Legitimizing antisemitism: Guardian provides platform to Alison Wier, blood libel promoter


CiF published a commentary by Andy Newman yesterday, “Gilad Atzmon, antisemitism and the left“, which took aim at the extreme antisemitism of Gilad Atzmon, as well as Alison Weir, an extreme anti-Israel activist who penned an essay for CounterPunch in 2009 lending support to the defamation against Israel regarding the trafficking of Palestinian organs.  

Newman’s piece, as we noted in post yesterday, elicited a high volume of antisemitic reader comments, several explicitly supporting the organ trafficking story.

Shamefully, the Guardian provided Weir a forum yesterday by publishing her letter, Antisemitism and the left – some facts, Sept. 26.

Weir, defending her promotion of the lie that Israelis harvest Palestinian organs from, and charges by Newman that her thesis is devoid of any evidence, writes, on the pages of the Guardian:

I quoted a speech on international organ trafficking by Dr Nancy Scheper-Hughes – Chancellor’s professor of medical anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the world’s foremost expert on organ trafficking – in which she stated: “Israel is at the top. It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.” [emphasis mine]

Weir further responded to Newman’s argument that her CounterPunch essay legitimized the medieval antisemitic blood libel against Jews.

(The blood libel, the charge that Jews ritually murdered gentiles and used their blood to cast spells, was a mainstay of medieval European anti-Semitism. In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions.)

Writes Weir:

I am happy to point Mr Newman to a previous lengthy article I wrote on Israeli organ trafficking in which, near the end, there is a very short section in which I quote Israeli media reports that a prominent Israeli professor of medieval Jewish history had published a book on this subject.

So, briefly, who is Weir?

No mere anti-Israel activist, Weir, according to the Anti-Defamation League, advances classic Zionist conspiracy theories, such as the argument that the Israel lobby uses intimidation tactics, corrupts the American political system and prevents criticism of its conduct from being voiced by the mainstream media.  Weir also employs anti-Semitic imagery and portrays Israel “and its agents” as ruthless forces that control American policy through brutal intimidation and deception.

In an April 4, 2008, opinion piece she wrote in The Greenwich Citizen entitled, “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding,” Weir characterized Judaism as “such a ruthless and supremacist faith.”

In her 2003 letter to Israel and Israel’s “frenzied defenders,” published at her own website and in CounterPunch, Weir claimed that Israel imposed its “uni-cultural nation, ridding yourself of hundreds of thousands of human beings who did not fit your national vision of purity.”  Weir added, “In this country [the U.S.]…you’ve killed careers. You’ve killed businesses. You’ve killed hope. You’ve weeded out sprigs of integrity from our Congress, journalists of principle from our press

The Aftonbladet Organ-Trafficking Accusations against Israel

In the Swedish paper, Aftonbladet, writer Donald Boström, in 2009, recounted a story that a young Palestinian man, wanted for terrorism, was shot dead in 1992, and how his body was returned a few days later to his family for burial. Boström then claims there are rumors that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) kills Palestinians and uses their organs for transplants – in collusion with the Israeli medical establishment. The article ends by saying it is time to look into this macabre activity, and urges the Israelis to investigate the allegations.

Medical experts have unanimously stated that the theft of organs from the dead for use in transplants, as alleged in the story, is medically impossible (read here).

However, Boström never outright asserts that Israel does any of these heinous things; he just reports rumors.

These initial responses were followed by a plethora of criticism of the paper, its editor in chief, and its cultural editor for publishing such an article. Politicians such as Gunnar Hökmark, member of the European Parliament from the Conservative Party, wrote that the article was shameful and that Aftonbladet had joined the ranks of papers that have published Nazi-like anti-Semitic propaganda.

The alleged witnesses to the events described in his article, including the families of the purported victims, have completely disavowed the story (read here)

In contrast, Boström’s article was welcomed in the Middle East – for instance, both in Iran and Syria.  In September, various Middle Eastern media published articles mimicking Boström’s, and, not surprisingly, took the conspiracy allegations even further.

The Algerian newspaper al-Khabar ran a story claiming that gangs of Algerians and Moroccans kidnapped Algerian children, took them to Morocco and then to Israel, where their organs were harvested and sold – all of this masterminded by Jews. Later that month, Iran’s Press TV charged that there was a Jewish conspiracy to kidnap children and harvest their organs, and that this activity was growing.

Weir, blood libel and CounterPunch:

The blog Counterpunch, which is edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, published an article in 2009 - based largely from articles written about the controversy by notorious anti-Semite “Israel Shamir” - which alleged that the blood libel is true and is related to purported Israeli thefts of human organs from Palestinians. 

Wrote blogger, Adam Holland:

Counterpunch alleges not only that such murders and thefts of organs in fact truly occur, but that they are part of a campaign which is sanctioned by the Israeli government and other Israeli institutions and that it is connected to religious traditions allowing the ritual murder of gentiles.”

“Weir’s article makes the case that Israel plays a disproportionate role in the illegal trade in human organs, that the government and military is involved, and (as indicated above) that this trade has its roots in Jewish religious traditions involving ritual murder of gentiles.”

“In Europe, the blood libel led to pogroms, mass slayings and expulsions.  The Counterpunch article [by Weir] may be the first instance of an American leftist media outlet promoting the blood libel.” [emphasis mine]

However, as CounterPunch has a marginal reach, the decision by the Guardian to publish Weir’s defense of her CounterPunch essay may represent the first instance of a “respectable”, popular, mainstream liberal broadsheet legitimizing the antisemitic blood libel. 

18 comments on “Legitimizing antisemitism: Guardian provides platform to Alison Wier, blood libel promoter

  1. first instance of a “respectable”, popular, mainstream liberal broadsheet legitimizing the antisemitic the blood libel.

    The Guardian is so far removed from these adjectives

    - respectable
    - popular
    - mainstream
    - liberal

    that it may as well retitle itself Der Stuermer and dig up the corpse of Goebbels to ornament its editorial conferences.

    • Just as an FYI, the adjectives describe how, sadly, many others view the paper. One of the missions of our blog is to expose that the Guardian is decidedly illiberal, and ideologically extreme.

  2. The homepage of her “Council for the National Interest” currently has the following headline:

    Many of the most serious dangers facing Americans today stem from our “special relationship” with Israel.

    Lower down is a rotating series of other headlines: Billions in Aid … Israeli Agrression … Israel Lobby and US Attacked (the USS Liberty).

    Plus one of the tabs at the top is about “Media Bias”!

    Why would she write articles about organ-trafficking (which happens everywhere) on a highly charged political website attacking Israel with every breath it takes?

    Perhaps Andy Newman can follow up with his own reply. That woman deserves public ridicule.

    • Perhaps Andy Newman can follow up with his own reply. That woman deserves public ridicule.

      Perhaps the Guardian shouldn’t have published an letter penned by Alison Weir? Who is next? David Duke? Pat Buchanan? Nick Griffith?

      I know Pretzel the Guardian has not any anti-semitic agenda – they only publish different opinions…

      • There is something Orwellian, Stalinist, or fascist about the name of her group ““Council for the National Interest” “

      • In her original article, Weir seems very keen to believe the blood libel story. What point was she trying to make anyway?

        And I see a certain Tony Greenstein added his views to the discussion below.

  3. Newman’s article is incoherent and poorly argued. Weir, on the contrary, presents detailed evidence of Israel’s leading role in organ trading, which involves senior establishment doctors and is apparently tolerated by the state. This would be of great concern regardless of the truth of the llegations about organ theft from Palestinians.

  4. I think the phrase “regardless of the truth” applies to the vast majority of hybrid op-eds/investigative “journalism” pieces written by the lunatic pro-Palestinian fringe.

  5. Perhaps someone should put Alison Weir in touch with Ian Crane, mentioned in the article by Mitnaged. Seems to me they share a very similar world view.

  6. Sencar, seriously, if the evidence can stand scrutiny, would you like to repeat it here?

    Do you know what a self-serving bias is?

    Thought not.

  7. I held my nose and read the Counterpunch article.

    It was a tissue of hearsay evidence dressed up as a bona fide account.

    Given this woman’s antisemitic bias, which she doesn’t bother to hide, I wouldn’t believe a word she writes about this unless scanned official documents are published in the article and bear her story out.

    As for Bostrom:

    Andrea Levin of the media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting) enumerated the many factual errors, omissions, and false linkages that mar Bostrom’s article. To begin with, regarding Bilal Ahmed Ghanem, whose funeral Bostrom witnessed in 1992, Levin pointed out that Bostrom characterized him as a mere “stone thrower.” In fact, Ghanem was wanted for participation in violent attacks on Palestinians accused of collaborating with Israel. Many of those who were tortured and murdered by Palestinians like Ghanem were medical staff and others who in their line of work were in contact with Israelis. Levin notes that some Palestinians even used allegations of collaboration as a way to settle personal scores.

    Furthermore, Bostrom claimed that Ghanem’s family had accused Israel of having robbed him of his organs and that this was part of a larger trend. However, Levin pointed out that when Jerusalem Post reporter Khaled Abu Toameh visited the Ghanem family in August 2009 following the publication of Bostrom’s article, the family denied having made any such allegations to the Swedish reporter.

    Levin also criticized Bostrom’s characterization of Israel as a pariah in connection to international organ-donation cooperation. Bostrom falsely linked a campaign in 1992 to encourage Israelis to donate organs with the death of Ghanem and other Palestinian men.

    Moreover, Bostrom claimed that Israeli physicians openly engage in illegal organ trade, and that Israel is involved in this on a vast scale. To back up this accusation, he referred to Dr. Frances Delmonico of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Levin, however, noted that Delmonico, when made aware of how he had been used by Bostrom, rejected the Swedish journalist’s assertions.

    Bostrom also wrote that Israel had been excluded from international organ-transplant cooperation because of unethical activity. To substantiate this he cited a 1992 Jerusalem Post article reporting that France had implemented a moratorium on Israeli nationals receiving organs in France. However, Levin pointed out that this article made no reference to unethical practices in Israel; instead, France’s objection was that Israel had not contributed enough organs to the international transplant pool. Bostrom also failed to mention that Italy, too, was excluded from the pool. Indeed, the moratorium has long since been lifted; this did not stop Bostrom from using, and misrepresenting, a seventeen-year-old article.

    Most troubling, Levin observed, was the linkage Bostrom implied between all this and the arrest of a Jewish businessman in New Jersey who had been involved in organ trading. Bostrom used this arrest to justify reiterating the story of Ghanem, who died in 1992.

    Are you there, sencar?

    What do you think of Weir’s research now? Strange that she endorsed Bostrom without telling us all the veriable information above which rather discounts everything she herself wrote and her reliance on him as credible isn’t it? Mmm?

    Well? What have you to say? Would you recognise credible research if you fell over it?

    Until then she’s out there with the rest of the tinfoil hat brigade so far as I am concerned.

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