Sweden's Ministry of Justice announced Monday that it will examine complaints submitted in response to an article in popular Swedish newspaper that claimed Israel Defense Forces soldiers kill Palestinians in order to steal their organs.
Two complaints were issued to the ministry in Stockholm on Tuesday, alleging that the article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet was racist and amounted to incitement against Israelis.
According to Swedish law, a publication may be considered illegal if it is threatening or expresses contempt towards a person or group of people based on their race, ethnicity, or nationality.
The complaints were presented to Håkan Rustand, a legal advisor to Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz who said Lambertz has the authority to decide whether or not the article violated Swedish. Rustand has stated that he doesn't believe the article violated Swedish law.
The editor-in-chief of Aftonbladet on Monday denied accusations on Monday that he was anti-Semitic.
"I'm not a Nazi," Jan Helin wrote in a blog entry on Monday. "I'm not an anti-Semite. I'm the editor-in-chief who has allowed the publication of a culture article because it asked a number of relevant questions."
The article set off a media frenzy in Israel, where the article's author has been accused of disseminating "a blood libel" against the Jews. Much of the controversy was due to the article's attempts to tie Jewish criminals who trafficked in organs in New Jersey to the alleged harvesting of Palestinian organs by IDF soldiers.
Dozens of demonstrators gathered on Monday outside the Swedish embassy in Tel Aviv in protest of Stockholm's ongoing refusal to condemn the article, Army Radio reported.
They waved Matzos [pieces of unleavened bread] smeared with red paint, alluding to the common Medieval blood libel. They also set up a mock market stall with a banner "Palestinian organs on sale here."
On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the Swedish government to condemn the article.
An official present at the weekly session of the cabinet said Netanyahu told his ministers he did not expect the Swedish government to apologize for the article in the tabloid but he did expect it to take a stand.
"We're not asking the Swedish government for an apology, we're asking for their condemnation," the official - speaking on condition of anonymity in keeping with Cabinet rules - quoted Netanyahu as saying.
The prime minister added that the story was "reminiscent of medieval libels that Jews killed Christian children for their blood," said the official.
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has already rejected Israeli calls for an official condemnation.
Some in Jerusalem expressed satisfaction over an entry in the personal blog of Sweden's foreign minister, which led some here to believe the official stance in Stockholm has softened.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz strongly criticized the Swedish government on Sunday, saying that its silence in face of the Aftonbladet article charging IDF soldiers with harvesting organs from dead Palestinians is tantamount to a diplomatic crisis.
"Anyone who is unwilling to condemn such a blood libel could be considered unwanted in Israel," Steinitz said.
The finance minister added that the "Swedish government cannot remain indifferent, and the crisis will remain until Sweden responds in a different manner."
"Israel cannot ignore such a manifestation of anti-Semitism," Steinitz said.
Mikael Tossavainen contributed to this report.
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