This is a guest post from AKUS
A new variation on an old age tactic of antisemites is now surfacing. I refer, of course, to the demand that Israel be required to form commissions of inquiry to refute any accusation, no matter how vile and unfounded that is hurled against it. Similar to the well-known accusation: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” thrown at someone not even married, Israel now is being asked to clear its name for any number of deeds it never committed.
We have four recent examples to choose from, but, in the spirit of painting Israel as badly as possible, why choose at all? Three at least have become part of the accepted anti-Israel dialog, and the Tonge affair fits right in:
1. The Goldstone report. “Israelis kill Palestinian civilians a great deal”.
This report, in the final analysis, created a long string of accusations against the IDF’s conduct during the Cast Lead campaign which it could not justify except by referring to reports from Hamas and its selected “civilians”. The idea that many of these “civilians” had moments earlier been dressed in Hamas uniforms was given no credence, nor that many were clearly used by Hamas as human shields.
In one well known case, the fact that “policemen” killed in the initial airstrike were in fact members of the various alphabet soup terrorist organizations operating under Hamas’ umbrella has been ignored. This despite the fact that Israel, bowing to pressure, has actually provided a detailed list showing the names of the many of the “policemen” and specific details of the organizations they belong to. You can find an excellent review here:
Goldstone’s solution to the dilemma of lack of substantive evidence was the aforementioned trick – demand that Israel investigate itself to prove that things that never happened, never happened.
2. The Aftonbladet report. “Israelis harvest Palestinians’ organ a great deal”
This case is so well known that little more needs to be added. A Swedish newspaper published a sensational report that Israel was “harvesting Palestinian’s organs” based on a report of a discussion with a Palestinian family, the content of which was later disputed by the Palestinian family itself. An exhaustive study by Mikael Tossavainen, The Aftonbladet Organ-Trafficking Accusations against Israel: A Case Study provides all the detail required, including the following – note that an accusation that would have been dismissed out of hand had it been launched at any other country generated follow-ups, analysis, and rebuttals:
On 17 August 2009, the culture section of Aftonbladet published an article by Donald Boström under the headline “Våra söner plundras på sina organ” (“Our Sons Are Plundered of Their Organs”)
Andrea Levin of the media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) enumerated the many factual errors, omissions, and false linkages that mar Boström’s article. …
Furthermore, Boström claimed that Ghanem’s family had accused Israel of having robbed him of his organs and that this was part of a larger trend. However, Levin pointed out that when Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh visited the Ghanem family in August 2009 following the publication of Boström’s article, the family denied having made any such allegations to the Swedish reporter.
Once again, the same old trick was ultimately employed – Boström denied actually making the claim, but, in the interests of “fairness”, it was suggested that Israel launch an inquiry to see if what never happened – never happened.
3. The Michael White comment: “In Israel they murder each other a great deal”
Listen to Michael White, “assistant editor and has been writing for the Guardian for over 30 years” according to the Guardian, at 3:34 minutes in to this video clip: “in Israel they murder each other a great deal” in what was actually a discussion about the attack on Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, leading to praise for Britain’s efforts in Northern Ireland. His comment was a throwaway line about something that White obviously thinks everyone believes about Israel. Just as bad is the BBC interviewer mmm-hmm-ing in approval – “of course they do – everyone knows that!” It has become part of the standard set of beliefs among some in the media.
All that was lacking was a demand for an Israeli commission set up to disprove that in Israel they do not, in fact, murder each other a great deal – in fact, the number of Moslems by fellow Moslems, in internecine wars and now going on daily via suicide bombings, dwarfs the number killed by Israel.
Well, everyone knows that in England they beat their wives a great deal. Mmm-hmm.
4. Now we have the latest in this series – the Baroness Tonge affair. “The Israelis in Haiti should prove that they do not harvest organs a great deal”
British Baroness Tonge is the patron of a paper based in Gaza called the Palestinian Telegraph. It is rather a strange matter in itself, one might think, even without the current scandal, for an Arab newspaper to have a British Peeress as a patron. The paper published an article titled “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs,” written by a rabidly anti-Zionist Boston blogger named Stephen Lendman (probably Jewish though he does not appear to claim to be) who keeps company with the likes of virulently anti-Israeli antiwar protester Cindy Sheehan at a home for conspiracy nuts, “Global Research“. His article is also now available on multiple sites on the blogosphere elsewhere – e.g. “The People’s Voice” and The Baltimore Chronicle that appear to specialize in right wing and anti-Israeli conspiracy theories – and the Internet will ensure that it will circulate endlessly as source material for the Israel-bashers and antisemites who feed on this sort of thing.
Lendman’s article cites the infamous video posted on YouTube by an American named T. West from a group called AfriSynergy Productions and gleefully picked up by Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV, among others. His article creates connections to any and all issues dealing with organ transplants where Jews and Israelis are involved. The gist of the article is the statement from Al-Manar intended to cast doubt in the intentions of Israel in helping the Haitians after the tragedy of their earthquake:
“The video presents something to think about while exploiting the horrible tragedy that has befallen Haiti where Israeli occupation soldiers are engaged in organ trafficking.”
Lendman describes himself as, among other things, “writing on a broad range of vital topics ranging from war and peace; social, economic and political equity for all; and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world like the long-suffering people of Haiti and the Palestinians”. In fact, he probably supports justice for anybody and everybody except the Jews of Israel, and has a long page on his blog headed “Jews Against Zionism”.
Given Lendman’s orientation, it is not surprising that Baroness Tonge, who appears to have very similar opinions based on her outbursts against Israel, and the paper she supports found themselves happily in bed with each other. Clearly without giving it much thought, since at bottom she has absorbed the idea of Israel guilty until it proves itself innocent, she followed the well-trodden path of suggesting that Israel clear itself of an accusation made with no basis, and, in fact, one which Israel has no possible way of disputing:
”To prevent allegations such as these – which have already been posted on You Tube – going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.”
How on earth does one do this? By not showing the organs that were never extracted in the heat and humidity of far-off Haiti in the midst of the turmoil and aftershocks of the earthquake?
The reality is that Israel has enormous experience in dealing with tragedies like this gained, ironically, from dealing with the suicide attacks launched against Israel from Gaza and the West Bank – from the sort of people with whom Baroness Tonge associates herself.
Now that she is apologizing for her remark, she has realized too late – or is pretending to understand – that there are actually some who do not believe, without needing proof, that Israel might have flown two jumbo jets carrying a fully equipped field hospital to Haiti for the purpose of organ harvesting. But it has become so normative for this sort of demand to be made of Israel that it never occurred to Baroness Tonge that she was demanding the impossible.
For some, it appears, accusations hurled by cranks, conspiracy theorists, antisemites and Israel bashers such as T. West on YouTube and Lendman in the Palestinian Telegraph are enough to provide credence. And therefore, once again, we have the same old trick, trotted out by a British Peeress without a moment’s thought:
“Israel should launch an inquiry to see if what never happened in Haiti – never happened”.