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Claims of Israeli organ harvesting in Haiti, in the context of Israel's humanitarian mission following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, were made in the Iranian and Arab media, by Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, and on various anti-Israel websites. The charges led to UK lawmaker Jenny Tonge, Baroness Tonge being sacked from her post as Liberal Democrats health spokesperson, after she suggested that Israel set up an inquiry to investigate them.

Background[edit]

Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Israel dispatched a rescue team to Haiti consisting of 220 professional doctors and rescue workers, two rescue planes loaded with equipment, and a field hospital, including operating rooms, intensive care units and X-ray equipment to take care of the injured.[1][2] IsraAid, an Israeli humanitarian organization, sent a 15-person search-and-rescue team, which included emergency medical staff.[3] Israeli disaster response organization ZAKA dispatched a six person team to assist with identification, extraction and rescue of victims.[4], and Magen David Adom established field clinics in cooperation with local rescue groups and as part of a larger American Red Cross mission.[5]

The Israel Defense Forces set up a satellite communications room with phone and wireless internet access, and video conference systems so surgeons working in the field hospital could contact medical experts back in Israel.[6] Following a request from the United States and the United Nations, the Israel Police sent dozens of officers to join peacekeeping forces in Haiti, joining a group of Israel Police forensic investigators who flew to Haiti with the IDF's Home Front Command and medical team to assist in the identification of earthquake casualties shortly after the quake.[7][8]

The Israeli humanitarian effort received widespread attention and praise for promptness and efficiency, from news channels CNN, CBS and Sky News, other rescue delegations, and former US President Bill Clinton.[9]

Development[edit]

On 19 January 2010, a video was posted to YouTube by a Seattle, Washington resident known only as "T. West" claiming to speak for "AfriSynergy Productions", a group whose declared goal is to empower the black man.[citation needed] In the video, which focused on the Haiti disaster, West repeated the false claims that the IDF stole organs in the past from Palestinians and others. He asserted that there is very little oversight during such tragedies, and that the Haitian people must beware of international medical groups who arrived in the country "for the money." He asserted that there are members of the search-and-rescue teams operating in Haiti who do not have a conscience, including the IDF.[10]

The following day, Iranian state-run news channel Press TV published an article titled "Israel harvesting organs in Haiti?", reporting on West's YouTube video with the lead-in: "While media reports from Haiti express amazement at Israel's well-equipped medical delegation to the quake-stricken nation, some critics have warned against organ theft."[11] The same day, the article was posted on the website of Dubai network Al Jazeera.[12]

In a speech on 22 January, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said "There have been news reports that the Zionist regime, in the case of the catastrophe of Haiti, and under the pretext of providing relief to the people of Haiti, is stealing the organs of these wretched people."[13]

On 27 January, Syrian TV broadcast a televised debate on the topic. A participating reporter said that the Israeli organ theft was "confirmed" by T. West, and mistakenly claimed that West's YouTube video showed Israelis stealing organs from the earthquake victims. Dr. Jassem Zakariya, credited as Professor of International Relations at Damascus University, said, "As we see, the Jew has not changed [since Shylock] – especially the Zionist Jews, who are now gathered in the so-called 'Israel,' which is the largest concentration in history of war criminals, who committed crimes against humanity." Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Al-Habash, from the Department of Transplantation at Al-Mouassat University Hospital, stated that Israel had also stolen organs from Croatia and from prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.[14]

West's YouTube video was also reported on by Hezbollah's Al-Manar television's website[15] and American politician David Duke repeated the allegations.[16]

Boston blogger Steven Lendman repeated the claim in an article he wrote in The Palestine Telegraph titled “Focus on Israel: Harvesting Haitian Organs”. The article referenced Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV citing West's YouTube video.[17]

Jenny Tonge[edit]

Jenny Tonge, Baroness Tonge, Member of the United Kingdom House of Lords, Liberal Democrat Health Spokeswoman and patron of The Palestine Telegraph, told The Jewish Chronicle there should be an inquiry into claims that Israeli troops sent there after the earthquake were trafficking organs.[18][19]

To prevent allegations such as these - which have already been posted on You Tube - going any further, the IDF and the Israeli Medical Association should establish an independent inquiry immediately to clear the names of the team in Haiti.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg dismissed Tonge from her post as health spokeswoman, saying that her comments were "wrong, distateful and provocative".[18][17]

Following discussions with the leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, Lord McNally, I have decided that Jenny Tonge will stand down as Liberal Democrat health spokesperson in the Lords following her unacceptable comments suggesting an inquiry into highly offensive allegations against the IDF humanitarian operation in Haiti,” The comments were wrong, distasteful and provocative and I recognise the deep and understandable distress they have caused to the Jewish community. While I do not believe that Jenny Tonge is anti-semitic or racist, I regard her comments as wholly unacceptable. Jenny Tonge apologises unreservedly for the offence she has caused.

Tonge stated that she was influenced to make the comments by Lendman's blog.[20]

In a correspondence posted on an anti-Israel activism message board, Tonge blamed the situation on Jewish Chronicle editor Stephen Pollard.[17]

This is total rubbish, as usual! Palestine Telegraph last week had a long piece by a Jewish American on the subject of organ donation – not an editorial piece. It said there were postings on YouTube about organ harvesting in Haiti by the large team sent out by Israel to help! The JC asked for a comment, as I am a patron of the Palestine Telegraph. I actually congratulated Israel for their prompt response to the disaster and said that if allegations were being made they should conduct an inquiry to dispel any rumors. OK? It is quite ludicrous – organs would be useless in that situation anyway and it is a nonsense suggestion. Trouble is he [Stephen Pollard] has now SPREAD a silly allegation and done untold damage to a really great effort by the Israelis.

Palestine Telegraph editor Maysaa Jarour wrote that Tonge's sacking "is a clear sign of the political power that the Pro Israeli [sic] Lobby have over all political leaders and the... Liberal Democratic party. This does not stop here in the UK but also extends throughout the US and the EU..."[21]

In 2004, Tonge was fired as a party spokeswoman on children's issues after suggesting she could consider becoming a suicide bomber, had she been Palestinian.[22]

Other comments[edit]

Abraham Foxman of the anti-Defamation League wrote in The Miami Herald that the affair highlighted the problem that the internet allows bigots to spread hateful messages with greater speed and ease. "While the First Amendment protects essentially all hate speech, except that of direct threats against specific people, it does not mean that we should accept hate on the Internet as something that we are powerless to confront. There is a role to play for Internet users, Internet companies, educators and parents. We need to identify and develop practical solutions to the pressing issue of online hate, so that the extremists do not get the upper hand. The challenge is how to tame the Wild Wild West while adhering to the First Amendment."[23]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Israeli search and rescue delegation departs to Haiti". Retrieved 2010-01-14. 
  2. ^ Israelis rescue top Haitian official (January 17, 2010) in Israel 21c Innovation News Service Retrieved 2010–01–18
  3. ^ "Israel sends aid as Haiti braces for massive death toll in quake - Haaretz - Israel News". Haaretz. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  4. ^ "One Israeli Still Missing in Haiti Earthquake - Defense/Middle East - Israel News". Israel National News. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  5. ^ "Magen David Adom delegation to leave for Haiti Sunday". Ynetnews. Retrieved 2010-01-16. 
  6. ^ "IDF communications room a lifeline for many". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2010-01-20. 
  7. ^ "Abie Nathan's daughter makes contact". Ynet News. Retrieved 2010-01-15. 
  8. ^ Lappin, Yaakov , “UN, US ask Israel to send cops to Haiti” (Jan 21, 2010), The Jerusalem Post, Retrieved 2010-01-21
  9. ^ Israel Praised For Its Rescue Work In Haiti, The Philadelphia Bulletin 23-01-2010
  10. ^ Anti-Semitic video against Israel team in Haiti, Ynet News 20-01-2010
  11. ^ Israel harvesting organs in Haiti?, Press TV 20-01-2010
  12. ^ Israel harvesting organs in Haiti?, Al Jazeera 20-01-2010
  13. ^ Iranian Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami: US Occupied Haiti; Reports That Israeli Relief Delegation Is Stealing Organs, MEMRITV, Clip No. 2361 - Transcript, January 22, 2010.
  14. ^ Syrian TV and Organ Transplant Experts: Israel Reminiscent of Shylock, Engages in Organ Trafficking in Haiti and Worldwide, MEMRITV, Clip No. 2370, January 20, 2010.
  15. ^ (French)Houbballah, G. (2010-01-20). "Après ceux des Palestiniens,"Israël" voleraient les organes des Haïtiens...!". Al-Manar. Retrieved 9 February 2010. 
  16. ^ "Israeli Organ Theft Scandal". DavidDuke.com. 2010-02-05. Retrieved 5 February 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c 'Haiti organ harvesting claims false', Jerusalem Post 14-02-2010
  18. ^ a b Lib Dem health spokeswoman sacked, BBC News 12-02-2010
  19. ^ UK lawmaker fired for anti-Israel comments, Associated Press 14-02-2010
  20. ^ Jenny Tonge and 'organ harvesting': this woman is scary, The Telegraph 12-02-2010
  21. ^ The rise and fall of Baroness Jenny Tonge A True Friend of Palestine, Palestine Telegraph 14-02-2010
  22. ^ U.K. lawmaker 'fired over claims IDF harvested organs in Haiti', Haaretz 14-02-2010
  23. ^ Bigotry moves its menace to Internet, Miami Herald 29-01-2010