” In August 2009, Sweden’s largest daily Aftonbladet, a tabloid, published an article implying that the Israel Defense Forces kills Palestinians to provide the Israeli medical establishment with organs. The article was heavily criticized in the Swedish media, and several papers denounced it as anti-Semitic. The Swedish government refused to comment on the article, claiming legal factors prevented them. When the Swedish ambassador to Israel published a condemnation of the text, she was forced to retract it.
” In Israel the article stirred outrage and shock. The Israeli government demanded that its Swedish counterpart condemn the article. The Swedish government still refused to comment. As a consequence of the harsh official reactions in Israel, the debate in Sweden shifted, and Aftonbladet now portrayed itself as the defender of free speech against pressures from a foreign government.
” The affair created an echo in international media, and the Italian government tried to get the Swedish government to join it in a common condemnation of anti-Semitism. The Swedes still refused.
” Swedish-Israeli relations suffered from the affair. A planned visit to Israel by Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was canceled. Since Sweden held the rotating presidency of the European Union, the EU’s role as a broker in the Middle East peace process also suffered.