Why the Israeli Organ-Harvesting Story Is Probably False
A strange story has broken out in Sweden and Israel, with an article in Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper, by a journalist named Donald Boström.
According to The Times, Boström’s article “accuses the Israeli Army of harvesting organs from Palestinians wounded or killed by soldiers.” This claim is linked to the charges of black-market organ trafficking by Levy-Izhak Rosenbaum, one of the flock of characters recently arrested in a corruption and money-laundering racket that revolved around New Jersey politicians.
The Israeli government has struck back, claiming that Boström’s article is false, outrageous, and, in the words of Benjamin Netanyahu, a “blood libel,” the sort of malicious rumor that has led to the persecution of Jews for centuries.
The Times article asserts that Boström’s article “was based on accusations Mr. Bostrom heard from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in the 1990’s, and which he published in a book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2001.”
That would certainly give one pause as to the veracity of the charge. This isn’t to say that all rumors are untrue, but there is perhaps no easier trap for a journalist to fall into than to listen to the harshest accusations of one group of people that is at war with another.
But there is probably a better reason to discount the accusation.
Al Roth, the Harvard economist whose work on matched-pair organ donations has started to transform the organ-transplantation scenario, told me he found the accusation unbelievable because of the logistics of organ harvesting itself. “Organs don’t last very long and have to be matched rather particularly,” he said, “so it would be hard to take them on spec for an international market. So I think black market organs must mostly be from live donors. Live donors can take blood tests well in advance and travel to where the patient is. Deceased organs have to be put on ice, and the clock starts ticking immediately and fast.”
Roth also points to a response of sorts on Ynet, a website affiliated with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharanot. It’s by Uria Asor, and is headlined “Special Report: Sweden’s Dirty Secret” :
[T]hose in the know and lox connoisseurs have been claiming that the Swedish gravad lax tastes differently than the Norwegian, Finnish, and Danish variety. ‘The Swedish variety contains some sort of slight sourness,’ says Danish Chef Richard Muller Holstrum. ‘I was never able to detect its source.’
However, Ynet’s special investigative report has revealed, for the first time, what may be the secret ingredient in Sweden’s gravad lax. The horrifying findings indicate that the source is fungus removed from the feet of innocent Norwegian fishermen.
Those who dislike Israel for whatever reason should at least acknowledge that, between parody and poetry, its journalism is pretty interesting.