Donald Boström, the Swedish reporter who sparked a diplomatic furor by claiming Israel was harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians, has repeated his allegations, this time while on a visit to Israel, and after he told Haaretz and a conference in Dimona that he had no proof beyond the allegations of the families of the Palestinians involved.
"There are two things going on in Israel. One is illegal organ trafficking. They sell organs from here, hence the link to New Jersey. They buy organs from here from poor Israelis - so says the professor who performs this - CNN says it's poor Arabs, and yes, it has been proven," Boström said Tuesday in a Swedish radio broadcast from the Dimona conference.
"The second thing going on in parallel is organ theft ... from half-living or dead bodies. This is a known fact in Israel. This has been investigated many times in Israel ... They have investigated Israeli families' accusations of organ theft and those of British families, but the Palestinan families' claims of organ theft have not been investigated and that is what my article says, nothing else. This has to be investigated. And it is a relevant question to ask. Haaretz writes it today: This is a relevant question."
Meanwhile, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, which in August published Boström's original article on the alleged organ theft, also published a piece (http://www.aftonbladet.se/kultur/article6047398.ab) Sunday saying that the newspaper had been in touch with "a woman in Geneva whom, together with a lawyer, is preparing a letter to the UN concerning 15 illegally autopsied Palestinians, of whom eight have been proven to have missing organs - as late as in 2008."
The piece, written by culture section editor Åsa Linderborg, claims that the material has not yet been disclosed as the Palestinian families in question are ?scared to death of Israeli reprisals.?
Linderborg referred to a recent organ trafficking case in Haifa, in which two men were jailed, and the case of Yehuda Hiss, Israel's chief state pathologist and former director of the Abu Kabir forensic institute, who admitted to have taken tissue from a deceased Israeli soldier in 2001.
"Two months after the publication by Aftonbladet, the first verdict hits [in the Israeli organ affair]. There will be more," said the piece.
Bostrom under fire in Sweden
In the Swedish radio broadcast Tuesday, a debate took place on the ethics of Boström's article and the impact it had had on Israeli-Swedish relations. Among those who took part in the discussion was Swedish-Israeli artist and musician Dror Feiler, who claimed that the Israel Defense Forces "is involved in the transportation [of bodies]" and that Israel has developed a "culture of handling dead people in a careless way."
Feiler was the artist behind the 2004 exhibit Snow White and the Madness of Truth - an image of a Palestinian female suicide bomber floating in a sea of red water - which was vandalized by then Israeli ambassador to Sweden Zvi Marzel, who claimed that the piece was inherently anti-Semitic.
Asked Tuesday about allegations of anti-Semitism over Boström's article, Feiler said that Israel had not been willing to look into the allegations, and that it did not wish to uncover "the truth."
"It is very sad that [there are claims of anti-Semitism] instead of discussing the issue; that Israel has killed people without trial, which has been proven. These are people, that have been taken away from their towns in defiance of international law into the territory of the occupational force. They have undergone autopsies against their families' wishes and [the bodies] returned under suspicious circumstances - Why doesn't Israel hand over the autopsy reports? - They don't care about the truth."
Bostrom came under harsh criticism from the other debaters for his working methods and objectivity. Tobias Goldman, a political scientist, told him that "the whole article rests on insinuations and hypothesises ... there is no proof this [organ theft] actually took place. No autopsy reports - and when there is only insinuation, I can assume it [the article] is anti-Semitic."
Fellow panelist Professor Jesper Svartvik acknowledged the global consequences of organ trafficking, but questioned Boström's presence during the 1992 event, in which he related the killing of a young Palestinian boy, and criticized him for mixing prose and reporting.
"He [Boström] is clutching at straws, rumours, associations, insinuations, and gives Israel the burden of proof," Svartik said. "If you don´t have the case, you need to dig deeper."
Economist Anna Vider also attacked Boström's working methods, citing his use of witness reports solely from Palestinians, his failure to follow up with the Israeli authorities, the lack of interviews, and research. She also slammed him for linking a 1992 incident to allegations of organ trafficking in New Jersey in 2009.
"It takes a lot of research, it´s not just something you do in a week," Vider said: "As a journalist, he [Boström] should have taken it further. I think it's dishonest."
Boström rebuffed the criticism by saying: "I'm a reporter, not an investigator."
?He links the events, but refuses to discuss the connection," Vider continued. "It is indecent to wait for the scandal in New Jersey before publishing it. Why didn't he do it in 1992? This article has great impact on how Israelis look on Sweden and our involvement in the conflict."
Boström explained yet again the event in 1992 and reiterated that "I am reporting actual incidents," to which Vider retorted: "I am waiting for your evidence. Why will you not hand them over, when you demand them of Israel? Hand over the evidence!"
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