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Sweden's shame over Israeli 'organ theft' nonstory

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Freedom of speech is based on an open and vibrant marketplace of ideas. No journalist is immune from criticism for bigotry and defamation, even from high-ranking government officials.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredik Reinfeldt's claim that the Swedish Constitution prohibits government officials from commenting on false and defamatory press reports has been contradicted by the Swedish chancellor of justice, Goran Lambertz, who said the following:

"The government has considerable leeway in such matters. A minister can without risk say something along the lines of 'We have no reason to believe these allegations,' but would be contravening the Constitution if he or she actually criticized the decision to publish the article." Mr. Lambertz then offered his own opinion that the decision to not comment was a nod to political considerations, not to legal constraints.

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.)

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.

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