Legitimizing antisemitism: Guardian provides platform to Alison Wier, blood libel promoter

CiF published a commentary by Andy Newman yesterday, “Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left“, which took aim at the extreme antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon, as well as Alison Weir, an extreme anti-Israel activist who penned an essay for CounterPunch in 2009 lending support to the defamation against Israel regarding the trafficking of Palestinian organs.  

Newman’s piece, as we noted in post yesterday, elicited a high volume of antisemitic reader comments, several explicitly supporting the organ trafficking story.

Shamefully, the Guardian provided Weir a forum yesterday by publishing her letter, Antisemitism and the left – some facts, Sept. 26.

Weir, defending her promotion of the lie that Israelis harvest Palestinian organs from, and charges by Newman that her thesis is devoid of any evidence, writes, on the pages of the Guardian:

I quoted a speech on international organ trafficking by Dr Nancy Scheper-Hughes – Chancellor’s professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the world’s foremost expert on organ trafficking – in which she stated: “Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.” [emphasis mine]

Weir further responded to Newman’s argument that her CounterPunch essay legitimized the medieval antisemitic blood libel against Jews.

(The blood libel, the charge that Jews ritually murdered gentiles and used their blood to cast spells, was a mainstay of medieval European anti-Semitism. In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions.)

Writes Weir:

I am happy to point Mr Newman to a previous lengthy article I wrote on Israeli organ trafficking in which, near the end, there is a very short section in which I quote Israeli media reports that a prominent Israeli professor of medieval Jewish history had published a book on this subject.

So, briefly, who is Weir?

No mere anti-Israel activist, Weir, according to the Anti-Defamation League, advances classic Zionist conspiracy theories, such as the argument that the Israel lobby uses intimidation tactics, corrupts the American political system and prevents criticism of its conduct from being voiced by the mainstream media.  Weir also employs anti-Semitic imagery and portrays Israel “and its agents” as ruthless forces that control American policy through brutal intimidation and deception.

In an April 4, 2008, opinion piece she wrote in The Greenwich Citizen entitled, “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding,” Weir characterized Judaism as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”

In her 2003 letter to Israel and Israel’s “frenzied defenders,” published at her own website and in CounterPunch, Weir claimed that Israel imposed its “uni-cultural nation, ridding yourself of hundreds of thousands of human beings who did not fit your national vision of purity.”  Weir added, “In this country [the U.S.]…you’ve killed careers. You’ve killed businesses. You’ve killed hope. You’ve weeded out sprigs of integrity from our Congress, journalists of principle from our press

The Aftonbladet Organ-Trafficking Accusations against Israel

In the Swedish paper, Aftonbladet, writer Donald Boström, in 2009, recounted a story that a young Palestinian man, wanted for terrorism, was shot dead in 1992, and how his body was returned a few days later to his family for burial. Boström then claims there are rumors that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) kills Palestinians and uses their organs for transplants – in collusion with the Israeli medical establishment. The article ends by saying it is time to look into this macabre activity, and urges the Israelis to investigate the allegations.

Medical experts have unanimously stated that the theft of organs from the dead for use in transplants, as alleged in the story, is medically impossible (read here).

However, Boström never outright asserts that Israel does any of these heinous things; he just reports rumors.

These initial responses were followed by a plethora of criticism of the paper, its editor in chief, and its cultural editor for publishing such an article. Politicians such as Gunnar Hökmark, member of the European Parliament from the Conservative Party, wrote that the article was shameful and that Aftonbladet had joined the ranks of papers that have published Nazi-like anti-Semitic propaganda.

The alleged witnesses to the events described in his article, including the families of the purported victims, have completely disavowed the story (read here)

In contrast, Boström’s article was welcomed in the Middle East – for instance, both in Iran and Syria.  In September, various Middle Eastern media published articles mimicking Boström’s, and, not surprisingly, took the conspiracy allegations even further.

The Algerian newspaper al-Khabar ran a story claiming that gangs of Algerians and Moroccans kidnapped Algerian children, took them to Morocco and then to Israel, where their organs were harvested and sold – all of this masterminded by Jews. Later that month, Iran’s Press TV charged that there was a Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs, and that this activity was growing.

Weir, blood libel and CounterPunch:

The blog Counterpunch, which is edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, published an article in 2009 – based largely from articles written about the controversy by notorious anti-Semite “Israel Shamir” – which alleged that the blood libel is true and is related to purported Israeli thefts of human organs from Palestinians. 

Wrote blogger, Adam Holland:

Counterpunch alleges not only that such murders and thefts of organs in fact truly occur, but that they are part of a campaign which is sanctioned by the Israeli government and other Israeli institutions and that it is connected to religious traditions allowing the ritual murder of gentiles.”

“Weir’s article makes the case that Israel plays a disproportionate role in the illegal trade in human organs, that the government and military is involved, and (as indicated above) that this trade has its roots in Jewish religious traditions involving ritual murder of gentiles.”

“In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions.  The Counterpunch article [by Weir] may be the first instance of an American leftist media outlet promoting the blood libel.” [emphasis mine]

However, as CounterPunch has a marginal reach, the decision by the Guardian to publish Weir’s defense of her CounterPunch essay may represent the first instance of a “respectable”, popular, mainstream liberal broadsheet legitimizing the antisemitic blood libel. 

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