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Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Blood Libel updated

One of the more disturbing recent instances of anti-Semitism of the Left is a Swedish newspaper article accusing Israeli soldiers of 'harvesting' organs from Palestinians. This is not from an obscure neo-Nazi rag: it's Sweden's top-circulation paper, Social Democratic in its politics and 50.1% owned by the country's trade union confederation. Details are at Engage, and if you want to read the article the Google translator doesn't mangle it excessively. Harry's Place also has some worthwhile thoughts.

You'll be convinced if you're disposed to take seriously every piece of paranoid hearsay circulating in the Occupied Territories and to believe the worst about Jews - oops, I mean Zionists, of course. If, that is, you're a not untypical member of the Guardian-reading, Fairtrade coffee-drinking classes for whom Sweden is the closest thing to Nirvana.

Challenged to provide hard evidence, the writer has backed off. But the paper's editor seems to feel no urge to publish a retraction. On the contrary. Following high-level protests from Israel, he's chosen instead to play the freedom of speech card. And since he is not an anti-Semite, there is no need even to discuss the charge that he has published something anti-Semitic. It's not anti-Semitic, you see, to feel that Israel doesn't and shouldn't have a good name to lose. So all those Fairtrade coffee-drinkers are in the clear.

That may sound terribly bitter. But based on my own experience of Fairtrade coffee-drinkers (of whom, by the way, I am one) at prayer, I don't think it's overstating the case. I'm forcibly reminded of what I wrote here about the resurrection of another mediaeval prejudice. The following, directed against an activist of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, could just as well be applied to Donald Boström and the editor of Aftonbladet:

'I've mapped out a No Man's Land bounded on the one side by a world in which real dead chickens are fished out of a real village well, and extremism and hatred provoke real people on both sides of a bitter conflict into committing real evil deeds, but bounded on the other side by the ravings of pure racist paranoia. In this wilderness our Accompanier and many others like him seem to have no fence to stop them from drifting towards the wrong side, and they show all too little awareness of the need to build one.'

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