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Blood Libel and ‘Peace’ — A Bad Middle Eastern Mix

Obama pushes Netanyahu for more concessions while the Arab media slanders Israelis as organ thieves.

by
P. David Hornik

Bio

September 17, 2009 - 12:30 am

Once again, the usual discord. On the one hand, U.S. envoy George Mitchell is in Israel to try — once again — to drum up Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that in President Obama’s vision are supposed to blossom, and in a rather short time, into an overall Arab-Israeli peace. On the other hand, the latest hit in the region is Jews as murderous organ harvesters.

A story first offered by Algeria’s al-Khabar daily — and now spreading like wildfire, the Jerusalem Post reports, in “the anti-Semitic blogosphere and many Arab and Muslim media outlets,” notably including Iran’s official Press TV agency — claims that:

Bands of Moroccans and Algerians have … been roaming the streets of Algeria’s cities kidnapping young children, who are then transported across the border into Morocco. From the Moroccan city of Oujda, the children are then purportedly sold to Israelis and American Jews, who then harvest their organs for sale in Israel and the United States. The organs are said to fetch anywhere from $20,000 to $100,000.

Although the al-Khabar story (Google something like “Algeria Morocco organs Jews” to see how popular it is) is reticent on the ultimate fate of the alleged kidnapped children, a similar report a month ago in Sweden’s Aftonbladet offered gruesome details, claiming that during a 1992 Israeli “campaign aimed at having the … public register for postmortal organ donation … 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.”

In this now-famous case, the Israeli government protested vigorously to the Swedish authorities — who refused even to publicly criticize the article and its author, Donald Boström. Meaning that if even “enlightened” Sweden regards this latest variant of the archetypal anti-Jewish blood libel as a valid point of view, worthy of wide dissemination in a large daily like Aftonbladet, its growing currency in Arab and Muslim media is hardly surprising.

Indeed, both the Aftonbladet and al-Khabar reports make much of the actual case of Rabbi Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn, arrested in July on charges of, as the New York Times put it, “enticing vulnerable people to give up a kidney for $10,000 and then selling the organ for $160,000.” In the Swedish or Algerian or Iranian fever swamps, this alleged corruption gets easily transmogrified into grisly Israeli and Jewish murder-for-profit activities.

But if in the Western world — not to belittle virulent European anti-Israelism and, to a lesser extent, anti-Semitism — an article like Boström’s in a mainstream paper is still unusual, the same cannot be said for the Arab and Muslim world. Israel National News reports that:

Muslim governments are taking advantage of the Ramadan TV season to broadcast anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda, some of it reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda that preceded the Holocaust. … Programs about Israel and the Jewish people are considered top rating draws among Arab media, and each year government-controlled TV stations across the Middle East broadcast programs themed around the supposed treachery committed by Israel or the Jewish people against the Muslims and the world in general.

Offerings include, for instance, a Syrian-produced series called al-Shatat, being shown in Iran this year, that purports to depict the perennial Jewish effort to take over the globe. In it Jewish characters make statements such as “we have been granted an unparalleled honor — to dominate the world, by means of capital, knowledge, politics, by means of killing, or any other ploy.”

The thirty-episode al-Shatat has even been carried in Jordan, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. And as for Israel’s other official peace partner, Egypt, “no fewer than five new series being broadcast on Egyptian TV this year revolve around Israel and the Jews” — and none of them, it goes without saying, laudatory.

Notice this discord, then, and talk about it — relentless diplomatic activity aimed at “peace,” with the pressure centering overwhelmingly on Israel, in an environment of crude hatred — and you’re called “right-wing.” But, however one wants to call it, the discord exists and is glaring.

And it goes beyond discord to something worse — betrayal. Betrayal, that is, of some of the most fundamental values espoused by some of the very people — who include, no doubt, a good many dovish Israelis and Jews — who most fervently push for Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli “peace” while convincing themselves that the anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish bigotry that is, lamentably, routine in the Arab world is somehow tangential or can be easily overcome despite being rooted in lifetimes of indoctrination.

Publicly express such bigotry — against Jews or others — in the Western world (with exceptions like Aftonbladet) and your career can be ruined. It’s considered shocking, and rightly so. But turn to the Middle East and the screws get turned on the democracy, Israel, which once again is supposed to come up with some package of concessions — the latest is “settlement freeze” — that can conciliate the purveyors of myths of organ-harvesting and the like.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the new book Choosing Life in Israel. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/
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