The false and malicious report in a Swedish newspaper that Israeli soldiers abducted and killed Palestinians, including children, to harvest their organs has mushroomed into a global conspiracy theory. Within months, the story has generated several conspiracy theories about various Jewish plots to harvest organs from victims around the globe, including from kidnapped Algerian and Ukrainian children and from Haitians pulled from the rubble of the earthquake that devastated their nation.
The conspiracy theory related to the Israeli rescue teams in Haiti reached all the way to the British House of Lords, where Baroness Jenny Tonge called on Israel to launch an investigation into the conduct of its military in Haiti. Tonge made the comment after an English-language Palestinian newspaper, The Palestine Telegraph, published an article that cited a report by Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV regarding the organ trafficking allegations. The Palestinian paper lists Tonge as one of two members of a "board of patrons." Following the story, Tonge apologized. However, Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, called Tonge's comment "unacceptable" and subsequently announced that she was stepping down from her position as party spokeswoman on health issues.
The conspiracy theories have been reported as fact by Iranian and Arab media, including Press TV, a state-funded Iranian TV news channel, and leading pan-Arab satellite news networks Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya. In addition, newspapers in Jordan, Oman, Qatar and other Arab countries published series of editorial cartoons that depicted Israelis as vicious butchers who were gleefully cutting off the body parts of Arabs and trading in Palestinians' organs.
The most recent version of this conspiracy, claiming that Israeli rescue teams in Haiti may be involved in stealing organs, was created by a Seattle man who posted a YouTube video. Within hours, the allegations appeared on various Web sites around the world, including that of Press TV; the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, an armed wing of the terrorist group Hamas; and the site of Alex Jones, an American anti-Israel conspiracy theorist.
Several American groups, including If Americans Knew, which seeks to de-legitimize U.S. support for Israel, and We Hold These Truths, an Arizona-based Christian anti-Semitic group, have endorsed a petition that calls for an "investigation into allegations that Israelis have removed organs from Palestinians." The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a Los Angeles-based group that presents itself as a moderate voice of Islam in the U.S., called for an international investigation for alleged war crimes based on the original allegations in the Swedish newspaper. MPAC also suggested that Israel's efforts to defend itself from the organ trafficking claims illustrated its tendency to bully critics of Israel with charges of anti-Semitism.
The following is a list of the various organ harvesting conspiracy theories:
Swedish Daily Blames Israel of Killing Palestinians for Organs
On August 17, 2009, Aftonbladet, a Swedish daily tabloid, published an article by Donald Bostrom, which accused Israeli soldiers of kidnapping and killing Palestinians, including children, in order to harvest their organs. The article, "They plunder the organs of our sons," claimed that in the beginning of the 1990s while the Israeli government was launching a public campaign to register organ donors, a more secretive operation was being run by the Israeli Defense Force in which Palestinians were murdered and their organs stolen. Bostrom, who reportedly made similar allegations in the past, linked the story to the arrest the previous month of an orthodox Jew from Brooklyn, who is accused of brokering a trade of organs. The article was reprinted and posted on numerous Internet sites and applauded in editorials in the online editions of leading pan-Arab satellite news networks Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya.
In the U.S. several groups published statements that repeated the allegations from Bostrom's article. One group, the American Muslims for Palestine, issued a statement demanding that the U.S. and United Nations investigate "Israeli culpability in the New Jersey Rabbis case" and allegations "concerning illegally harvesting Palestinian organs."
Algerian Daily Claims Jewish Gangs Abduct Algerian Children
On September 6, 2009, the Arabic-language Algerian daily El-Khabar published a fabricated story that claimed that Interpol, the international police organization, has revealed the existence of "a Jewish gang" that was "involved in the abduction of children from Algeria and trafficking of their organs."
The story was reported on by Al Jazeera, Press TV and Islam Online, a popular online publication connected to Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi. It also appeared in various Arab-American newspapers and Web sites, including Al Watan, an Arab-American newspaper published out of Anaheim, California, and The Palestine Chronicle, a Washington-based online publication that often prints anti-Semitic conspiratorial stories. It was further picked up by dozens of other news Web sites and blogs around the world, including anti-Semitic sites, and was disseminated via email.
The story was based an alleged statement by someone named Mustafa Khayatti, who in different places has been identified as either an Algerian official or the head of an Algerian NGO. Khayatti claimed that, "Jewish organ trafficking gangs…remain active in several Arab countries."
Ukrainian Professor Accuses Israel of Abducting 25,000 Ukrainian Children
On November 29, 2009, a Ukrainian philosophy professor, Vyacheslav Gudin, told the audience at a conference in Kiev that about 25,000 Ukrainian children were brought to Israel where their organs were harvested. He claimed that the children were taken for adoption but ended up as "spare parts" for Israeli medical centers. He called it "genocide." The conference purported to be a scientific gathering but included other anti-Jewish presentations. In response to an official Israeli protest, demonstrators gathered outside the Israeli embassy in Kiev chanting "Ukraine isn't the Gaza Strip."
Several Ukrainian Web sites published stories that repeated Gudin's claims. It was also picked up by Press TV, which published an article titled "Ukrainian kids, new victims of Israeli 'organ theft.'" That article was then reprinted in a Canadian Muslim bi-weekly, al-Ameen Post. Responding to demands from B'nai Brith Canada, the community paper later published an apology "to our fellow Jewish Canadians" in which it pointed out that "the issue of 'Organ Harvesting in Israel' was being discussed at the time of our last publication, by major media outlets."
YouTube Video Claims Israeli Rescue Team in Haiti May Steal Organs
On January 20, 2010 a Seattle man who identified himself as "T. West" of "AfriSynergy Productions" posted a video on YouTube in which he said that that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operating a rescue mission in Haiti may attempt to steal organs based on past involvement in stealing organs from Palestinians.
Within hours the story was picked by several anti-Israel Web sites and some Middle East news sources, including the Web sites Press TV; Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV; Hamas affiliated Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and the Web site of Alex Jones, an American conspiracy theorist.
Counterpunch, an American Left-leaning anti-Zionist newsletter, published an article by Bouthaina Shaaban, an advisor to the Syrian president, which claimed that "there are documented reports from Haiti that organs are being stolen by Israelis," and that Israel and the U.S. "use the Haiti disaster to cover up their crimes."
Several days after West posted his YouTube video, Khalil Bendib, the most published cartoonist in Arab and Muslim-American newspapers, posted to his Web site a cartoon that depicted an IDF soldiers with angel's wings spilling out "Palestinian organs."
One of the most blatantly anti-Semitic reports to be published based on T. West’s video was aired on Syria TV, a state-run channel, on January 27. It falsely claimed that T. West’s video actually showed members of the IDF mission to Haiti stealing organs from earthquake victims. One person interviewed for the show as an expert, a Damascus University professor, said that Israel’s conduct in Haiti was reminiscent of Shylock and explained that “as we see, the Jew has not changed – especially the Zionist Jews, who are now gathered in the so-called ‘Israel,’ which is the largest concentration in history of war criminals.”
The History of the Blood Libel
The allegation that Jews murder non-Jews to use their blood for ritual or medicinal purposes dates back to the Middle Ages and has spawned many variants over time. Jewish law expressly prohibits the consumption of any blood. Nevertheless it was alleged that Jews drank Christian blood on Passover and mixed it into matzah, the unleavened bread eaten on that holiday. During medieval times two popes expressly declared such claims to have been fabricated. Nevertheless, instances of what has come to be known as the "blood libel" have persisted into modern times. Blood libels have frequently led to mob violence and pogroms, and have occasionally led to the decimation of entire Jewish communities.
Famous blood libels in the past two centuries took place in Damascus in 1840; Kishinev in 1903; Kiev in 1913; Massena, New York in 1928; and Kielce, Poland, in 1946. More recently, the claim that Jews harvest blood and organs from non-Jews has been published in books and disseminated in the media, especially in Arab and Muslim countries.