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Baroness Tonge: Anti-Semitism in the House of Lords

The then Liberal-Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell characterized such a statement as "anti-Semitic" and "unacceptable." Likewise, various members of the House of Lords, including the spiritual lord George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, noticed that Baroness Tonge was resorting to "a classic anti-Jewish conspiracy theory." But no other steps were taken against her then, a fact that certainly encouraged her to express even more radical views and finally to obliquely endorse the canard that Israel is trafficking in human organs for transplants.

The Iranian news agency Irna disseminated such defamatory reports for the first time in 2002. In fact, it claimed that the Israelis were not just engaging in an unsavory human organ trade, but actually murdering Palestinians, including children, in order to supply customers. Similar reports have been constantly circulated ever since then -- even by national newspapers like the Swedish Aftonbladet last year -- and have become commonplace tools for anti-Semitic propagandists. They help in countering one of Israel’s best assets in terms of global communication: its achievements in science, medicine, and humanitarian activities. Another advantage is that they dovetail with age-old and well-rooted anti-Jewish myths,  particularly the classic blood libel literature.

The facts are plain. There is such a thing as trafficking in human organs: from the very moment that transplants have developed into a safe medical practice, demand has been exceeding offer. There are Israeli traffickers: we know that because they have been tried, more often than not, by Israeli courts.

Israelis can be victims too. Levy Yitzhak Rosenbaum, a New Jersey U.S. citizen, was charged last year for running an American-Israeli human organ trafficking network. He acted as an intermediary, for a huge profit, between poor Jewish Israeli donors willing to sell an organ for a few thousand dollars and rich American customers prepared to pay more than one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

And what about Iran? The Islamic Republic is the only country in the world that legalized -- in 2006 -- the commercial trade of human organs.