Updated Blood Libel Hits Mideast Papers, Airwaves

By Eric J. Greenberg

Published December 31, 2004, issue of December 31, 2004.
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In what seems like a creepy Islamist twist on a Hollywood horror movie, Israel and America are being accused of stealing body parts from defenseless Arab Muslims.

The charges, made in a newspaper article and in an unrelated television series airing in Iran, appear to underscore the vanishing distinction in the eyes of Islamic extremists between their enemy, “the Jews,” and their other adversary — American forces in Iraq.

Indeed, Iraqi insurgents and others have taken to calling American soldiers “Jews,” according to journalists covering the American war in Iraq.

In the latest development, an article originally published in Saudi Arabia’s government daily Al Watan on December 18 accused the U.S. military of harvesting and selling human organs in Iraq. Also this month, a dramatic weekly television series was launched on Iranian television depicting the Israeli government as stealing the eyes of Palestinian children for transplants.

Both items were translated into English and publicized by The Mid-

dle East Media Research Institute, a translation agency directed by Yigal Carmon, a former counterterrorism adviser to two Israeli prime ministers.

The Saudi article, written in Brussels by Fakhriya Ahmad, cites alleged secret European military reports that accuse American forces of trading in human organs from dead Iraqis.

“Secret European military intelligence reports indicate the transformation of the American humanitarian mission in Iraq into a profitable trade in the American markets, through the practice of American physicians extracting human organs from the dead and wounded, before they are put to death, for sale to medical centers in America,” Ahmad wrote.

The article, which also has appeared in the Syrian daily Teshreen and in the Iranian daily Jomhouri-ye Islami, claimed that a secret team of American physicians is tailing the troops to quickly extract organs. The article said the American doctors pay Iraqis $40 for every usable kidney and $25 for an eye.

Ahmad also claimed that Iraqi prisoners killed in “Abu Ghraib” and other prisons were forced to undergo operations for the purpose of extracting their organs.

“Following their mutilations, the bodies were discarded far from the prisons to conceal the facts,” Ahmad wrote.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Defense called the allegations “garbage.”

“Do we take body parts? Absolutely no,’’ LTC Barry Venable told the Forward on Tuesday. “We treat all remains with great respect. The facts are that any Iraqi bodies found are returned to family members or Iraqi authorities.”

Venable said the Defense Department believes Ahmad’s article began as a fictional editorial “that tried to use black comedy to symbolically describe how the U.S. is desperately trying to find something good to justify the war, in this case extracting the organs, shipping them home and providing them to the poor, in a Robin Hood kind of story.”

He said the story is making the rounds in the Arab press, but “hasn’t gained any traction in the Western press.”

Venable said the Pentagon has not taken any steps to counter the false allegations in the Arab world.

Meanwhile, according to Memri, the Iranian television drama, titled “For You, Palestine” or “Zahra’s Blue Eyes,” tells the story of Yitzhak Cohen, an Israeli candidate for prime minister who is also the military commander of the West Bank. Memri has put video clips on its Web site.

Based in Washington, Memri translates Arabic, Farsi and Hebrew media into English, and provides analysis of political, cultural and religious trends in the Middle East.

Set in Israel and the West Bank, the Iranian series opens with graphic scenes of surgery, and images of a Palestinian girl in a hospital, whose eyes have been removed, with bandages covering the sockets. The series was filmed in Farsi and dubbed into Arabic.

The first episode shows Israelis disguised as United Nations workers visiting a Palestinian school, ostensibly to examine the children’s eyes for diseases, but in reality to select which children’s eyes to steal for transplants.

Simultaneously, Cohen is seen lecturing a medical conference on the advances being made by Israeli medicine regarding organ transplants for the “benefits of mankind.”

In a speech, Cohen declares: “We are the best of the races in the world. Our land should extend from the Euphrates to the Nile.”

The second episode reveals that the Israeli president is being kept alive by organs stolen from Palestinian children, and an Israeli military commander is seen kidnapping United Nations employees and Palestinians.

In the third episode, obtained by the Forward on Tuesday, an Israeli doctor rejects several Palestinian children as “eye donors,” but adds ominously: “There were one or two with two good kidneys. I have written their numbers for the day we might need them,” according to the Memri translation.

The director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, issued a statement denouncing the series as “an example of the classical antisemitism that continues to fill the airwaves of the Middle East.”

Foxman added that “we are very much concerned that the Iranian series seems to suggest a copycat phenomenon is taking place in the Middle East media, since the Iranian series is literally taking cues from similar antisemitic series that have appeared in countries such as Lebanon and Egypt over the past few years.”

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