“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

The Guardian: ‘Brits harvest organs’.

with 8 comments

Yes, that is a sensationalist title and although the Guardian did not use it, it might have, had Brits been Israelis.

In another example of dodgy journalism coming out of the Guardian, they originally chose to run a by-line of “Israel admits harvesting Palestinian organs.”.

It was subsequently changed, but the Guardian’s original headline was rather revealing of the prejudices found at that newspaper. In the article you will notice that the pathologists took organs from nearly everyone.

But that alone would not make a sufficiently dramatic headline, nor does it point out that the Israelis themselves brought up this issue and investigated it in a TV programme. The evidence is a bit obvious as the sources are written in Hebrew, and I am sure that even Guardian journalists realise which nation has that as its language?

The problem is, that the Guardian did not make any effort to give this story any context because that would require a degree of objectivity and journalistic competence from the Guardian, which it does not have around the subject of Israel or Israelis, so instead the article is used to slate Israelis.

It could have simply said, that there were insensitive and clumsy pathologists extracting organs from dead bodies that crossed their paths, including Israelis, IDF soldiers, etc.

However, that would not have been enough to make it into an issue for a national paper, so it was dressed up to have a quick swipe at Israelis along the way.

This is territory where we have been before.

Older readers will remember that British doctors did this very same thing, but with children.

Even though the activities at Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool caused outrage, I doubt the Guardian would have run an article entitled “British harvest organs of young children”.

That is the type of headline more suitable for tabloids or other rags.

In fact, the Guardian has a section dealing with the Alder Hey issue, but contrast their carefully considered language there, as opposed to the startling by-line that sought to indict Israelis and only Israelis for this practice.

Rather than merely criticise pathologists involved the Guardian attempted to widen the accusation against all Israelis.

That is the problem, the Guardian can write considered and thoughtful articles on the Alder Hey scandal, but when a similar situation arises in Israel it is used as a political stick to beat Israelis with, and any notion of thoughtful journalism is thrown out of the window.

I do wish the Guardian would ditch these prejudices and go back to quality journalism.

Anyone interested in the history of Alder Hey children’s hospital and the organs removed from children, without permission, should read the Royal Liverpool Children’s Inquiry Report summary of key findings and the main recommendations, with the fuller findings here.

Update 1: Organ removal and the illegal storage of the body parts are still an issue in Britain, as the Torygraph reports:

“More than 200 hospitals have been instructed to account for all the organs and human tissue being held in mortuaries and pathology labs, because of concerns that body parts are being stored illegally, without the consent of bereaved relatives.

The HTA has ordered the probe after finding five cases in which bodies which had been examined for post-mortem were released for burial or cremation without their brains.”

Update 2: A section at the Scotsman newspaper shows how important this issue is as an on-going problem and the natural distress that it causes parents and families.

Update 3: The BBC news site has a piece from 1999 concerning Bristol hospital:

“The Bristol Childrens’ Heart Action Group, a parents’ campaign group, says the hospital removed and retained the hearts of at least 170 hearts from children who died in operations over a 12-year period.”

Also, Organ removal: the legal background from 1999 too.

Update 4: I came across a version of this story on msnbc, but it seems that the feed could have come directly from AP. It is possible that the Guardian “tidied” it up before publishing. Astute readers will notice the wording here, compared with the AP story:

“Israel has admitted pathologists harvested organs from dead Palestinians, and others, without the consent of their families – a practice it said ended in the 1990s – it emerged at the weekend.”

The Guardian could have written “a practice that ended in the 1990s”, but rather they chose “…a practice it said ended in the 1990s…”. Insinuating that it is not a fact, just that it was “said”. Same old tricks.

Update 5: If you want to see how the racists come out and use this topic you need to look no further than this Anthony Lerman article.

Update 6: Yaacov Lozowick has more:

“Antisemitic allegations almost always start from some grain of fact. What makes them antisemitic (or even merely slander) isn’t the original grain of truth but the edifice built on it. In the Rostom blood libel earlier this year the slander was that IDF forces were regularly killing Palestinians so as to harvest their organs. The grain of truth uncovered here (which actually isn’t news at all, it has been known in Israel for years, which is one reason Hiss no longer heads the Abu Kabir institute) has nothing to do with those allegations, and doesn’t substantiate them in any way.

Actually, what we’ve got here is a fine litmus test to discover antisemites. Anyone who spins the true story in the direction Rostom took it are essentially setting themselves up. They need to be asked why they took that particular grain of truth in that particular direction.”

8 Responses

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  1. Your comments are accurate. But additional points are:
    – “harvesting” is most often defined as removing LIVE organs for translant
    – China performs such harvesting on a massive scale, from prisoners, with nary a word from the Guardian and company
    – in western countries such organ scandals arise once every year or two
    – in Israel, the Abu Kabir scandal was revealed and acted upon a decade ago – and thus “Israel admits” is misleading. This is re-cycled news.
    – the misdeeds involved the bodies of far more Israelis than Palestnians
    – Hizbullah has been accused of the same or worse crimes vis-a-vis Christians, without much investigation.

    Just Curious

    22/12/2009 at 02:25

  2. Thanks JC, very salient points.


    22/12/2009 at 02:34

  3. Also, the Israeli government has held Abu Kabir open to inspection by foreign experts for almost a decade.

    Just Curious

    22/12/2009 at 02:37

  4. Please, do you have a link or 2 about Abu Kabir?

    I am not familiar with the background to it.


    22/12/2009 at 02:46

  5. Hmm I was reading the comments on a post about Montazeri in CiF (Yes I’m a masochist!) and a couple were sad that the Grauniad had not reported more on the Offal Libel.. Lo and behold!

    jams O'Donnell

    22/12/2009 at 12:03


    These aren’t the best but will give you more names to Google (such as Hiss).

    Hiss pushes the envelope but is at least competent. I remember a scandal or two in the US south in which hundreds of cases were in danger of reversal due to an entirely incompetent (but politically-connected) pathlogist.

    A scandal? Yes. Showing Israel evil? No. Showing Israel human just like the UK, the US, etc. Exactly as Zionist theory wanted it.

    Just Curious

    22/12/2009 at 15:35

  7. Thanks 🙂


    22/12/2009 at 16:32

  8. […] thought that the political activists within the StWC would have enough sense to walk away from the Offal libel, but apparently not. They are encouraging people to support Baroness Tonge by signing a petition, as […]

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