Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Friday, 6 August 2010

Northern Plights - Swedish Antisemitism and the Swedish Left

Some years ago, an Australian Jewish academic of my acquaintance, employed at a university somewhere in what is frequently dubbed "Eurabia", returned to his homeland for a visit.  During an interview with a reporter from the local Jewish newspaper he mentioned his conviction, based on the European experience, that unrestricted Muslim immigration into Australia would not bode well for Australia's Jews.  Imagine his surprise when he returned to his university and found that a small group of Aussie Jews, taking umbrage at his "Islamophobia", had contacted both the head of his department and the university's vice-chancellor in an apparent effort to get him sacked.  I guess that's the totalitarian hard left for you!

I'll be blogging in the very near future about the current situation in Australia, but today I want to focus on the plight of Swedish Jewry, about which perhaps not enough is known outside Scandinavia.  I base most of my information on a briefing paper authored by Mikael Tossaveinen, issued by the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University, and on the excellent blog Sweden Israel and the Jews, from which I took the accompanying photograph.  The blog is essential reading for anyone wishing to gain an insight into just how viciously hostile towards Israel, and ambivalent towards Jews,  the Swedish left - government ministers, politicians, clergy, trades unionists, academics, journalists - has become.

You may recall that about a year ago a leftwing Swedish newspaper, Aftonbladet, shamefully published an article which alleged that the IDF was killing Palestinians and harvesting their organs; the article, whose title translated into English was "They plunder the organs of our sons", was essentially the medieval blood libel wrapped in a modern cloak.  Its author, an extreme radical and anti-Zionist propagandist, was duplicitously described by the paper as a "journalist".   In that same year, there was a dramatic increase - up 57% on 2008 - of antisemitic incidents in Sweden, although it's well-known that many incidents go unreported, so that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

It's also well-known - despite the attempts, some of them farcical, of the mainly oh-so-politically-correct Swedish press to disguise the fact - that most antisemitic incidents are overwhelmingly the work of members of the large Muslim community that has grown in Sweden over the past generation, especially in the southern city of Malmo (total population perhaps as high as 300,000), where a fifth of inhabitants are Muslim.  In 2007, for Sweden's National Day, 6 June, marked each year as an official holiday, it was decided by officialdom - in a nod to Muslim numbers - to hold  celebrations at the mosque.  Hence this photo of ethnic Swedes in their national costume performing traditional Swedish folk dances in a bemusedly incongruous setting. 
Hence, too, the frequent use of Arabic rather than Swedish music that has come to mark the day.

As in certain other European cities, the Jews of Malmo, whose community was founded in the late nineteenth-century, feel intimidated by this large - and aggressive - Muslim presence.  With good reason, for physical threats and sometimes actual violence lie in wait for those sufficiently courageous - or foolhardy, depending on your viewpoint -  to appear in public wearing kippot or other symbols of Jewishness.  The local Chabad rabbi, easily identifiable, has been victimised innumerable times - there was even an attempt to run him over. 

During Operation Cast Lead, the tiny Jewish community, less than 800-strong (its numbers have since fallen further owing to emigration), held a "peace rally" in Malmo's main public square.  Despite that description of the event they were surrounded by a surging hate-filled mob of Muslims and ethnic Swedish leftists.  This mob clashed with police and hurled bottles and firecrackers at the Jews, who were eventually, for their safety, shunted into an alley by police.  Not long afterwards, two Israeli tennis players in Malmo for the Davis Cup were forced into playing their match in private - with no spectators - as a mob of the same elements, similarly armed with missiles, attempted to storm police barricades and invade the court.  One of them, Andy Ram, described the experience to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz as "distressing and disgusting ... the first time I have come across such a demonstration and felt the hatred towards Israelis".

The attitude of Malmo's Social Democratic mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, to the plight of his city's Jews has been exceedingly obnoxious - and instructive, reflecting as it does the attitude of so much of the political left (and not only in Sweden) towards Jews and Israel.  Reluctant to implicate the Muslim community, he has attempted to shift the blame to right-wingers, and has also dismissively stated with regard to the flight of Jews out of Malmo owing to the intolerable situation there that if the city's Jews choose to settle in Israel, that's not Malmo's concern.  A reporter, whose paper had run a series of articles on the threats, "Hitler" taunts, and harassment experienced by Malmo's Jews from members of the Muslim community, asked Reepalu for a statement.  Far from condemning the Muslim behaviour in unequivocal terms and expressing sympathy for the Jews, Reepalu declared "We accept neither Zionism nor antisemitism", describing them both as unacceptable supremacist ideologies, and observed that the Jews had brought their troubles on themselves by supporting Israel and that it was incumbent upon them to prevent antisemitism by distancing themselves from Israel.  Subsequently, he claimed to have been misrepresented by the reporter - but the reporter had wisely taped his words - so he claimed to have been set up by the "Israeli lobby" instead.

Predictably, therefore - yet of course no less outrageously for that - when, very recently, following a bomb threat, the Malmo synagogue (a beautiful Moorish structure dating to 1903) was attacked by an explosive device that blew out windows, Reepalu refused to comment.


  1. For further examples of anti-Jewish incidents in Scandinavia you might try the excellent blog;

  2. Many thanks - that's one I certainly didn't know about until now. I've had a quick look at it, and it seems to bring to our attention all sorts of relevant information, not only in Sweden.
    There is, for instance, a post about the decision to force halal meat on all children - not just Muslim children - taking school dinners at state schools in the London borough of Harrow from September ...

  3. Another example of Swedish 'anti-Israelism' is Wallander author Henning Mankel who was a member of the 'Freedom Flotilla'

    "The state of Israel can only expect to be defeated, like all occupying powers. The Israelis are destroying lives. But they are not destroying dreams. The fall of this disgraceful Apartheid system is the only thing conceivable, because it must be."


    And guess where he wrote it? Yep, Aftonbladet.

    "Is it strange that some of them in pure desperation, when they cannot see any other way out, decide to become suicide bombers? Not really?"