Israel criticises Swedish democracy (updated)

aftonbladet1 The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week criticised Swedish democracy and freedom of speech, following an article in in which the author accuses the Israeli army of murdering young Palestinians to steal and trade their organs.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is quoted as saying that no democratic country should allow a discussion that inevitably encourages hate crimes upon Jews. The spokesperson calls the article a disgrace on freedom of speech that spreads disgrace upon Swedish democracy and the entire Swedish press. The statement has been quoted in virtually every Israeli media.

According to an article today in Dagens Media, an Israeli government official calls the article “hate porn” and the Israeli ambassador in Stockholm has demanded that the Swedish government take a stand for or against the publication. Aftonbladet’s editor in chief, Jan Helin who during the last couple of days has been defending the article in his blog and in foreign press is today also demanding in an open letter to foreign minister Carl Bildt that the government takes a stand on the issue.

The Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt has so far declined to comment on the matter. Somewhat surprisingly though, the Swedish ambassador in Jerusalem earlier joined the criticism and rejected the article on behalf of the Swedish embassy in Israel. But that condemnation has now been withdrawn and the Press Officer of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the ministry does not support the criticism; adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs respects Swedish freedom of speech and does not review articles in Swedish media concerning foreign situations.

The article in Aftonbladet is written by the author and photographer Donald Bostrom who in previous articles and books has directed similar criticism to the Israeli army. He has however not been able to present evidence except his own experience to support the claims. Bostrom has received several death treats since the article was publicised.

The criticism from Israel seems, however, not to have been directed at the article as such; but rather at the Swedish state for allowing such articles to be published.

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