August 31, 2009
The Swedish government’s reaction to the story recently published by the popular Swedish daily tabloid Aftonbladet, suggesting that Israeli had harvested the organs of Palestinian victims for their own purposes, is difficult to understand. The article was entitled “Our Sons’ Organs Were Plundered” and was based on interviews with Palestinian families – although no evidence was given to back up their claims.
Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, Sweden’s ambassador to Israel distanced Sweden from the “shocking and appalling.”article.
However, Opposition leaders in the Swedish Parliament attacked their ambassador for condemning the libel against Israel. A Green Party spokesman said that the Ambassador should be recalled and taught “the basics of Swedish freedom of speech.” When asked about the controversy, the Swedish Foreign Ministry in Stockholm distanced itself from her statement, saying it had no comment.
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt bridles in his blog at the accusations of antisemitism that are coming out of Israel and writes that the Swedish tabloid daily Aftonbladet, “obviously has to take responsibility for the matter.” The editors at Aftonbladet needed to justify having run an article that would “presumably elicit strong reactions.” Likewise, he has also written that he understands the anxiety Israelis might have when they see new instances of antisemitism.
He also understands their demands that the Swedish government distance itself from the report. “But,” he added, “that’s just not the way things are in our country – nor should they be.”
This is what I do not understand. The newspaper was entitled to publish the article. But so was the Ambassador – or indeed the Foreign Minister – entitled to criticise it, particularly because it was not factually based nor responsible. Freedom of expression is not a one-way street.
Do we conclude that the current Presidents of the EU would be unable to comment on anti-Obama article on a similarly sensitive topic?Author : Stanley Crossick