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One of the preposterous charges made against Israel by the Palestinians is that the Jewish state “harvests the organs” from dead Palestinians. This is a variant on the medieval blood libel that accused Jews of using the blood of Christian children in making matzos. Think of Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln, and William of Norwich — two children whose deaths were falsely attributed to Jews wanting to use their blood, which led to pogroms being unleashed against local Jewry in medieval England. But the Palestinian charge was apparently not preposterous enough for the Washington Post, which reported the charge as if it could possibly true, instead of holding it up as an absurd antisemitic libel.
Robert Spencer wrote about this briefly here, and more on the Washington Post’s reporting on the “IDF harvests Palestinian Organs” story can be found here: “Washington Post Reprints Depraved Claim that Israel Steals Palestinian Organs,” by Sean Durns, Algemeiner, January 10, 2024:
…The Washington Post prides itself on “courageous journalism” and speaking “truth to power,” but a recent report promoted an age-old antisemitic canard. The Dec. 26, 2023, dispatch, “The World Wants a Respite for Gaza. Israel Vows to Keep on Fighting,” regurgitated the claim that Jews steal organs of non-Jews.
As CAMERA’s Ricki Hollander has documented, such “blood libels and conspiracy theories have played a tragic role in Jewish history” and are responsible for inciting anti-Jewish violence. And now you can find them printed in the pages of The Washington Post.
“Palestinian officials,” the Post wrote, “said Tuesday that Israel had returned the bodies of 80 people it had held during the Gaza War via the Karem Shalom border crossing. The Hamas-run government media office said Israel had not identified the bodies or said where they had been taken from. They had been ‘mutilated,’ the media office said in a statement, and there were ‘clear’ indications that organs had been ‘stolen’ from the corpses.”
“The claims,” the Post added, “could not be independently verified.”…
The Post said the organ-harvesting charge “could not be independently verified.” Was that really enough? The Post ought to have written the following: “The charge that the IDF has ‘stolen’ organs from the corpses of Palestinians harks back to the medieval libels accusing Jews of killing Christian children and using their blood to make matzos, which led to pogroms against Jews. There has never been a proven case of organ-harvesting by the IDF in the entire history of Israel. Furthermore, it would have made no sense for the IDF to have handed over corpses from which organs had been removed. Had there been such harvesting of organs, the corpses would never have been turned over.”
The Post, like many other media outlets, has consistently repeated the casualty figures put out by Hamas, without questioning their accuracy. For example, we are now told by the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health that there have been 23,000 Gazans killed in the war so far, “most of them women and children.” How do we know that the figure provided by the Hamas-run Ministry of Health is accurate? The answer is: we have no way of knowing. Nor do we know if “most of those killed” were in fact women and children. But we do know one thing: Hamas routinely exaggerates the numbers of Palestinian civilians who are killed.
Two examples of such wild exaggeration should suffice. In the so-called “Jenin massacre” in 2002, Hamas claimed that the IDF had killed “500 civilians.” It later turned out, as confirmed by American and other Western intelligence agencies, that there had been 52 Palestinians, not 500, killed, and that of the 52 at least 45 were terrorists. And 23 Israeli soldiers died in that brutal fight that was very far from being a “massacre of Palestinians.”
A second example of Hamas’ lies dates from October 17, when there was an explosion near the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza. Hamas announced that an Israeli airstrike had hit the hospital, killing 500 civilians. The real story soon came out: instead of an Israeli airstrike, a rocket launched from Gaza by Palestinian Islamic Jihad had misfired, landing not on the hospital, but on the parking lot next to the hospital. And not 500, but between 10 and 50 civilians were killed. American intelligence confirmed this version. But even today, Hamas continues to insist that there were “500 civilians” killed in an Israeli airstrike on the hospital. To repeat: it was not an Israeli airstrike by a misfired rocket launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It did not land on the hospital but in a parking lot. It did not kill 500, but between 10 and 50 civilians.
Of course, the biggest lie from Hamas is the continued denial that the group committed any atrocities on October 7; for Hamas wants us still to believe that its operatives fought only IDF soldiers. It can’t, after all, own up to being responsible for the beheading of babies, the burning alive of children, the gang-rape, torture, and murder of girls, the slicing off of women’s breasts, the gouging out of eyes and cutting off of genitalia from men, the children murdered in front of their parents, and the parents in front of their children. None of that happened in Hamas’ version, in which those of its operatives who took part in the “resistance” that day astonished the world by their bravery in taking on, and besting, the mighty IDF.
But by peddling a medieval blood libel, the Post has crossed the Rubicon, illustrating that, much like Hamas, there is seemingly no depth to their actions and capriciousness.
The Post’s decision to willingly reprint Hamas propaganda runs counter to how the newspaper often treats statements by Israel Defense Force officials. As CAMERA has highlighted, the IDF is often treated with not-so-thinly veiled suspicion, and its assertions are often presented with distrust, even contempt. Hamas, however, gets a pass….
For example, when the IDF was still investigating the death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the Post ignored that investigation and reported, as fact, what one of its journalists, Rana Ayyub, tweeted: “This is a murder in cold blood by Israel. Shireen was one of those journalists who documented the everyday brutality by the Israeli forces for the world, a generation of viewers grew up watching her dogged reporting from Palestine. Will the world speak up?”
Ayyub’s claim was promptly retweeted by Post columnist Karen Attiah. This led an independent journalist, Armin Rosen, to comment that “two Washington Post staffers [were] spreading what amounts to a conspiracy theory before any of the most relevant facts are in.”
The Washington Post should now publish a piece on the persistence of the “blood libel” against Jews, from medieval times to the latest baseless claim by Hamas that the IDF “harvested organs” from dead Palestinians. It should clearly state that there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim, instead of writing that “the claims could not be independently verified.” That suggests that those claims might indeed be valid.
But given the heavy representation of Palestinian and other Arab journalists on its staff, and the paper’s long record of anti-Israel animus, it is likely to leave that claim about Israel harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians out there in the ether, not “independently verified” but also not denounced, as it ought to be by the Post, as dangerous nonsense that harks back to the antisemitic blood libels of the past. The Washington Post’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians has been shameful for a long time, but its report on the claim by Hamas that Israel has been harvesting organs of dead Palestinians takes the outrage to a whole new level of malice.