JERUSALEM, Israel - Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon asked the Swedish government to issue an official censure of a newspaper article accusing Israeli soldiers of killing Palestinians to sell their organs, calling it "outright blood libel."
Entitled, "They Plunder the Organs of our Sons," the article in Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper on Tuesday suggested that such allegations may precipitate an investigation against the Jewish state for "international war crimes."
Ayalon demanded that "the Swedish government condemn this groundless article."
The Swedish government "cannot wash its hands of this," Ayalon said, despite the fact that the newspaper is privately owned.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called the article "racist hysteria at its worst."
"No one should tolerate such a demonizing piece of medieval blood libel that surely encourages hate crimes against the Jews," Palmor said. "This is a shame to freedom of expression and all Swedes should reject it unconditionally," he said.
In response, Sweden's ambassador to Israel, Elisabet Borslin Bonnier, posted a statement on the embassy's Web site:
"The article in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet is as shocking and appalling to Swedes as it is to Israel citizens," the ambassador stated.
"We share the dismay expressed by Israeli government representatives, media and the Israeli public. This embassy cannot but clearly distance itself from it.
"Just as in Israel, freedom of the press prevails in Sweden. However, freedom of the press and freedom of expression are freedoms that carry a certain responsibility. It falls on the editor-in-chief of any given newspaper," the ambassador's statement concluded.