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Opinion

Sweden's shame over Israeli 'organ theft' nonstory

Why won't its government condemn the outrageous article that accused Israeli soldiers of harvesting Palestinian organs?

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Recall that virtually all government officials in Europe went out of their way to criticize and condemn the depiction of cartoons that offended some Muslims by portraying Muhammad. (More recently, the Yale Press withdrew these cartoons and other classic art depicting Muhammad out of fear of violent reaction.)

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Without getting into the business of comparative offensiveness, no reasonable person could argue that depicting a long-dead religious figure comes anywhere close to falsely accusing contemporary Jews of murdering innocent Palestinians to steal their organs.

The reality is that the Swedish government simply does not want to get into a fight with the Muslim world, much as it didn't want to get into a fight with the Nazis during World War II. Sweden seems willing to sell out the Jews in the name of neutrality, or in this case, in the false name of freedom of expression. Its silence is contemptible.

As a Jew, but also as a strong defender of freedom of speech I am offended by Sweden's craven complicity with evil . Freedom of speech carries with it certain obligations as well. One of those is to condemn false speech. The best answer to false speech is not censorship, it is truthfulness.

By remaining silent in the face of the outrageous and unproven accusations contained in the Aftonbladet article, the Swedish prime and foreign ministers inevitably create the impression that they sympathize with the writer, and perhaps even with his conclusions – or, at the very least, that they don't care enough to disassociate themselves from anti-Jewish defamation.

Mr. Reinfeldt and Mr. Bildt, too, have freedom of speech, which they have exercised on many occasions. By choosing not to exercise it on this occasion – or even worse, by exercising it to criticize the Swedish ambassador to Israel for her condemnation of the article – they become facilitators of bigotry. They should be ashamed of themselves. Their country should be ashamed of them. And if their country is not ashamed of them, then every decent person in the world should be ashamed of Sweden.

Silence in the face of evil is not an option. As Edmund Burke reminded us many years ago: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." To that I may add, "or say nothing." The time has come for Swedish officials to tell the world what they really think of this blood libel.

Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter professor of law at Harvard Law School. His latest book is "The Case Against Israel's Enemies: Exposing Jimmy Carter and Others Who Stand in the Way of Peace." A version of this piece appeared earlier at FrontPageMag.com .