Tuesday, December 22, 2009

About those news stories concerning "stolen body parts"

The world Bash-Israel media are having a field day about reports that supposedly Israel has admitted that the pathologist who headed Israel's Forensics Institute had taken corneas and skin grafts without permission from bodies of dead people during the 1990s, echoing the charges made in that Swedish anti-Semitic newspaper.  Most of the organs were taken from israeli Jews, go the reports, but some from Palestinians.  Creating a medieval style blood libel portrayal of Jews as ghouls.
First "Israel" has admitted nothing of the sort.   Channel Two TV cited a Berkeley professor who claims that she was told by the man who ran the Forensics Institute back in the 1990s (Hiss) that some body organs were taken.  But she is the head of an advocacy group that fights legal and illegal trafficking in body organs, such as kidneys for transplanting, and has an agenda.
Second,  the fact that the AP and others ran the story does not make it true.  I do not have any special information on this, but the Israeli print and electronic media, incl leftist Haaretz, are all ignoring the story completely.  If there were substance to it, they would be all over it.   From what I gather, the Berkeley professor of Anthropology claims to have been told by Hiss many years ago that corneas and some skin grafts were taken without permission.  I am skeptical.  Israeli law is pretty clear about this.  I do not take the word of a Berkeley professor (I say that as someone who has been a Berkeley professor), esp when it is reprinted in Arab newspapers and web sites all over the world and used by the Swedish paper as a source.  Suppose it turns out that Hiss never told her anything of the sort.  The fact that Israel Channel Two cited the Berkeley professor means that THEY cited what SHE says that HISS said.  Whispering down the lane.
I suppose it is not impossible that something in the story is true.  After all, there have been numerous similar stories in other countries of illegal harvesting of women's eggs and other tissues by MDs who got caught, and yes of course it will be exploited by the anti-Semites.  But let us not feed the frenzy by conceding the truth of the story when the "evidence" so far at least is highly suspect and thin.
Meanwhile, have a look at this:
Events | Main

Obligatory Post About New Organ Harvesting Story That Provides "No Evidence" For Organ Harvesting Libel (UPDATED)


ORIGINAL - Elegant. This morning's breathless AP story all but promises to confirm the organ harvesting blood libel leveled against Israeli Jews last summer. That version had IDF soldiers deliberately killing Palestinians to harvest their organs. This headline screams "Israel harvested organs in '90s without consent." The first few paragraphs of this story all reference that original story. The Berkeley academic behind this story is quoted as saying she leaked the allegations because of that original story.

No wonder the original weasel headline has already morphed into the more explicit "Israel Admits Harvesting Palestinian Organs."

Except it turns out that - at best - the two stories bear only a passing resemblance to each other. One was about IDF soldiers deliberately killing Palestinians for their organs during Cast Lead last year. The other is about pathology work on dead Israelis and Palestinians done through 2000 with what doctors at first thought was family consent. Even this Berkeley Professor, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, admits the two stories are for all intents and purposes distinct. As for the implication in the newest headline about targeting Palestinians, again per Scheper-Hughes: not "by a long shot."

Of course the AP doesn't tell you any of that until the very end, which is where they inform readers that there's still "no evidence" for the Swedish blood libel.

The very end is also where you discover Scheper-Hughes's excuse for publishing what she she must have known would reinforce mouth-breathers quoting from the Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. She did it, you see, because of "the symbolism, you know... just in terms of its symbolic weight":

Complaints against the institute, where autopsies of dead bodies are performed, at the time of Hiss' dismissal came from relatives of Israeli soldiers and civilians as well as Palestinians. The bodies belonged to people who died from various causes, including diseases, accidents and Israeli-Palestinian violence, but there has been no evidence to back up the claim in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs. Angry Israeli officials called the report "anti-Semitic."

The academic, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said she decided to make the interview public in the wake of the Aftonbladet controversy... Scheper-Hughes said that while Palestinians were "by a long shot" not the only ones affected by the practice in the 1990s, she felt the interview must be made public now because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, (is) something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."

Mainstream media outlets will go out of their way to ignore the obvious religious motivations of the Fort Hood shooter. Wouldn't want to reinforce religious stereotypes! Academics will spin elaborate argumentative edifices - sliding from denial to rationalization to justification - to explain why even discussing domestic terrorism smacks of ulterior motives.

But an Israeli medical ethics scandal breaks that kind of sort of - but not really - lines up with ancient destructive anti-Jewish blood libels. Blood libels at the root of literally genocidal pogroms. Yet these same media outlets work with academics to hook the scandal into the libels anyway. Almost as if there are leftists sprinkled throughout academic and media institutions who are drawn to those kinds of tropes and figures in the context of Jews - but not in the clearer cases of Chinese and UK organ harvesting.

We shouldn't be polite about this. The feverish partisans who are twisting this story on listservs and forums are the equivalent of Stormfront bigots who troll the Internet for reports of black men raping white women. They're not concerned about the individual isolated crimes, nor are they particularly troubled as to the allegations' truth. They're in it for the thrill of seeing their ugliest stereotypes confirmed in the most vulgar ways. They want their hate validated in a kind of "I just knew those people were like that" moment. Nice of the Associated Press and the Berkeley academic establishment to lend them a hand.

I'll tell you one person who's relieved though. The author of that original Swedish blood libel, Donald Bostrom. He was going to have to "rethink" his smear but now he obviously doesn't have to. Not because this news actually absolves him of having revived an age-old anti-Jewish libel. Simply because now he can pretend that it did, along with everyone else who has personal reasons to ignore relevant details like "no it didn't."

UPDATE (12:55 PST) - And without missing a beat, seething anti-Israel nutjobs do what they do. "Israel Admits Stealing Palestinian Organs." They've even got pictures! They're not pictures of the actual allegations since those were incidents that happened over a decade ago, took place in medical facilities, etc. And they're certainly not evidence of the Swedish blood libel since that was just made up out of thin air. But they sure have a lot of blood in them! Blood-soaked visuals are pretty useful if you're going to short-circuit any kind of analysis in the interest of inciting visceral hate. So well done on their part (h/t: MR reader Aviv).

* Organ-Harvesting Zionists Trying To Stifle Brave Swedish Expose On IDF Atrocities [MR]
* Israel harvested organs in '90s without consent [MSNBC]
* Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs [Raw Story]
* Chris Matthews: We may never know if religion was a factor at Fort Hood [Hot Air]
* Fort Hood and the Academic Apologists [Stillwell / AT]
* Swedish "Jewish Organ Theft" Blood Libeler Apparently Uninterested In Actual Chinese Organ Theft [MR]
* Organ scandal background [BBC]
* Report: IDF organ harvesting reporter 'rethinking' story [Ha'aretz]

Related Mere Rhetoric Categories:
* Global Antisemitism
* Anti-Israel Journalism
* Israel

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