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Monday, August 24, 2009

Just when you thought it couldn't get any better

Update on yesterday's rant post :

So basically up until yesterday the Swedish paper that published the blood libel saying that IDF soldiers were harvesting organs from dead Palestinians were defending their claim. 

However, according to a report published today:

He [The editor of the Swedish Daily] described himself as "a responsible editor who gave the green light to an article because it raises a few questions." He did note, however, that the paper had no evidence that such horrific practices were being carried out.

On Sunday, Aftonbladet published a follow-up article, defending the offending report written by freelance journalist Donald Bostrom. The second article maintained that the organ-harvesting matter "should be investigated, either to stop the relentless Palestinian rumors, or, if the rumors prove to be true, stop the trade in body parts." 

Now, I didn't go to journalism school or anything, but isn't it sort of against all the rules to publish accusations of wrongdoing without having some evidence to support the claim?  I mean seriously, isn't that the textbook definition of libel???  Can a newspaper really print anything they want with the goal of "raising a few questions" and then defend the practice by saying that their goal was to put a stop to the very rumors they are spreading... essentially placing the burden of proof on those they have smeared?

Someone please tell me why our Prime Minister hasn't summoned the Swedish Ambassador to explain his government's support of this anti-Semitic blood libel?  This is not protected journalism.  It is hate speech!

Afterthought:  There is an excellent discussion of the issues over at this group blog published by Pro-Israel bloggers in the SF Bay Area.

Posted by David Bogner on August 24, 2009 | Permalink


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"Can a newspaper really print anything they want with the goal of "raising a few questions" and then defend the practice by saying that their goal was to put a stop to the very rumors they are spreading... essentially placing the burden of proof on those they have smeared?"

The answer being that "yes" they can...as long as it's on the Opinion/Editorial page, clearly headlined as so. Anything masquerading as actual news, is certainly libel. No questions asked.

Posted by: beershevaboheme6 | Aug 24, 2009 5:35:05 PM

The time to hold protests is if and when the Swedish FM comes to Israel.This only one more example of using what a few people may or may not be doing to smear an entire country and people. That the story is false matters little. To be able to smear is the important thing.

Posted by: ED | Aug 24, 2009 5:59:00 PM

I don't think that "when there's smoke there's fire" holds up in libel court, except when it comes to Jews.
And what happened to Bibi? His body was taken over by the Ehud Barak body-snatchers. They switched his brain with a copy of Barak's. It sure makes more sense than the Swedish article.

Posted by: Batya from Shiloh | Aug 24, 2009 6:21:28 PM

has to do with cajones. as long as Israel was a strong force in the region the antisemitism thing was hidden away. now there isn't even a hint of anything below the waist.

Posted by: dave | Aug 24, 2009 6:50:48 PM

Two rants on a relatively new group blog about this subject:

Palestinian organs and Jan Helin, Swedish purveyor of rotten herring
By Fuzpin

Palestinian organs - a Swedish leftwing obscenity
By MacTav

And yes, I am part of the group writing that blog.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Aug 24, 2009 11:40:59 PM

I don't know about Swedish media law, but in the States, when writing about public figures (and the military, as a government body, is a public figure), one would lose a libel suit only if the plaintiff (ie the IDF) proved that the paper had acted with "actual malice," which is interpreted as meaning either that the paper KNEW it was false, or acted with "reckless disregard" to whether it is true.

The paper does not have to get PROOF that the allegations are true. They only have to act without malice or reckless disregard. That's the law. In ideal practices, a good paper will work hard to uncover as much evidence as possible before publishing. In this case, that would mean talking to as many Palestinians as possible, including doctors, and, if possible, working their contacts within the IDF.

In the absence of other information, allegations by Palestinians themselves -- not just one, but many, especially if they are medical personnel or people who claim to have personally witnessed the organ harvesting -- would constitute enough evidence that the allegations could be published without committing libel.

Whether YOU believe those Palestinians is another question. But the paper can go forward and say that the IDF is ALLEGED to have committed this crime. They should, if they are a good paper, include a statement by the IDF in response.

If it's on the Opinion page it gives the paper a LITTLE more leeway, but not much. It's one thing to say "The IDF is immoral" (clearly opinion and therefore not libel) vs. "IDF soldiers stole organs" which is a matter of fact/not fact, not opinion.

Anyway, this all is in American law. I have no idea what passes for truth in Sweden.

Posted by: Sarah B. | Aug 25, 2009 3:39:35 AM

Similarly to the Iran election protest wave on Twitter and the brainless retweeting of wrong "facts" (i.e. when there were "reports" of helis spraying acid onto the demonstrators in Iran)(which wasn't acid, but who cared anyways, right), all the benevolent good-doers and good-causers are of course now re-tweeting unconfirmed bc like mad.

I am just mentioning it because this side of the new media is not only very scary, in terms of how propaganda machinery, but it is disappointing to see how many people are actually willing to give up their brains for the sake of being among the first sensationalist-crazy "netporters" to retweet breaking "news". "News" from far away places that they very probably have never been to, never lived in, whose language they certainly don't speak, and whose culture, history and politics they barely have a clue of.

I am disgusted, to say the least. Because if you asked any of these retweeters, I am sure they'd tell you that they can't believe how Germany and the rest of Europe could so easily fall for nazi propaganda machinery and become co-operating, brainless idiots. Mirror, mirror on the wall.

Posted by: a. | Aug 25, 2009 1:00:41 PM

"Swedish tabloid reported for racial agitation"
Swedish tabloid newspaper Aftonbladet has been reported to the Chancellor of Justice (JK) after publishing an article forwarding claims about the alleged organ harvesting of dead Palestinians by Israeli defence forces.
The Chancellor of Justice is a government official charged with representing the Swedish government in various legal matters as the government's ombudsman.
The Chancellor, currently Göran Lambertz, is appointed by the government and is the only prosecutor with the power to take legal action in cases concerning freedom of speech and the press.
The charge of racial agitation (hets mot folkgrupp) is in Swedish law defined as a crime involving the public dissemination of statements which threaten or express contempt for one or more identified ethnic groups.

Wondering if this is good news?

Posted by: Ilana-Davita | Aug 25, 2009 1:05:46 PM

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