Monday, December 21, 2009

Israel Admits Harvesting Palestinian Organs

Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs

By Ian Black, Middle East Editor
via the Guardian UK

"Israel has admitted that pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families - a practice that it said ended in the 1990s, it emerged at the weekend.

The admission, by the former head of the country's forensic institute, follows a furious row when a Swedish newspaper reported Israel was killing Palestinians in order to use their organs – a charge that Israel denied and called "anti-semitic".

The revelation, in a TV documentary, is likely to generate anger in the Arab and Muslim worlds and reinforce sinister stereotypes of Israel and its attitude to Palestinians. Iran's state-run Press TV tonight reported the story illustrated with photographs of dead or badly injured Palestinians.

Ahmed Tibi, an Israeli Arab MP, said the report incriminated the Israeli army.

The story emerged in an interview with Dr Yehuda Hiss, former head of the Abu Kabir forensic institute near Tel Aviv.

The interview was conducted in 2000 by an American academic who released it because of the row between Israel and Sweden over a report in the Stockholm newspaper Aftonbladet.

Channel 2 TV reported that in the 1990s, specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.

The Israeli military confirmed to the programme that the practice took place but added: "This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer."

Hiss said: "We started to harvest corneas ... whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family."

However, there was no evidence that Israel had killed Palestinians to take their organs, as the Swedish paper reported. Aftonbladet quoted Palestinians as saying young men from the West Bank and Gaza Strip had been seized by the Israeli forces and their bodies returned to their families with missing organs.

The interview with Hiss was released by Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley. Sheppard-Hughes, who had conducted a study of Abu Kabir, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that while Palestinians were "by a long shot" not the only ones affected by the practice, she felt the interview must be made public because "the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, [is] something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered."

Israel demanded Sweden condemn the Aftonbladet article, calling it an anti-semitic "blood libel". Stockholm refused, saying that to so would violate its freedom of speech. The foreign minister then canceled a visit to Israel, just as Sweden was taking over the EU's rotating presidency.

Hiss was removed from his post in 2004, when some details about organ harvesting were first reported, but he still works at the forensic institute.

Israel's health ministry said all harvesting was now done with permission. "The guidelines at that time were not clear," it said in a statement to Channel 2. "For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law.""


  1. didn't you know god had promised their organs to these european land invaders as well...c'mon look it up dude, it's in the book!

  2. "My family moved to the United States from Lebanon at the beginning of the 20th century and the strange, hybrid identity Arab/American shapes the way I see the world. But don't be scared, I am one of the good ones"

    I'm not scared, but this post of yours is so misleading that I while I suspect you are one of the good ones, I also think you are a dumbass.

    The harvesting was done to any "eligible" body that entered that coroner's department, regardless of race, creed, color, gender. It happened to Palestinians, and it also happened to Israeli soldiers.

    That's not racism, that's a few doctors ideas on the morality of organ harvesting in providing to the living culture.

    And it stopped over 10 years ago.

    I don't know if you're stupid, or evil.

  3. @"Anonymous"
    I published your comment not because it is worth hearing in and of itself, but to illustrate the repulsive, knee-jerk defense of anything Israel does, no matter how heinous, among many of its supporters. I sometimes wonder what it would take for Zionists to actually admit Israel's actions weren't perfectly justified in every instance: The murder of Rachel Corrie? The targeting of Lebanese and Palestinian civilians including women and children (as confirmed by the Goldstone Report)? And now the theft of organs from the very population it oppresses? All are apparently perfectly justified by your ideology.

    If you had bothered to read the post you would see that I republished it from the Guardian UK where it was written by Ian Black, not me. The headline--which is the Guardian's, not mine--specifies the theft of Palestinian organs by Israeli doctors because the original accusation of organ theft made by a Swedish reporter was decried as a "blood libel" by the Israeli government. Outraged Israelis and Zionists around the world called for a boycott of Sweden. The reporter was vilified and the Swedish government was urged by Israelis to disavow the assertion, drawing ironic parallels to the Muhammad cartoon affair. Sweden refused, citing the value of a free press in its society and the outraged sputtering continued...

    Until a third party came forward with proof that the most important element of the accusation is true, Israeli doctors DID illegally strip the organs from the bodies of Palestinians to benefit Jewish Israelis who needed them. So, does an accusation still count as a "blood libel" when it's true? Perhaps you think so.

    But according to you these gruesome crimes don't merit comment in any event because they "stopped over ten years ago"? That is ridiculous, but sadly typical of the attitude of Israel's boosters, no matter what the crime. The Latin Americanist Diana Taylor has coined the term "percepticide" to describe the willful blindness of a population to the crimes of the State. She describes how the Argentine government were able to snatch people off the street, "disappearing" them in full view of Argentinians who continued about their business as if it weren't happening. I think that might be a useful term to describe the phenomenon at work here in and around Israel. Yes, there were also Jewish Israeli bodies stripped of their organs, as Black points out, but that does not make the recycling of Palestinian body parts (skin, eyes, etc.) less racist in sum. When the "living culture" you describe is composed entirely of Israeli Jews--who were the exclusive beneficiary of the stolen organs--then one needn't look too far to see the racist intent that views Palestinian bodies as a renewable resource to sustain an Israeli body politic. If you cannot (or more likely will not) see that, then you are blinded by an ideology that affords you privileges that Palestinians do not enjoy in their own homeland because of Israeli occupation.

    I am happy to post dissenting opinions but...really... grow a pair and sign your name(s). Anonymous name calling is cowardly to the point of embarrassment in conversations between adults. If you cannot bring yourself to sign even a made-up name to your argument then perhaps you should look a bit more deeply into your motivations for making it.

    A final note: Unfortunately for you I am neither stupid nor evil. I am an Arab who is paying attention. Fair warning: there are an awful lot of us and we are not going anywhere.