5,6,7)

Israeli government officials raise questions

Palestinian journalist Khalid Amayreh reports in an article in CCUN:

“In January, 2002, an Israeli cabinet minister tacitly admitted that organs taken from the bodies of Palestinian victims might have been used for transplants in Jewish patients without the knowledge of the Palestinian victims’ families.

“The minister, Nessim Dahan, said in response to a question by an Arab Knesset member that he couldn’t deny or confirm that organs of Palestinian youths and children killed by the Israeli army were taken out for transplants or scientific research.

“‘I couldn’t say for sure that something like that didn’t happen.’”

Amayreh writes that the Knesset member who posed the question said that he “had received ‘credible evidence proving that Israeli doctors at the forensic institute of Abu Kabir extracted such vital organs as the heart, kidneys, and liver from the bodies of Palestinian youth and children killed by the Israeli army in Gaza and the West Bank.” (8)

Israel’s chief pathologist removed from post for stealing body parts

For a number of years there were allegations that Israel’s leading pathologist was stealing body parts. In 2001 the Israeli national news service reported:

“… the parents of soldier Ze’ev Buzgallo who was killed in a Golan Heights military training accident, are filing a petition with the High Court of Justice calling for the immediate suspension of Dr. Yehuda Hiss and that criminal charges be filed against him. Hiss serves as the director of the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute….According to the parents, the body of their son was used for medical experimentation without their consent, experiments authorized by Hiss. (9)

In 2002 the service reported:

“The revelation of illegally stored body parts in the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute has prompted MK Anat Maor, chairman of the Knesset Science Committee, to demand the immediate suspension of the director, Prof. Yehuda Hiss.”

Alisdair Sinclair’s death had first alerted authorities to Hiss’s malfeasance in 1998, though nothing was done for years. The Forward reported:

“In 2001, an Israeli Health Ministry investigation found that Hiss had been involved for years in taking body parts, such as legs, ovaries and testicles, without family permission during autopsies, and selling them to medical schools for use in research and training. He was appointed chief pathologist in 1988. Hiss was never charged with any crime, but in 2004 he was forced to step down from running the state morgue, following years of complaints.” (10)

Harvesting kidneys from impoverished communities

According to the Economist, a kidney racket flourished in South Africa between 2001 and 2003. “Donors were recruited in Brazil, Israel and Romania with offers of $5,000-20,000 to visit Durban and forfeit a kidney. The 109 recipients, mainly Israelis, each paid up to $120,000 for a “transplant holiday”; they pretended they were relatives of the donors and that no cash changed hands.” (11)

In 2004 a legislative commission in Brazil reported, “At least 30 Brazilians have sold their kidneys to an international human organ trafficking ring for transplants performed in South Africa, with Israel providing most of the funding.”

According to an IPS report: “The recipients were mostly Israelis, who receive health insurance reimbursements of 70,000 to 80,000 dollars for life-saving medical procedures performed abroad.”

IPS reports:

The Brazilians were recruited in Brazil’s most impoverished neighbourhoods and were paid $10,000 per kidney, “but as ‘supply’ increased, the payments fell as low as 3,000 dollars.” The trafficking had been organized by a retired Israeli police officer, who said “he did not think he was committing a crime, given that the transaction is considered legal by his country’s government.”

The Israeli embassy issued a statement denying any participation by the Israeli government in the illegal trade of human organs but said it did recognize that its citizens, in emergency cases, could undergo organ transplants in other countries, “in a legal manner, complying with international norms,” and with the financial support of their medical insurance.

However, IPS reports that the commission chair termed the Israeli stance “at the very least ‘anti-ethical’, adding that trafficking can only take place on a major scale if there is a major source of financing, such as the Israeli health system.” He went on to state that the resources provided by the Israeli health system “were a determining factor” that allowed the network to function. (12)

Tel Aviv hospital head promotes organ trafficking

IPS goes on to report:

“Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who heads the Organs Watch project at the U.S. University of California, Berkeley, testified to the Pernambuco legislative commission that international trafficking of human organs began some 12 years ago, promoted by Zacki Shapira, former director of a hospital in Tel Aviv.

“Shapira performed more than 300 kidney transplants, sometimes accompanying his patients to other countries, such as Turkey. The recipients are very wealthy or have very good health insurance, and the ‘donors’ are very poor people from Eastern Europe, Philippines and other developing countries, said Scheper-Hughes, who specialises in medical anthropology.”

Israel prosecutes organ traffickers

In 2007 Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper reported that two men confessed to persuading “Arabs from the Galilee and central Israel who were developmentally challenged or mentally ill to agree to have a kidney removed for payment.” They then would refuse to pay them.

The paper reported that the two were part of a criminal ring that included an Israeli surgeon. According to the indictment, the surgeon sold the kidneys he harvested for between $125,000 and $135,000. (13)

Earlier that year another Israeli newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, reported that ten members of an Israeli organ smuggling ring targeting Ukrainians had been arrested. (14)

In still another 2007 story, the Jerusalem Post reported that “Professor Zaki Shapira, one of Israel’s leading transplant surgeons, was arrested in Turkey on Thursday on suspicion of involvement in an organ trafficking ring. According to the report, the transplants were arranged in Turkey and took place at private hospitals in Istanbul.”

Israeli organ trafficking comes to the U.S.?

In July of this year even US media reported on the arrest of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from Brooklyn, recently arrested by federal officials in a massive corruption sweep in New Jersey that netted mayors, government officials and a number of prominent rabbis. Bostrom opens his article with this incident.

According to the federal complaint, Rosenbaum, who has close ties to Israel, said that he had been involved in the illegal sale of kidneys for 10 years. A US Attorney explained: “His business was to entice vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000 which he would turn around and sell for $160,000.” (15)

This is reportedly the first case of international organ trafficking in the U.S.

University of California anthropologist and organ trade expert Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who informed the FBI about Rosenbaum seven years ago, says she heard reports that he had held donors at gunpoint to ensure they followed through on agreements to “donate” their organs. (16)

Israel’s organ donor problems

Israel has an extraordinarily small number of willing organ donors. According to the Israeli news service Ynet, “the percentage of organs donated among Jews is the lowest of all the ethnic groups… In western countries, some 30 per cent of the population have organ donor cards. In Israel, in contrast, four percent of the population holds such cards. (17)

“According to statistics from the Health Ministry’s website, in 2001, 88 Israelis died waiting for a transplant because of a lack of donor organs. In the same year, 180 Israelis were brain dead, and their organs could have been used for transplant, but only 80 of their relatives agreed to donate their organs.”

According to Ynet, the low incidence of donors is related to “religious reasons.” In 2006 there was an uproar when an Israeli hospital known for its compliance with Jewish law performed a transplant operation using an Israeli donor. The week before, “a similar incident occurred, but since the patient was not Jewish it passed silently.” (18, 19)

The Swedish article reports that ‘Israel has repeatedly been under fire for its unethical ways of dealing with organs and transplants. France was among the countries that ceased organ collaboration with Israel in the 1990s. Jerusalem Post wrote that “the rest of the European countries are expected to follow France’s example shortly.”

“Half of the kidneys transplanted to Israelis since the beginning of the 2000s have been bought illegally from Turkey, Eastern Europe or Latin America. Israeli health authorities have full knowledge of this business but do nothing to stop it. At a conference in 2003 it was shown that Israel is the only western country with a medical profession that doesn’t condemn the illegal organ trade. The country takes no legal measures against doctors participating in the illegal business – on the contrary, chief medical officers of Israel’s big hospitals are involved in most of the illegal transplants, according to Dagens Nyheter (December 5, 2003).”

To fill this need former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, then health minister of Israel, organized a big donor campaign in the summer of 1992, but while the number of donors skyrocketed, need still greatly surpassed supply.

Palestinian disappearances increase

Bostrom, who earlier wrote of all this in his 2001 book Inshallah, (20) reports in his recent article:

“While the campaign was running, young Palestinian men started to disappear from villages in the West Bank and Gaza. After five days Israeli soldiers would bring them back dead, with their bodies ripped open.

“Talk of the bodies terrified the population of the occupied territories. There were rumors of a dramatic increase of young men disappearing, with ensuing nightly funerals of autopsied bodies.”

“I was in the area at the time, working on a book. On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it. On an assignment from a broadcasting network I then travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed.”

He describes the case of 19-year-old Bilal Achmed Ghanan, shot by Israeli forces invading his village.

“The first shot hit him in the chest. According to villagers who witnessed the incident he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then ran down from the carpentry workshop and shot Bilal once in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet and dragged him up the twenty stone steps of the workshop stair… Israeli soldiers loading the badly wounded Bilal in a jeep and driving him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. The boy was flown to a destination unknown to his family.”

Five days later he was returned, “dead and wrapped up in green hospital fabric.” Bostrom reports that as the body was lowered into the grave, his chest was exposed and onlookers could see that he was stitched up from his stomach to his head. Bostrom writes that this was not the first time people had seen such a thing.

“The families in the West Bank and in Gaza felt that they knew exactly what had happened: “Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,” relatives of Khaled from Nablus told me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.”

Why autopsies?

Bostrom describes the questions that families asked:

“Why are they keeping the bodies for up to five days before they let us bury them? What happened to the bodies during that time? Why are they performing autopsy, against our will, when the cause of death is obvious? Why are the bodies returned at night? Why is it done with a military escort? Why is the area closed off during the funeral? Why is the electricity interrupted?”

Israel’s answer was that all Palestinians who were killed were routinely autopsied. However, Bostrom points out that of the133 Palestinians who were killed that year, only 69 were autopsied.

He goes on to write:

“We know that Israel has a great need for organs, that there is a vast and illegal trade of organs which has been running for many years now, that the authorities are aware of it and that doctors in managing positions at the big hospitals participate, as well as civil servants at various levels. We also know that young Palestinian men disappeared, that they were brought back after five days, at night, under tremendous secrecy, stitched back together after having been cut from abdomen to chin.

It’s time to bring clarity to this macabre business, to shed light on what is going on and what has taken place in the territories occupied by Israel since the Intifada began.” (21)

The new “Blood Libel”?

In scanning through the reaction to Bostrom’s report, one is struck by the multitude of charges that his article is a new version of the old anti-Semitic “blood libel.” Given that fact, it is interesting to examine a 2007 book by Israel’s preeminent expert on medieval Jewish history, and what happened to him.

The author is Bar-Ilan professor (and rabbi) Ariel Toaff, son of the former chief rabbi of Rome, a religious leader so famous that an Israeli journalist writes that Toaff’s father “is to Italian Jewry as the Eiffel Tower is to Paris.” Ariel Toaff, himself, is considered “one of the greatest scholars in his field.” (22, 23)

In February 2007 the Israeli and Italian media were abuzz (though most of the U.S. media somehow missed it) with news that Professor Toaff had written a book entitled “Pasque di Sangue” (“Blood Passovers”) (24) containing evidence that there “was a factual basis for some of the medieval blood libels against the Jews.”

Based on 35 years of research, Toaff had concluded that there were at least a few, possibly many, real incidents.

In an interview with an Italian newspaper (the book was published in Italy), Toaff says:

“My research shows that in the Middle Ages, a group of fundamentalist Jews did not respect the biblical prohibition and used blood for healing. It is just one group of Jews, who belonged to the communities that suffered the severest persecution during the Crusades. From this trauma came a passion for revenge that in some cases led to responses, among them ritual murder of Christian children.” (25)

(Incidentally, an earlier book containing similar findings was published some years ago, also by an Israeli professor, Israel Shahak, of whom Noam Chomsky once wrote, “Shahak is an outstanding scholar, with remarkable insight and depth of knowledge. His work is informed and penetrating, a contribution of great value.” ) (26)

Professor Toaff was immediately attacked from all sides, including pressure orchestrated by Anti-Defamation League chairman Abe Foxman, but Toaff stood by his 35 years of research, announcing:

“I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me… One shouldn’t be afraid to tell the truth.”

Before long, however, under relentless public and private pressure, Toaff had recanted, withdrawn his book, and promised to give all profits that had already accrued (the book had been flying off Italian bookshelves) to Foxman’s Anti-Defamation League. A year later he published a “revised version.”

Donald Bostrom’s experience seems to be a repeat of what Professor Toaff endured: calumny, vituperation, and defamation. Bostrom has received death threats as well, perhaps an experience that Professor Toaff also shared.

If Israel is innocent of organ plundering accusations, or if its culpability is considerably less than Bostrom and others suggest, it should welcome honest investigations that would clear it of wrongdoing. Instead, the government and its advocates are working to suppress all debate and crush those whose questions and conclusions they find threatening.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than responding to calls for an investigation, is demanding that the Swedish government abandon its commitment to a free press and condemn the article. The Israeli press office, apparently in retaliation and to prevent additional investigation, is refusing to give press credentials to reporters from the offending newspaper.

Just as in the case of the rampage against Jenin, the attack on the USS liberty, the massacre of Gaza, the crushing of Rachel Corrie, the torture of American citizens, and a multitude of other examples, Israel is using its considerable, worldwide resources to interfere with the investigative process.

It is difficult to conclude that it has nothing to hide.

REF: COUNTERPUNCH
Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew. A version of this article containing citations and additional information is available at http://ifamericansknew/cur_sit/sweden.html

Notes.

1/ There are two English translations; this article uses the first:
http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=8390&lg=en
http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/authors/SwedishTrans.html

The original Swedish article in Aftonbladet can be viewed at
http://www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article5652583.ab

2/ New York Times, Feb. 3, 1969, p. 8, Column 6 (53 words)
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1046041.html

3/ 40 years after Israel’s first transplant, donor’s family says his heart was stolen
By Dana Weiler-Polak, Haaretz Correspondent, Dec. 14, 2008
http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/0490/9004021.htm

4/ Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 1990, Page 21, The Intifada: Autopsies and Executions
http://www.jweekly.com/

5/ October 30, 1998,Bizarre death of Scottish tourist involves suicide, missing heart
by NETTY C. GROSS, Jerusalem Post Service
http://www.forward.com/articles/112915/

6/ The Forward, Illicit Body-Part Sales Present Widespread Problem, By Rebecca Dube, Aug. 26, 2009
http://www.mail-archive.com/ctrl@listserv.aol.com/msg114437.html

7/ Masons, Muslims, Templars, Jews, Henry and Dolly.
http://ccun.org/Opinion

8/ Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding, Khalid Amayreh, August 20, 2009

9/ http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/Flash.aspx/12699

10/ http://www.forward.com/articles/112915/

11/ http://www.economist.com/

12/ The Economist, Organ transplants: The gap between supply and demand, Oct. 9, 2008

12/http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=22524
BRAZIL: Poor Sell Organs to Trans-Atlantic Trafficking Ring
By Mario Osava, IPS, Feb. 23, 2004

13/ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/935092.html
Haaretz, Two Haifa men sentenced to jail for organ trafficking, By Fadi Eyadat, Dec. 18, 2007

14/ http://www.jpost.com/Police uncover illegal organ trade ring
By REBECCA ANNA STOIL, July 23, 2007

15/ http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/671687
Sting rocks U.S. transplant industry, David Porter, Carla K. Johnson, ASSOCIATED PRESS, july 25, 2009

16/ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1102799.html
U.S. Professor: I told FBI about kidney trafficking 7 years ago
By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent, August, 3, 2009

17/ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3388529,00.html
A mitzvah called organ donation, Efrat Shapira-Rosenberg, 10.6.07

18/ http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3265889,00.html
Orthodox in uproar over organ donation incident, Neta Sela, 06.22.06

19/ http://www.israelshamir.net/English/Body_Snatchers.htm
The Return of the Body Snatchers, By Israel Shamir,

20/ http://www.bokus.com/b/9789170370939.html

21/ http://www.tlaxcala.es/pp.asp?reference=8390&lg=en

22/ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/829381.html
Ha’aretz. The Wayward Son, by Adi Schwartz, March 1, 2007

23/ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/824152.html
Ha’aaretz, Bar-Ilan to order professor to explain research behind blood libel book
By Ofri Ilani, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press, Feb 11, 2007

24/ http://www.bloodpassover.com/toafftableofcontents.htm
Israeli writer Israel Shamir reports that some years ago “…a leading Chabad rabbi, Yitzhak Ginzburgh, gave his religious permission for a Jew to take a liver from a non-Jew even without his consent. He said that ‘a Jew is entitled to extract the liver from a goy if he needs it, for the life of a Jew is more valuable than the life of a goy, likewise the life of a goy is more valuable than the life of an animal.’

25/ http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/824152.html
Haaretz, Bar Ilan to order professor to explain research behind blood libel book, by Ofri Hani, Feb. 11, 2007.

26. http://www.wrmea.com/archives/august-september01/0108011.html
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, August/September 2001, page 11, In Memoriam: Israel Shahak (1933-2001), By Norton Mezvinsky

Israeli surgeon jailed for organ trafficking to be extradited from Ukraine

Kiev, Jerusalem said to be negotiating extradition of Dr. Michael Zis, convicted by Ukrainian authorities of performing illegal transplants, organ trafficking

Israeli surgeon Dr. Michael Zis, who was arrested 18 months ago in Ukraine on suspicion of organ trafficking and sentenced to jail for performing illegal organ transplants, will be extradited to Israel, Ukrainian media reported Monday.

Jerusalem and Kiev have an extradition treaty and according to reports, Zis will remain in custody pending his transfer to Israel.

The Justice Ministry refused to comment on the status of the extradition request or on what legal fate awaits Zis once he arrives in Israel.

The Zis case dates back to 2007, when Israeli authorities tried and convicted two residents of Haifa, Muhammad Taha Jat, also knows as John Allen, and Hassan Zahalka, for soliciting four people to illegally donate their kidneys for a NIS 7,000 payment (about $1,800).

The two targeted people from a low socioeconomic background, manipulated them into the procedure and arranged for them to fly to Ukraine, where Zis operated on them for a fee of about $125,000. Upon returning to Israel, the four discovered that they were swindled.

Zis was arrested in early 2008. The Ukrainian authorities sought to charge him with organ trafficking, but following an 18-month investigation, the charges were amended to breaking the transplant law.

According to the prosecution, the eventual decision to commute his sentence stemmed from the fact that his offenses were “relatively mild.”

Zis never admitted any wrongdoing. His attorney told the Ukrainian media that his health has deteriorated during his time in jail.

The surgeon is still in custody even tough the Kiev court agreed to release him. Should his extradition to Israel be delayed much further, he would be able to sue the local authorities for unjustified incarceration.

ref: ynetnews

Israeli Bodysnatchers – Story Puts Israeli Government in Frenzied Denial Mode

The investigative report written by Swedish journalist Donald Boström and published in Sweden’s largest newspaper Aftonbladet about Israeli occupation forces killing Palestinians with the objective of stealing their organs has raised a political and media storm in Israel, disclosing up a horrible crime perpetrated for years under the full gaze of the ‘free’ world. These criminal acts began in 1992 when Palestinians started to witness a sharp rise in the number of young Palestinians disappearing and of bodies of Palestinians killed by occupation forces being returned with organs such as hearts, kidneys, livers and eyes missing.

“I was in the area at the time, working on a book”, Boström writes. “On several occasions I was approached by UN staff concerned about the developments. The persons contacting me said that organ theft definitely occurred but that they were prevented from doing anything about it…. I travelled around interviewing a great number of Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza – meeting parents who told of how their sons had been deprived of organs before being killed. One example that I encountered on this eerie trip was the young stone-thrower Bilal Ahmed Ghanam”.

Bilal, 19, was one of 133 Palestinians killed in various ways that year; 69 of them went through postmortem examination. Boström describes in detail how Israeli occupation soldiers targeted Bilal, a leader of the stone-throwing children, at midnight on May 13, 1992, shot him first in the chest and he was subsequently shot with one bullet in each leg. Two soldiers then shot Bilal in the stomach. Finally, they grabbed him by his feet, dragged him, then loaded him in a jeep and drove him to the outskirts of the village, where a military helicopter waited. He was flown to an unknown destination. Five days later he came back, dead and wrapped in green hospital fabric. It was clear that Bilal’s body was slit from his abdomen up to his chin. The families and relatives of Khaled from Nablus, the mother of Raed from Jenin and the uncles of Mahmood and Nafez from Gaza, all talked to Boström about their children who had all disappeared for a number of days only to return at night, dead and autopsied.

Investigations in New Jersey, have proved that Rabbi Levy-Izhak (Isaac Rosenbaum) from Brooklyn and other rabbis have run for years networks to sell the kidneys of Palestinian martyrs in the US black market. Patients in the United States paid up to US$ 160,000 per kidney. In 2003, a medical conference showed that Israel is the only country in the world in which the medical profession does not condemn stealing human organs and does not act against those involved in such a crime. On the contrary, and as was revealed by a Dagens Nyheter report on December 5, 2003 and the Aftonbladet report of August 17, 2009, prominent doctors in major Israeli hospitals steal and transplant organs routinely. When asked about the number of bodies sold by rabbi Rosenbaum, he answers proudly, “we are talking about a very large number,” and that his company has worked in this field “for a long period of time”.

Francis Delmonici, professor of transplant surgery at Harvard University confirms that organ trafficking is widespread in Israel and believes that there is sufficient evidence to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli crimes. Israeli media have turned the results shown by Aftonbladet’s investigative report into a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and Israel instead of demanding an end to this atrocious crime and bringing those corrupt criminals to justice.

Headlines highlighted that the Swedish prime minister refused to apologize and that Donald Boström refused to withdraw the report despite the fact that he received death threats. What should the Swedish prime minister apologize for? Israel, not Sweden, is accused of killing young people, stealing and trafficking in their organs; and it is Israel which should be put on trial. They behaved in the same way with Mary Robinson and others who defended the rights of the Palestinians. They raised a media storm about president Obama awarding her the Medal of Freedom because she took a courageous stand in support of justice in Palestine. They behaved in the same way towards the author of this article because she wrote a column in Assharq al-Awsat newspaper in which she lauded Robinson’s courage in defense of human rights.

The Jerusalem Post published an article against me on August 17, 2009 which is full of incitement and accusations which aim at creating negative preconceived ideas about the author. The question here is why the Jerusalem Post article ignored mentioning the Swedish foreign minister Anna Maria Lindh who I mentioned along with Mary Robinson in my article, and who also took honourable stances in support of justice in Palestine, was arrested several times by Israeli occupation forces in the West Bank and was then assassinated in ambiguous circumstances.

This means that official circles in Israel divert attention from an atrocious crime committed against unarmed civilian Palestinians for over sixty years to a mere article which causes a diplomatic standoff. The same circles instruct the Jerusalem Post to attack my article which calls for honoring honest leaders of the world, like Mary Robinson, for defending justice. Has the world read about how Israel interrogates Palestinian women prisoners after stripping them naked in order to humiliate them? Is writing about them and defending their dignity a form of anti-Semitism and hostility towards Israel and the United States? And why do Israeli media implicate the United States in such crimes?

Despite the ferocious official Israeli campaign to silent free and honest individuals, the circle of those who believe in justice and freedom is getting wider. These are not only politicians, academics and journalists who are targeted by Israeli death or defamation squads who assassinate or muzzle them; they are the vanguard of a global movement to liberate the Palestinian people from this ugly barbarianism. The great thing is that they come from all religions and nationalities; and they will be remembered by history as the first to dare carry the torch of supporting freedom and justice for Palestinians. And surely, no one will remember those who fabricate charges and wage cheap propaganda against human beings, human rights, human dignity and freedom.

Ref: Counterpunch
Bouthaina Shaaban is Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency, and former Minister of Expatriates. She was the spokesperson for Syria and nominated for Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. She can be reached through nizar_kabibo@yahoo.com

Lieberman wrongly stirring scandal over Sweden article

Not far from the memorial square in the Yad Vashem compound in Jerusalem, a white vehicle is parked – part bus, part ambulance. It is one of 36 such vehicles that were used during the final weeks of World War II for the transfer of thousands of Nazi concentration camp prisoners from Germany to Sweden.

The official Web site of Yad Vashem states the convoy of vehicles rescued some 27,000 prisoners from Germany, including several thousand Jews, mostly women. The historian Yehuda Bauer says some 21,000 persons were rescued this way, and among them were 6,500 Jews.

The diplomatic scandal that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stirred over the article in the Swedish daily Aftonbladet is wrong since the government of a state that respects the freedom of the press is not responsible for what newspapers publish. That there was a demand for the Swedish government to “condemn” the article in question suggests Lieberman must still be thinking in Soviet terms.
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The comparison between Sweden’s refusal to condemn the article and its alleged silence during the Holocaust will not further Israel’s foreign policy any more than the racist ideology of Yisrael Beiteinu.

From a historic point of view, too, the minister’s claims are misplaced. Sweden’s King Gustav V demanded of the Hungarian ruler at the time, Admiral Miklos Horthy, that the Jews in Hungary not be expelled. What is much more important is that Sweden saved the lives of some 20,000 Jews.

Like other countries, Sweden failed to aid persecuted Jews in the 1930s, mostly in Germany and Austria, and only a few were allowed to settle in its territory. So it is possible to say the Swedes are partly responsible for the death of every Jewish refugee who was not allowed entry into Sweden and was later murdered by the Nazis. This is an accusation that can be directed at any country that turns away refugees who are fleeing death, including Israel.

During the war Sweden was neutral. Many Swedes made a living, and a few became wealthy, as a result of trade with Nazi Germany; they also provided items that contributed to the efforts of the Nazi war machine. It may well be the Swedes would have been able to look themselves in the mirror of history with greater pride had they decided at the time to join the war against the Nazis. Either way, Swedish neutrality enabled the various rescue organizations, including Jewish groups, to base themselves in Stockholm and work from there in support of the persecuted. The main rescue efforts were carried out with the acknowledgment of the Swedish government, and some even as a result of its initiatives.

In October 1943, Sweden permitted nearly 8,000 Jews to enter the country, and thus saved their lives. In the summer of 1944, the Swedish embassy in Budapest issued documents to some 4,500 Hungarian Jews. These documents served to save thousands of other Jews. The Swedish banker Raul Wallenberg, who later disappeared in a Soviet prison, is best known for this operation.

The White Bus Operation, during the last weeks of the war, was made possible in part as a result of the negotiations between the SS Commander Heinrich Himmler and the Swedish Count Folke Bernadotte, who was later murdered in Jerusalem because of the peace plan he had proposed.

Sweden is one of the few countries that has passed special legislation against anti-Semitism. In January 2000, it also hosted an important international conference that gave a major boost to the global struggle against Holocaust denial.

Ref: Haaretz

Meanwhile Israel screams “anti-semitism” and bullis an democratic country israeli banality and colonialism continues.  Plans for largest East Jerusalem settlement filed for approval! Soon, we will be able to read yet another account of israeli organ trafficking.

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Israeli organ trafficking: They plunder the organs of our sons

The report quotes Palestinian claims that young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israel Defense Forces, and their bodies returned to the families with missing organs.

“‘Our sons are used as involuntary organ donors,’ relatives of Khaled from Nablus said to me, as did the mother of Raed from Jenin as well as the uncles of Machmod and Nafes from Gaza, who all had disappeared for a few days and returned by night, dead and autopsied,” writes author Donald Boström in his report.

Boström’s article makes a link to the recent exposure of an alleged crime syndicate in New Jersey. The syndicate includes several American rabbis, and one Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who faces charges of conspiring to broker the sale of a human kidney for a transplant.
Boström also cites an incident of alleged organ snatching from 1992, during the time of the first Palestinian intifada. He says that the IDF seized a young man known for throwing stones at Israeli troops in the Nablus area, who was shot in the chest, both legs, and the stomach before being taken to a military helicopter which transported him to “a place unknown to his loved ones”.

Five nights later, Boström says, the young man’s body was returned, wrapped in green hospital sheets.

“The sharp sounds from the shovels were mixed with the occasional laughter from the soldiers who were joking with each other, waiting to go home. When Bilal was put into his grave, his chest was revealed and suddenly it became clear to the present what abuse he had been put through. Bilal was far from the only one who was buried cut-up from his stomach to his chin and the speculations about the reason why had already started,” he writes.

REf: Haaretz

Also read Israeli Organ Harvesting – The New “Blood Libel”? and Israeli Bodysnatchers – Story Puts Israeli Government in Frenzied Denial Mode