Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Swedish government is not responsible for its media's blood libel

A repulsive report in a Swedish tabloid, accusing the IDF of abducting and killing Palestinians in order to steal their internal organs, has angered Israeli officials, who call it a modern blood libel. (The local Swedish Jews, incidentally, don't seem quite as worked up - presumably because they know that most of their compatriots never saw the story and don't care.)

The Israelis are, of course, right about the report's nature, and now even the author of the report has backed down, admitting he wasn't sure that what he wrote was true. (A little late to discover now.)

Were the Israelis right, however, to complain to the Swedish ambassador? And was the Swedish embassy right to distance itself from the report?

I think not. Governments are not responsible for the content of newspapers, at least not in a democracy. Successive Israeli governments have suffered at the hands of the rumbunctious Israeli media, and would probably be the first to say they can't control it. The Swedish paper's report was irresponsible and antisemitic, but should not have turned into a diplomatic incident.

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