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Page last updated at 14:11 GMT, Monday, 24 August 2009 15:11 UK

Israeli and Swedish press on organ row

Newspapers in Israel and Sweden share some views on the row caused by a Swedish newspaper article that claimed Israeli troops killed Palestinians for organs.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the Swedish government to condemn Sweden's top-selling daily newspaper Aftonbladet over the claims, but Sweden has refused to condemn the article, citing freedom of expression.

Commentators in both countries feel reactions by both sides have exacerbated the situation, although one Israeli paper says this is because similar stories have historically had serious consequences. In Sweden Aftonbladet itself says Israel reacted as it did as it currently needs a new external enemy for foreign policy reasons.

ISRAELI PRESS

NAHUM BARNEA IN YEDIOT AHARONOT

"The story... is certainly a contemptible story - the press at its worse. Yet the campaign Israel's government is conducting against Sweden following publication is no less untenable. This is a base, cynical campaign that proves that the foreign minister in Netanyahu's government thinks only of internal needs - his internal needs."

LIRAN LOTKER IN CENTRIST MA'ARIV

"Like the uncompromising demand for an apology from the Swedish government, the Israeli attack on the newspaper was like a gift from heaven for Aftonbladet that turned the story into 'struggle for freedom of the press in Sweden'... A simple, direct reaction by the Foreign Ministry... would have caused the story to disappear as early as the following day instead of becoming a diplomatic crisis from which no side gains."

EDITORIAL IN THE JERUSALEM POST

"If Israelis have overreacted to this mendacious twaddle, it's because anti-Semitic blood libels have had deadly consequences for our people ever since Greek pagans first accused ancient Jews of kidnapping foreigners for sacrificial purposes... Had the Swedish Foreign Ministry backed the condemnation of Bostrom's article by Sweden's ambassador in Tel Aviv, the matter would have ended there."

DAVID A FRANKEL IN YEDIOT AHARONOT

"The thunderous silence of the Swedish government... is not surprising. It was Sweden that initiated the purity of race theory and established the National Institute for the Biology of Race in Uppsala... It was in Sweden that laws were enacted in 1934 and 1941 obligating sterilisation of 'inferior' people and those who are a burden on society."

SWEDISH PRESS

HELLE KLEIN IN AFTONBLADET

"The Israeli reactions to Aftonbladet's article about illegal trading in organs break records for exaggeration... The harsh tones from the Israeli side do not benefit the State of Israel... How should the Israeli government's behaviour be understood? It's about realpolitic... The Israeli government is one of the most extremely right-wing in the country's history and Foreign Minister Lieberman has had a cool reception in both the USA and the EU... Lieberman and Netanyahu need an external enemy to blame to unite domestic opinion... and Aftonbladet's article was a chance for the Israeli government to demonstrate its ability to act against alleged anti-Semitism."

HENRIK BREDBERG IN SYDSVENSKA DAGBLADET

"Donald Bostrom publicised a variant of an anti-Semitic classic, the Jew who abducts children and steals their blood... The regrettable aspects just seem to grow and grow... the Israeli government rages and speaks of an article which 'shames Swedish democracy and the entire Swedish press'. Hardly. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are part of democracy... Dare to believe in freedom of the press and open debate. Even when individual editors make stupid and tasteless decisions." [20]

EDITORIAL IN GOTEBORGS-POSTEN

"The Foreign Ministry has made it clear that Swedish freedom of the press applies. Good. Aftonbladet should not be given the unwarranted glory of martyrdom... Publication seems to represent an obvious lack of judgment. Unfortunately the lack of judgment did not stop there. The Swedish ambassador in Tel Aviv... attacked the article and thereby created the impression that having views about or intervening in individual publications should be a task for the government and its representatives." [22]

Source: as listed in English 24 Aug 09

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.



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