Body parts trade in Israel? Unfortunately, it’s not so clear.
[Warning–this may make your blood boil, so I suggest searching for other web information]
Counterpunch (www.counterpunch.org) is a pretty eclectic website, edited by left-wing Alexander Cockburn, which features people such as Uri Avineri in its stable of contributors alongside writers whose views range from reasonable to crackpot (e.g. Craig Paul Roberts, a libertarian former Reaganite functionary). There is no way of providing feedback to the site (at least on its free public version).
Every day, there are 4 or 5 lengthy essays, ranging from the crisis in the American financial system, to terror in Latin America, Afghanistan, to Palestine/Israel.
The discussions it has had of the body parts trade are highly controversial, but deserve to be carefully considered, because past scandals are documented in the Israeli media. I haven’t seen these reports raised elsewhere. At first, I was highly sceptical of the allegations in Sweden, because they seemed beyond belief, but now I am not so sure.

The first piece to be considered (and condemned) is that by Bouthaina Shabaan Political and Media Advisor at the Syrian Presidency). Her piece is a discussion of the trade in Palestinian body parts as alleged by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet [see this NYTimes report], and she alleges continuing traffic in Palestinian body parts. Direct links are made by her between this alleged traffic and the traffic in kidneys by criminal elements associated with the Syrian orthodox community in New York.
Unfortunately, these allegations have gone all around the internet, feeding anti-Semitism, even though the Swedish news report is deeply flawed.
The same allegations are discussed in a later article by Jonathan Cook, a journalist who lives in Nazareth and is highly critical of Israel as can be seen from his website
However, Cook des make an important observation that the Swedish paper and others … muddied the waters by trying to make a tenuous connection between the Palestinian families’ allegations about organ theft during unauthorized autopsies and the entirely separate revelations this month that a group of US Jews had been arrested for money-laundering and trading in body parts.
In continuing his commentary, however, Cook does raise the face of scandals concerned unauthorised body parts trade and autopsies of Israelis (including dead soldiers) and Palestinians in past decades. These autopsies were carried out by the forensic institute at Abu Kabir, near Tel Aviv. The Director of the Centre, the unfortunately named Dr Hiss was in fact engaged in a major scandal for his sale of body parts, and there is a history of such abuse going back to the 1950s involving dead Yemenite children (see Israel National News. Incredibly, Hiss has escaped punishment.
Further allegations of body parts trade are also detailed by Alison Weir in another article, demonstrating a terrible and well-documented break down in medical and social ethics by a number of people interested in making a lot of easy money when there is a shortage of organ donations. Organ harvesting has become big business with allegations of rings of people from poor countries as well as retarded people being exploited for the ‘business’.
For example Prof. Zaki Shapira, a leading transplant surgeon, had been arrested in Turkey and Israel for organ trafficking, though as far as I know, he has not been convicted. In another case, two Israeli Arabs were convicted in late 2007 for organ trafficking from Palestinian -Israeli mentally disabled people, and were associated with a gang that included an Israeli surgeon.
Regrettably, her article goes on to discuss controversial recent allegations about ritual murder in the Middle Ages, implying that various forms of human sacrifice are sanctioned for ritual purposes by Jews and this somehow also explains Zionism, Jewish racism, the occupation etc–a line of ‘logic’ I find contemptible.
Thus –appalling as it is to consider–that there is a business of body parts sale within Israel (involving Jews and Arabs and overseas brokers). The American scandal, while not necessarily associated, puts a terrible odour over the whole matter.
Israel has not handled the current allegations well in the media and has come out looking like a bully. Personally, I’d hope that there is quick clarification of the current situation, given the past, rotten history of unethical behaviour that can only give rise to further anti-Semitic commentary if it is not resolved, hopefully, in Israel’s favour.
The bodyparts business is international, in scope so it is also completely hypocritical to solely condemn Israel when it also occurs in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world where there is plenty of money a lack of scruple,a and plenty of poor people.
However, Israel has not handled the current allegations well in the media and has come out looking like a bully. It’s also another example where of selective reporting, because criminality has involved not not just Jews but Palestinians. This fact seems to have been forgotten in anti-Israeli propaganda.
This blog of course, is my opinion, and no one else’s, and should not be considered AJDS opinion.