Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Israel Declares War on Sweden!

Or at least on the Swedish press.

by Joshua Holland

You understand the rules of the game, right? When a Scandinavian paper prints something offensive to the Muslim world and Islamic leaders condemn it, protest it, or ask for an apology it's simply more evidence that the "false religion" doesn't mix with democracy, and an occasion for fonts of outrage on the part of newly minted free speech enthusiasts on the right.

But don't hold your breath waiting for those voices to condemn the exact same behavior from The Only Democracy in the Middle East®.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel urged the Swedish government on Sunday to condemn an article in a Swedish newspaper last week accusing the Israeli Army of harvesting organs from Palestinians wounded or killed by soldiers.

As the furor in Israel over the article gathered into a diplomatic storm revolving around questions of anti-Semitism and freedom of speech, Mr. Netanyahu told ministers at a cabinet meeting on Sunday that the article, published in the Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet, was "outrageous" and compared it to a "blood libel," referring to medieval anti-Semitic accusations that Jews ritually killed gentile children and collected their blood.

"We are not asking the government of Sweden for an apology," Mr. Netanyahu said, according to an official who attended the cabinet meeting and who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We are asking for their condemnation."

To be clear: it does seem from all accounts that the article was a truly shoddy piece of reporting, based on unconfirmed rumors dating back more than a decade (and as such the "Swedish libel" will be used to defend against other, legitimate charges of abuse on the part of the Israeli military).

But that's kind of beside the point -- the same allegations have been published several times without the kind of hand-wringing we're seeing now.What's interesting here is that the outrage in Israel -- they're boycotting Ikea, which I actually find kind of funny for some reason -- is being nurtured directly and apparently intentionally by ...

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's outspoken foreign minister, has led the protest, saying that the Swedish government's silence was "reminiscent of Sweden's position during World War II, when it also did not become involved."

What's going on? Well, a little wag the dog ...

Lieberman is the subject of multiple corruption probes. In all likelihood, he'll have to resign in disgrace at some point soon, and may face jail time. But in the meantime, a nice, juicy foreign scandal -- a blood libel, no less! -- might just take some heat off of the controversial far-right minister.


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