Stockholm Jewish leader: Israel caused this mess
Lena Posner tells Ynet article accusing IDF soldiers of harvesting Palestinians' organs was buried in back pages of Swedish tabloid, before angry Israeli response inflamed situation. 'Anti-Semitism here is not so bad, and bringing up the Holocaust every time is definitely unhelpful to us'
The Israeli government declared Sunday morning that it expects the Swedish government to officially condemn the newspaper report which accused Israel Defense Forces of harvesting Palestinians' organs.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "We do not want the Swedish government to apologize, we want it to issue a condemnation." Netanyahu called the accusations "outrageous" and equated them to blood libels.
However, leaders of the Jewish community in Sweden believe that Israeli elements are responsible for inflaming the situation.
According to Lena Posner, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm and president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, "Israel caused all this mess."
Posner told Ynet, "The article was published here on Monday, but no one paid any attention to it. It wasn't a news report and was buried in the back pages of a tabloid. The writer is known to many of us as anti-Israel, and so it the entire paper. This is why no one took it seriously – until Israel got involved."
It appears that the affair has turned the Aftonbladet reporter, Donald Boström, into the star of news broadcasts. How did he get the great "scoop" on the Palestinian organ theft?
"He met a Palestinian youth in 1992 and based an article on an interview with him, because he wanted 15 minutes of fame for himself," said Posner. "Now he is extorting this whole thing to the very end. He is a no-good, and has now become a famous person appearing on prime-time TV and radio every day. If the Israeli elements had avoided responding like they did, no one would have noticed and it would have never become part of the agenda. This is why we are so agitated here."
'Matter blown out of proportions'
On Thursday, when the affair appeared to be fading, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman released a statement comparing the Swedish government's silence over the article to its conduct during the Holocaust.
"He and others have become experts on Sweden, claiming that this is an anti-Semitic country," said Posner. "With all due respect, they are not experts and are completely wrong. They may have an interest, but we are the ones living here with this situation. It's not so bad. The atmosphere is indeed anti-Israel, but many countries criticize Israel's activity. Bringing up the Holocaust every time is definitely unhelpful to us."
Due to Israel's handling of the affair, Posner added, the focus of the discourse has shifted away from criticizing Israel's conduct in Gaza to defending freedom of expression.
"What is happening now is that the issue is no longer the organs, but whether the prime minister the prime minister and Lieberman are even entitled to intervene in the freedom of expression. In Sweden, like in Israel, freedom of expression is sacred. Everyone in Sweden cannot understand how Israel dares to interfere."
Anders Carlberg, head of Gothenburg's Jewish community, agrees that the Israeli demand that the Swedish government intervene in the publication was unhelpful.
"News stands are now full of articles on freedom of expression following this affair," he said. "In most countries of the Western world, issues dealing with freedom of expression are above politics, and therefore, I don't think Israel's demand for a condemnation will be answered. I understand Jerusalem's response, but the matter has definitely been blown out of proportions."