For months, the government of Israel has demanded the retraction of a story by a Swedish paper that said that Israeli doctors had harvested the organs from dead Palestinians without the consent of their families. The Israeli government canceled visits to Sweden and called the article anti-Semitic. Now, the Guardian is running a new story that says that the allegations are true.
The Guardian says that Israel now admits that it did harvest the organs – a practice that it said ended in the 1990s. The admission was made by the former head of the country’s forensic institute, Dr, Yehuda Hiss. The interview was actually done by an American academic in 2000 and said that doctors at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives. The interview was released by Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley.
Her most recent books are: Commodifying Bodies (co-edited with Loic Waquant), 2002, London: Sage (Theory, Culture and Society series). (Commodifying Bodies will appear later this year in an Italian edition with Ombre Courte, Verona, Italia); and Violence in War and Peace: an Anthology (co-edited with Philippe Bourgois), 2003, London and Malden, Mass: Basil Blackwell.
Scheper-Hughes has conducted research, written on, and been politically engaged in topics ranging from AIDS and human rights in Cuba, death squads and the extermination of street kids in Brazil, the Catholic Church, clerical celibacy, and child sex abuse, to the repatriation of the brain of a famous Yahi Indian, Ishi (kept as a specimen in the Smithsonian Institution) to the Pit River people of Northern California. Her most recent research is a multi-sited ethnographic study of the global traffic in humans for their organs which she interprets as a form of invisible and sacrificial violence. Her next book, The Ends of the Body: the Global Traffic in Organs, is to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
She is co-founder and Director of Organs Watch, a medical human rights project and she is currently an advisor to the World Health Organization (Geneva) on issues related to global transplantation. Scheper-Hughes has lectured internationally and has been a research professor in residence at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences in Paris in 1993 (and will take up that post again in the fall of 2004).
Notably, Hiss was removed from his post in 2004 when some details about organ harvesting were first reported.
What is now missing is an explanation of the Israeli government’s months of protestations and attacks regarding the original article — when it appears to have known about this program.
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