A storm brewed. Attention turned to the other Palestinian writers on the bill, including Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian poet whose debut collection Rifqa narrates his experience of dispossession in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. The Anti-Defamation League has criticised some of his social media comments as antisemitic, as well as a line in one of his poems: “They harvest organs of the martyred, feed their warriors our own.”
It shouldn’t require the ADL for a Guardian journalist to understand that the accusation of Israel “harvest[ing] the organs of…martyred” Palestinians and “feeding” those organs to their own soldiers is a monstrous, medieval antisemitic blood libel – variations of which incited the murder of Jews going back to the Middle Ages. Though the libel began in Norwich in 1144 with the accusation that Jews murder non-Jews and then use the victim’s blood for Jewish rituals, the blood libel lives on in the sham charges accusing Jews/Zionists of “harvesting the organs” of their hapless Palestinian victims.
Yet, later in her article, Cain legitimises that very antisemitic accusation:
El-Kurd, speaking to the crowd via video link from New York, addressed the line about organs that some had labelled antisemitic: it was based on easily found and widespread news reports from 2009 in which the Israeli military admitted pathologists had harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families for years.
The article the journalist links to is a 2009 Guardian article – the grossly misleading headline of which was later amended – based on a report on Israeli television quoting a professor saying that, until the 1990s, “pathologists used to harvest organs, especially corneas and skin, from the bodies of soldiers, Israeli civilians, Palestinians and foreign workers, without getting consent from their families”. (That Guardian article came on the heels of the Aftonbladet scandal two months earlier, in which a Swedish tabloid published a false story alleging that the IDF kills Palestinians to provide the Israeli medical establishment with organs.)
The accusation by el-Kurd that Israel “harvests the organs” of dead Palestinians and “feed their warriors” those organs has no resemblance whatsoever to the long-abandoned practice of using the corneas or skin of deceased Israelis and Palestinians without permission, and we’ve complained to Guardian editors demanding a retraction.