Sweden flatly rejects Israeli request for media quiet
MRS/AA | August 21, 2009
Sweden has turned down a demand that it condemn the recent publication of an article that links Israeli soldiers to the death of Palestinian civilians with the motive of obtaining their organs.
In an article published earlier in the week, Sweden's best-selling daily Aftonbladet recounted grotesque incidents dating as far back as 1992 in which Israeli soldiers allegedly abducted Palestinian youths and returned their bodies mutilated a few days later.
The publication infuriated Israeli officials who labeled the news piece as 'blatantly racist' and full of 'vile anti-Semitic themes'.
In response to the publication, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on his Swedish counterpart, Carl Bildt, to officially rebut the 'shocking and appalling' piece.
Tel Aviv's envoy to Sweden, Benny Dagan, was to make a similar request during a Friday meeting with the kingdom's deputy foreign minister.
Bildt, however, responded that he would not condemn the article, asserting that such a measure would be in violation of freedom of expression and counter to the Swedish constitution.
Condemnation of anti-Semitism is "the only issue on which there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish parliament", the Swedish minister wrote in a blog post on Thursday, apparently rejecting the idea that disapproving criminal conduct amounts to anti-Semitism.
The Swedish refusal to denounce the allegations against the Israeli army by the high-circulation daily may shake diplomatic ties between Tel Aviv and Stockholm.
There is media speculation that Israel might respond by canceling the Swedish foreign minister's visit to the occupied West Bank scheduled for the next 10 days.