"Irresponsible hate speech cloaked as journalism"

26 Aug 2009 by CST

Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, has written an excellent open letter concerning the 'Aftonbladet' controversy, in which Sweden's largest daily paper alleged that Israeli soldiers "harvested" the organs of Palestinians.

Kantor's letter includes important points that sections of the British media could also learn from. For example:

"...The bitter lessons of our shared history teaches us that there is a short distance between “anything goes” under cloak of “freedom of speech” to actions of incitement and violence. In our recent history, for example, it was all too common for similar, unsubstantiated stories against Jews to be printed, which gave credence to the worst atrocities of mankind. Precisely because of that shared history and experience, as Europeans, we can not accept this type of irresponsible hate speech cloaked as journalism...

"...Words have the power to uplift us, to inspire us and to improve the world around us. But when used irresponsibly, they have the power to stir hatred and violence. And that is the problem at the crux of this matter...

"...as recent trends throughout Europe have shown, unacceptable incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are all too real, and in several European nations, including Sweden, are regrettably on the rise...

"... Yes, freedom of speech is a hallmark of rational and free governments and people. But members of the media have an added responsibility – to fact check and to exercise caution before printing any unsubstantiated article – no matter how many newspapers it may sell. Too many times, incitement and blood libel have masqueraded as “articles” with horrific consequences. Therefore, I implore you as educated, rational European brothers and sisters, to demand responsibility and credibility from your reporters, their editors and their publishers...".

Kantor concludes with, "Otherwise, the sacred institution of freedom of speech will be worth nothing more than something to wrap our fish in."

The entire letter can be read, here.


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“Since 2003, CST has been a stalwart supporter of ODIHR in its efforts to effectively monitor antisemitic hate crime in the OSCE Region. With its rigorous methodology and innovative partnerships with the British police, it is viewed by many as representing the gold standard for NGO responses to all forms of hate crime. I wish CST all success in its exciting new phase of work.”

Michael Georg Link
OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights