Archive for August, 2004

One law for Israelis and Jews, another for Palestinians and Muslims

Sunday, August 29th, 2004
Swedish Foreign Minister Ms Laila Freivalds will soon be making a personal visit to Ramallah. There she will enlist Yasser Arafat’s help in bringing to an end the anguish of a Swedish mother, Elisabeth Krantz, whose five children have been kidnapped by their Palestinian father and held hostage in Gaza.

Ms Freivalds is to be commended for playing such a personal role in the well-being of young children. She deserves every best wish in her endeavour and it is to be hoped that she manages to put a swift end to the unimaginable agony of a mother who has lost her children, and to the constant fear and anxiety of five children, the youngest a mere 6 years old.

What is remarkable, however, is that the Swedish Foreign Minister has never felt it necessary to make an equally personal appeal to Yasser Arafat to bring an end to indiscriminate killing of Israeli children on public streets, in buses, at parties, at religious celebrations – including the murder of a Swedish citizen and the attempted murder of several others at a Pesach celebration in Netanya.

While not for one moment suggesting that Ms Freivalds is either personally anti-Semitic or that she in any way reflects an anti-Semitic Swedish government, it cannot take much imagination to realise that this is precisely the kind of subtle signal that is – quite correctly – interpreted by Islamist fanatics in Sweden and elsewhere that they are indeed off-limits and that Europe does indeed apply one yardstick to Jews and Israelis and quite another to Muslims and Palestinians.

The Swedish Foreign Minister deserves all the support she can muster in the immensely delicate task facing her. It would be so much more of a credit to the Swedish administration if she were to apply the very same standards to the rest of an equally suffering regional population.

Behind-the-scenes support for and quiet words of encouragement to Sweden’s Jewish population not only don’t go far enough – the very absence of outright public support is per definition encouragement of a growing anti-Semitic undercurrent among the more extreme fringes of Sweden’s Muslim population.