Field of Science

Israeli official lectures Swedish government on the meaning of a free press

The irony kills me.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman doesn't seem to understand what it means to have a free press. Just like the days when the Danish Prime Minister was asked to censor Jyllands-Posten for publishing the drawings on Muhammad, now, despite Lieberman's request, Sweden's Foreign Ministry is refusing to condemn an article (CNN, BBC, Politiken) published in a Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, in which Israeli troops are accused of harvesting organs from dead Palestinians (original article in Swedish).
"It's a shame that after the Swedish ambassador to Israel did the right thing and condemned the report, clarifying that this newspaper does not represent Sweden in any way or form, the Swedish Foreign Ministry chose to dismiss her statement instead of supporting it," Lieberman said.

"The meaning of freedom of press is the freedom to publish the truth, not the freedom to lie and slander. A country which really wants to defend democratic values must strongly condemn false reports that reek of anti-Semitism like the one published this week by the Aftonbladet newspaper."
The free press in Scandinavia is really free. Without fear of government intervention of any kind, they really can write whatever they want. Private parties can sue them for libel, but the government is never involved. I find it ironic that Lieberman here thinks he is in any position to tell the Swedes what it means to have a free press. As for his insinuation that the article is not the truth, it is baffling that he suggests that the Swedish government should believe his word on the matter, without any prior assessment of the facts.

The free-lance author of the op-ed article (need i say 'of course') received threats on his life:
"I have an e-mail here ... saying, 'The Nazis should die and you will be next. We will meet you outside, you will be the next news very soon. Meet you outside,' " Bostrom said.
Just to be fair and balanced I am now looking for death threats made by Danish and Swedish citizens against other nationals writing articles criticizing anything Danish or Swedish, or drawing indecent cartoons of Jesus or our royalty (actually, Danish people take pride in doing just that themselves - see below).

Here's a Turkish drawing from 2005 of then Danish prime minister Fogh Rasmussen in bed with Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. Fogh Rasmussen said his honor had been challenged, and then ordered a nuclear attack on Ankara.

Oh wait. Strike that. It says he just shook his head a bit and laughed about it.


Queen Margrethe (center, smoking, as usual).

Danish roligan stops evolution? Looks like Fogh Rasmussen third from the left. That's probably not a coincidence.

Still looking...

Update 8/28: A lawsuit has been filed against Aftonbladet.


  1. The problem with what you said it that your are wrong.
    When the caricatures that depicted Prophet Mohammed were published in the Jutland newspaper, the Swedish foreign minister sent a letter of protest to the Danish president.

    Victor Post

  2. Victor, could you document this? I have spent some time looking for a reference to that, but have not come up with anything.


    P.S. Denmark does not have a president, but a prime minister.

  3. Wikipedia has an extensive timeline of the events following the first publications of the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten.

    Nowhere there does it say anything about a communication of any sort between any Swedish minister and the Danish prime minister.


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