Silvan Shalom: Bostrom's invitation 'shameful'

Shalom Bostroms invita

By REBECCA BASKIN
November 1, 2009 23:01
2 minute read.

 
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Protesters at Ben Gurion Airport called for the immediate expulsion of Swedish journalist Donald Bostrom, a Swedish journalist who arrived Sunday to attend the Dimona Media Conference. Bostrom shocked Israelis and Jews around the world in August with a story that appeared in the Swedish paper Aftonbladet that accused IDF soldiers of kidnapping Palestinians to steal their organs. Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, who is also minister for development of the Negev and the Galilee, canceled his appearance at the Dimona conference to protest Bostrom's presence, which he called "a shameful event." He has also withdrawn his ministry's funding for Monday's conference, which totalled some NIS 200,000. "I am not prepared to participate a conference that gives voice to an enemy of Israel such as Bostrom," he told Ynet on Sunday. "I will not let the State of Israel finance a conference that gives voice to a man like that." In a later interview on Channel 1, he said that he sees freedom of expression as important. "We must guard it... but there are lines that can't be crossed," Shalom said. He said that there is no reason to give a platform to people like Bostrom to speak in Israel. "They have the platform in their own countries," he said. "I won't fight for freedom of expression if it gives voice to Hamas, [to those who say] that Israel has no right to exist, that the Jews are pigs... a line must be drawn, and I believe I have drawn the line in the right place," he told Israel Radio. According to him, the conference organizers had essentially "chosen [Bostrom] over the Israeli government," all in an attempt to gain the conference more media attention. Shalom told Channel 1 that conference organizers even asked right-wing organizers to come to the event to protest. Dimona Mayor Meir Cohen said that he was surprised by the minister's decision to boycott the conference, but that he respects it. "We didn't know that there was such objection to him [Bostrom] coming, other than from some right-wing groups," he told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday night. "We notified Shalom's office about a month ago, though he says he found out only three days ago and I have no reason not to believe him." Cohen defended the decision by conference organizers to invite the controversial journalist, saying that, despite his personal misgivings, bringing Bostrom to Israel is a way to tackle problems in the European media head-on. "We need to deal with the trend in the European media, whether it be Swedish or Italian, to take Palestinian propaganda and turn it into news," he told the Post, saying that "there is no clearer way" to show the trend than to speak to Bostrom. Bostrom will be interviewed Monday evening by journalist Yair Lapid. He said that it is important to address the issue of European journalism that is "completely built on lies, [with different media sources] following one after the other." "We thought it was fitting to invite a man like [Bostrom] to a conference that deals with media issues, among them ethical norms," he said. "I am angry at him... my gut feeling is that he hates Israel... but in my head, I know that it's worthwhile to bring him, to sit and speak with him and give professional criticism. This is what the conference deals with," he said. Conference organizers are providing Bostrom with a bodyguard, in fear that right-wing activists may try to harm him during his visit.

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