Swedish reporter booed at Dimona conference
Journalist responsible for report claiming IDF harvests Palestinians' organs arrives in Dimona for communications conference, where he is met with shouts and boos from crowd. Swede explains: Allegations must be investigated. Yair Lapid to reporter: You're an anti-Semite and don't know it
The hoopla from Sweden spreads to Dimona. Swedish reporter Donald Bostrom, who published a report in the Aftonbladet newspaper accusing the Israel Defense Forces of stealing and trafficking in Palestinians' organs, was received Monday with boos and shouts during a panel he partook in at a media conference held in Dimona.
The Swedish reporter said that he understands the anger and explained that his infamous article only claimed that the Palestinian families' allegations need to be investigated. He also said that there was much misunderstanding surrounding the article. "The fact is that the families said what they said. That's a normal article," he said.
Interviewer Yair Lapid said, "It is a well-known phenomenon that some of the Palestinian propaganda is lies. It is the weapon of the weak."
Lapid claimed that he was not at all certain that the Swedish reporter had any basis for the article.
Bostrom responded, "If you are as journalist, you always interview, ask questions, and get answers. Organ trafficking is a global problem." He said that before h wrote the article, he invested a lot of time researching and spending time in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where he said he interviewed many families off of list given to him. Bostrom said that he chose to publish the story of one of the families, whom he says he interviewed for quite some time and received pictures of their son's corpse.
Lapid shot back, "To say this without a shred of evidence, that Israel possibly harvested organs from Palestinians who disappeared, in other words, whom we kidnapped, killed, and robbed their organs, is a degrading and monstrous idea."
In response, Bostrom said that he understands why people are angry, saying that everyone lies while at war. He said that it is difficult for reporters to distinguish between what is correct and what is a lie. "If it were just one family, fine. But there were many families. Mothers have a right to know what happened to their sons," claimed Bostrom
Crowd protests (Photo: Herzel Yosef)
Bostrom said that everyone would benefit from an investigation into the issue, saying no one had anything to lose. "If it is possible to give an answer to a Palestinian mother that nothing happened to her son, this must be done," Bostrom asserted.
Bostrom claimed that he never said that the IDF track down Palestinians with the express purpose of harvesting organs. "This is a terrible lie," he said.
'Crossing the line'
Lapid concluded, "You are an anti-Semite because you are prepared to believe that there is a possibility that the government and the authorities would take part in such a monstrous thing. The only thing I can say in your favor is that you don't know you're an anti-Semite."
Bostrom said in response, "If we walk in the streets of Stockholm and ask passersby about Israel, the vast majority will respond that they support its right to exist in peace. However, we also have a tradition of criticism, and we will criticize Israel though we support your country."
Some of the people sitting in the audience did not accept the Swede's explanations. They called the Swedish reporter a "liar," and waved banners with "Israel is stronger than anti-Semitism" written on them.
Nor did Bostrom receive a warm welcome when he arrived the night between Saturday and Sunday at Ben Gurion Airport. Dozens of protesters from the Beitar youth movement met him there with shouts.
Negev and Galilee Development Minister Silvan Shalom cited Bostrom's participation in the conference as the reason for cancelling his plans to attend the conference that were announced on Saturday. Shalom also withdrew his ministry's financial contribution to the event.
"I am not willing to be a partner in a conference that gives a platform to an enemy of Israel such as Bostrom," explained Minister Shalom. "I will not let the State of Israel fund a conference that provides a platform for such a person."
Minister Shalom emphasized further that he would not contribute to a conference attended by "a person who wove a blood libel against the State of Israel and its soldiers. This is crossing a line."