Israel pressed Stockholm on Sunday to condemn a report by a Swedish newspaper about alleged body-snatching that has stoked tensions between the two countries.
“We are not asking the Swedish government for an apology, we are asking for their condemnation,” a senior official quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as telling ministers during a weekly Cabinet meeting.
Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz of Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party said “the crisis will continue as long as the Swedish government doesn’t change its attitude toward this anti-Semitic article. Those who do not condemn it are not welcome in Israel.”
The comments came two weeks before Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is to visit Israel, with Stockholm currently holding the rotating EU presidency.
“There is no question of canceling or delaying this visit, but it is clear that this incident will cast a worrying shadow over meetings if it is not resolved,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper sparked the row last week when it published a report claiming Israeli soldiers snatched Palestinian youths to steal their organs and returned their dismembered bodies days later.
The Swedish government has declined to condemn the piece, saying it has to respect the principle of freedom of expression enshrined in its Constitution.
The newspaper rowed back on its story on Sunday, acknowledging that it had no proof of the allegations that it made against the Israeli soldiers but arguing that the story deserved publication because of the issues it raised.
“I’m not a Nazi. I’m not an anti-Semite. I’m a responsible editing executive who gave the green light to the publication of an article because it asks a number of pertinent questions,” Aftonbladet editor-in-chief Jan Helin wrote.
In an editorial headlined “The week the world went crazy,” he admitted that the paper’s initial story published on Monday last week “lacked” proof of any organ theft.
The article has sparked outrage in Israel, with Netanyahu and scores of ministers and commentators calling it a “blood libel” smacking of anti-Semitic accusations against Jews.
“The Swedish government cannot keep silent any longer. In the Middle Ages, slander was spread accusing Jews of preparing Passover matza [unleavened bread] with the blood of Christian children,” Steinitz said.
“And today it is IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers who are accused of killing Palestinians to take their organs,” he said.
LIFE GOES ON: After a strict lockdown that left millions on the brink of starvation, Indians embrace work to avoid starvation and get ready for several major festivals India is on course to top the world in COVID-19 cases, but from Maharashtra’s whirring factories to Kolkata’s thronging markets, people are back at work — and eager to forget the pandemic for festival season. After a strict lockdown in March that left millions on the brink of starvation, the government and people of the world’s second-most populous country decided life must go on. Sonali Dange, for instance, has two young daughters and an elderly mother-in-law to look after. She was hospitalized this year in excruciating pain after catching the novel coronavirus. However, after the lockdown exhausted the family’s savings, the 29-year-old had
A COVID-19 outbreak among hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian fishers flown to New Zealand to bolster its struggling deep-sea fishing industry has prompted that country’s largest daily increase in infections in months, authorities said yesterday. More than 230 fishers were flown in from Moscow last week, with 18 of the crew members then testing positive for COVID-19 while in quarantine, New Zealand Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said. The Pacific nation has almost eliminated local transmission of the virus, but regularly records small numbers of new cases in returned travelers. The fishing cluster pushed the daily tally of new infections to 25,
From monitoring vital signs to filtering filthy air and even translating speech into other languages, the COVID-19-fueled boom in mask-wearing has spawned an unusual range of high-tech face coverings. As masks become the norm worldwide, tech companies and researchers are rolling out weird and wonderful models to guard against infection and cash in on a growing trend. One of the wackiest comes from Japan, where start-up Donut Robotics has created a face covering that helps users adhere to social distancing and also acts as a translator. The “C-Face” mask works by transmitting a wearer’s speech to a smartphone via an app, and allows
JAPAN Deer-edible bags invented The deer that roam Nara no longer face discomfort — or far worse — after local firms developed a safe alternative to the plastic packaging discarded by tourists that often ended up in the animals’ stomachs. Last year, several of the 1,300 deer that wander around the ancient capital’s central park were found dead after swallowing plastic bags and food wrappers. Firms collaborated to develop bags that pass safely through the animals’ complex digestive system. The bags are made with recycled pulp from milk cartons and rice bran, one of the main ingredients of the shika senbei savory