This month marks the birth date of perhaps the greatest Swede who ever lived. Raoul Wallenberg. He helped save 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Nazis before being swallowed up by Stalin's gulags. Jews consider Wallenberg's name a blessing, and young Swedes should be inspired by his peerless courage and compassion.
Yet instead of celebrating this national hero, now comes from Sweden's largest newspaper, Aftonbladet, a revival of the age-old blood libel against the Jews that would have caused Wallenberg to lead a national protest. "They plunder the organs of our sons," reads the quote from a Palestinian that serves as the headline across a double spread in the Swedish equivalent of "The Style Section" of the New York Times or the Washington Post.
Reporter Donald Boström charges that, since the first Intifada in the early 1990s, the Israeli Army has been kidnapping and murdering Palestinian young men "who disappeared for a few days and returned by night, dead and autopsied." It's important to note that these outlandish charges did not appear out of thin air. They are not only a staple of Palestinian hate mythology, but extend to Iran where a few years ago Sahar, the government TV channel, aired a weekly drama, titled "Zahra's Blue Eyes," which portrayed "Zionist" doctors kidnapping little Palestinian children to harvest their organs.
Boström's major contribution is not just to popularize this anti-Semitic libel in Scandinavia but to update it by accusing New Jersey rabbis, arrested for money laundering, as somehow involved with Israeli soldiers in an international Jewish organ harvesting ring - accusations that make The Protocols of the Elders of Zion seem tame by comparison. If there were an Ignoble Prize for the world's most odious anti-Semitic journalist, Boström would be this year's winner.
The truth is that Iran's vicious regime is guilty of some of the very crimes it accuses Israel of. Hence, while the Israelis are alleged to be returning mutilated corpses to their Palestinian families for burial, Tehran's jailers are actually returning the bloodied corpses of young protesters tortured to death in prison to Iranian families - and charging them for the coffins!
'Israel the Jew among nations'The real scandal is not the Israeli military's nonexistent harvest of Palestinian organs, but the ideology of extremists like Hamas' Khalid Mashaal. Their culture of death is transforming societies across the Middle East into an assembly line turning young people into suicide bombers and "human shields" in the name of martyrdom "Child martyrs" are harvested and deployed against Israelis, Westerners, and increasingly, other Muslims.
The international seal of approval for open season on Israel came at the UN Anti-Racism Conference in Durban South Africa in 2001 that was hijacked by Arab and Muslim countries and their international NGO allies. Durban I revived 1975 UN Resolution equating "Zionism with racism" in order to delegitimize Israel as a pariah state. Since then, Israel, as Alan Dershowitz has said, became "the Jew among nations."
Now an influential Scandinavian newspaper has shamefully become the conduit for Mideast ideological exports with roots in horrific medieval accusations that Jews harvested non-Jewish children for their blood. Like a patient with a compromised immune system, Scandinavian countries too often are failing to resist the plague of classic Jew hatred.
Norway's government, with the royal family's blessing, is currently rehabilitating with a national celebration and museum in his honor Knut Hamsen, the Hitler groupie who in 1943 gave his Nobel Prize to Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels. While Sweden, where a few years ago a third of young people doubted there was a Holocaust, has enabled Moroccan expatriate Ahmed Rami - whose Radio Islam is a 22-language flagship of Holocaust denial, Jew-hatred, and demonization of Israel - to poison the well of non-Muslim as well as Muslim public opinion.
Far from being "free speech in action," Sweden's anti-Israel hatred is too often subsidized by the government. A recent report by the respected NGO Monitor shows that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Diakonia, the multi-national NGO Development Center (NDC), and the Swedish Mission Council (SMR) fund 20 major NGOs that "routinely accuse Israel of 'genocide', 'ethnic cleansing', and 'apartheid', and some compare Israeli military and political officials to Nazis." As Professor Gerald Steinberg puts it, "The path from this demonization to the blood libels of Aftonbladet is short and direct."
Kudos to the few Swedish voices who have spoken out fiercely against the blood libel promoted by Aftonbladet. The Swedish Foreign Ministry initially "distanced" itself from the libel - but then backed away when criticized by the pro-Palestinian Swedish Left. Raoul Wallenberg would be ashamed by the absence of outrage from Sweden's political elite and vaunted human rights group. Maybe the memory of his courage and humanity will inspire the silent Swedish majority and decent people everywhere to vanquish the newest toxic incarnation of the world's oldest hatred.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Dr. Harold Brickman, a historian, is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center