And now we have an excellent test case. A Swedish newspaper is actually accusing the IDF of harvesting Palestinians for their organs, a new twist on the classic blood libel that has rival papers calling them out for anti-Semitism.
But the liberal Sydsvenskan - southern Sweden's major daily - had harsh criticism for the rival paper, running an opinion piece under the headline "Antisemitbladet" (a play on the name Aftonbladet [the paper which published the original accusation]).
"We have heard the story before, in one form or the other. It follows the traditional pattern of conspiracy theory: a great number of loose threads that the theorist tempts the reader to tie into a neat knot without having been provided with any proven connection whatsoever," writes leading columnist Mats Skogkär of Sydsvenskan.
"Whispers in the dark. Anonymous sources. Rumors. That is all it takes. After all we all know what they [the IDF] are like, don't we: inhuman, hardened. Capable of anything," the opinion piece says. "Now all that remains is the defense, equally predictable: 'Anti-Semitism' No, no, just criticism of Israel."
Are they right? I think the paper is engaging in pretty classic anti-Semitic conspiracy mongering. But perhaps this, too, is just "criticism of Israel"?
I suppose there is an out here -- the article ties the accusations to the recent arrest of an Orthodox Jew in New Jersey accused of brokering a kidney sale. So it's tied to Jews, not just Israel. And the cognitive dissonance survives another day.
UPDATE: Apparently the author of the piece has been walking down this road for quite some time now.
UPDATE #2: But of course he's "no anti-Semite". They never are.
UPDATE #3: A must-read post by Barry Rubin.