Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth -

Organ theft: Not a blood libel, a wake-up call

Remember the row a few years back about the Swedish newspaper that printed the “blood libel” about body parts from Palestinian corpses being harvested by Israel. That controversy managed to overlook entirely the fact that Israel’s long-time chief pathologist, Yehuda Hiss, the man who carried out all post-mortems in Israel for two decades, had a proven history of organ theft.

I tried to write about this aspect of the story at the time but found no newspaper, including the Guardian, would touch it. You can see the original article, from 2009, here:

Now, it emerges, the authorities have sacked Hiss, more than a decade after he was first discovered to have harvested body parts from at least 125 bodies. In fact, the affair only came to light because the organ theft was carried out on Israeli soldiers, in violation of the wishes of the families, including religious families who believe every blood cell of their loved one must be buried.

What we don’t know but can guess with a degree of certainty is that, if Hiss was so ready to abuse the bodies of Jewish soldiers, he was undoubtedly doing the same to the bodies of Palestinians brought to his laboratory. The difference was that the Palestinian families, unlike the Jewish families, had no ability to hold Hiss accountable.

(Hiss carried out the organ theft, it seems, for what he considered noble reasons: a severe shortage of body parts in Israel meant there were not enough for medical students to practise on.)

The other disturbing aspect to this story is that, although Hiss was first found to have stolen body parts in 2000 (and carried on doing so, by all accounts), he continued as chief pathologist until his recent dismissal.

So not so much a blood libel as a wake-up call Israel has chosen to ignore for many years.

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