by Alison Weir
A few weeks ago, following my article in CounterPunch "Israeli Organ Harvesting: The New 'Blood Libel'?"(now available in Spanish, French, and Italian), the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs asked me to write a piece on this topic for their publication.
In conducting research for this -- largely from Israeli media, Congressional testimony, BBC reports, etc -- I found considerably more information.
As a result, I have now produced two new footnoted articles -- one that is in the print edition of the November Washington Report (I urge people to subscribe to the magazine in order to get this shorter, more concise article) and a longer one that is on their website:
Following are some excerpts from the website version:
Nancy Scheper-Hughes is Chancellor’s Professor of Medical Anthropology at the University of California Berkeley, the founder of Organ Watch, and the author of scholarly books and articles on organ trafficking. She is the pundit mainstream media call upon when they need expert commentary on the topic.5
While Scheper-Hughes emphasizes that traffickers and procurers come from numerous nations and ethnicities, including Americans and Arabs, she is unflinchingly honest in speaking about the Israeli connection:
“Israel is at the top,” she states. “It has tentacles reaching out worldwide.”
* * *
... In her Forum 13 lecture Scheper-Hughes discussed the two motivations of Israeli traffickers. One was greed, she said. The other was somewhat chilling: “Revenge, restitution—reparation for the Holocaust.”
She described speaking with Israeli brokers who told her “it’s kind of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. We’re going to get every single kidney and liver and heart that we can. The world owes it to us.’”
* * *
... For many years the Israeli health system subsidized its citizens’ “transplant holidays,” ... In addition, Israel’s Ministry of Defense was directly involved.
* * *
... Journalist Khalid Amayreh, recently investigating this topic further, found that “several other Palestinians gave a similar narrative, recounting how they received the bodies of their murdered relatives, mostly men in their early twenties, with vital organs taken away by the Israeli authorities.”
Israel has consistently characterized such accusations as “anti-Semitic,” and numerous other journalists have discounted them as exaggerations.
However, according to the pro-Israel Forward magazine, the truth of these charges was, in fact, confirmed by an Israeli governmental investigation a number of years ago.
* * *
... In 1996, Jewish Week reported that Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, a leader of the Lubavitch sect of Judaism and the dean of a religious Jewish school in a West Bank settlement, stated: “If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that.” Ginzburgh elaborated: “Jewish life has infinite value. There is something infinitely more holy and unique about Jewish life than non-Jewish life.” [The Jewish Week, April 26, 1996, pp. 12, 31]
* * *
Still in denial?
Finally, it is interesting that some writers with friendly and family ties to Israel, who are slowly overcoming their denial on Israeli war crimes, still quite often leap to Israel's defense against evidence of Israeli wrongdoing.
Some of these bloggers attempt to cover up Israeli actions by alleging that facts in some of my articles are incorrect -- for example, like other Israel partisans, some claim that Israeli Professor Ariel Toaff, a preeminent Israeli historian who wrote a book initially suggesting that there had apparently been cases of ritual killings of Christians during the Middle Ages (after massive pressure he later recanted) is actually -- they allege -- not an expert.
However, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz and other Israeli sourcees refer to Dr. Toaff as "an international expert on Italian Jewry," "an expert on the history of medieval Italian Jewry", "who is considered an international expert on Italian Jewry", "one of the greatest scholars in his field'", "the university also reiterated that Toaff was among the senior lecturers in his field in Israel and internationally"; reviews of earlier books noted his "scholarly rigour" and stated, "Toaff is the acknowledge master of the social history of Umbrian Jewry"
It is interesting to note that Professor Toaff, who is also a rabbi, initially said: "I will not give up my devotion to the truth and academic freedom even if the world crucifies me." Following multiple and diverse threats, he recanted.
Ha'aretz reports some of Toaff's statements:
"I tried to show that the Jewish world at that time was also violent, among other things because it had been hurt by Christian violence," the Bar-Ilan history professor said. Of course I do not claim that Judaism condones murder. But within Ashkenazi Judaism there were extremist groups that could have committed such an act and justified it," he said...
"Over many dozens of pages I proved the centrality of blood on Passover," Toaff said. "Based on many sermons, I concluded that blood was used, especially by Ashkenazi Jews, and that there was a belief in the special curative powers of children's blood. It turns out that among the remedies of Ashkenazi Jews were powders made of blood."
Although the use of blood is prohibited by Jewish law, Toaff says he found proof of rabbinic permission to use blood, even human blood. "The rabbis permitted it both because the blood was already dried," and because in Ashkenazi communities it was an accepted custom that took on the force of law, Toaff said. There is no proof of acts of murder, Toaff said, but there were curses and hatred of Christians, and prayers inciting to cruel vengeance against Christians. "There was always the possibility that some crazy person would do something."
As I wrote earlier, people who wish to take the time to delve into this further and to determine whether or not Toaff's evidence supported his initial conclusions can read an unauthorized translation of his book here. (This book, despite an enthusiastic review by Italian Jewish historian Sergio Luzzatto, was withdrawn by Toaff following pressure from the Israeli Knesset, the ADL, death threats, etc.)
Unfortuntely, his new, revised book has not yet been translated into English. In the meantime, parts of it are available. For example, Toaff's detailed description of the attacks on him and his defense of his work is available here. It is well worth scanning.
Ha'aretz reported that, at least before his book came out, "Faculty members described Toaff as a unique lecturer who is well-liked by students."
(By the way, it's probably worthwhile to point out that despite the immense focus from some quarters on Toaff, information on his book and the massive attacks on him were actually a minor part of my CounterPunch article; he is not even mentioned in my recent ones. People who wish to look into this further might wish to view this analysis of Toaff's research.)