Archive for April, 2006

Swedish credibility at an all-time low

Thursday, April 27th, 2006

2006 is election year in Sweden. In early April, Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz quashed an investigation into calls from the Stockholm Grand Mosque to “kill the Jews”. In his opinion, incitement to kill Jews in Sweden should be seen against the background of the conflict in Israel, rendering such calls entirely permissible.

Later the same month Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström declined to withdraw an entry visa for Hamas leader Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil or to have him arrested upon entry – even though Sweden is a signatory to the pan-European decision to brand Hamas a terrorist organisation. al-Bardawil and his associates will be visiting Sweden in early May under the full protection of the Swedish authorities.

Policy of non-cooperation with Israel
And now Cabinet Secretary Hans Dahlgren announced that Sweden has withdrawn from a European peacekeeping exercise. The explanation: “the participation of the Israeli Air Force has changed the prerequisites of the exercise.” Swedish Defense Minister Leni Björklund goes further: Sweden pulled out because Israel is a state “that does not participate in international peacekeeping missions” – in other words, if you’re not already in the club you have no right to try and lend a helping hand to those in need. Ever. Of course, the Defense Minister is entirely wrong – nothing unusual in Swedish government circles – because Israel sent a peacekeeping force of policemen to Fiji in conjunction with that country’s elections. But then the Defense Minister is not exactly renowned for allowing fact to shape policy.

Electioneering
It is election year and the votes of Sweden’s 400,000 strong Muslim electorate easily outweigh those of the country’s mere 16,000 Jews. The Swedish Social Democratic administration obviously considers it worth the half million or so kronor it has already spent on its 10-month preparations for the joint exercise to drive home its thirst for votes.

Bad timing
Sweden’s latest in a long line of questionable decisions could scarcely have come at a more indelicate point in time – virtually coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the millions exterminated on an industrial scale in a Europe unwilling to work together to stop tyranny and encourage coexistence and loyalty. Today Sweden is repeating what it did sixty years ago – turning its back on those in need and siding with the force it sees as likely to win. This is perhaps the right time to remind ourselves that it was high-quality Swedish ore that powered Nazi Germany’s war machine.

What price morality?
It is perhaps also the right time for people of conscience to vote with their wallets and give Sweden’s IKEA, Volvo and Saab a wide berth. There is no Swedish product that cannot be replaced with an alternative from a democracy based on moral values.

Most Swedes are indignant, shamed even, by this most recent example of their government’s anti-Israel stance, the more so since it smacks so obviously of pre-election jostling. At a time when the governing left-communist coalition is trailing in the polls by three to five percent, it is apparent that no measure is too marginal to be used in the drive to cement its power.

The shame is that Jews in Israel are being victimised yet again, denied the opportunity to participate in peacekeeping missions in other parts of the world owing to domestic electioneering tactics in faraway Sweden.

It does perhaps help put matters into perspective that the Swedish government’s decision to ostracize Israel came on the same day that the Muslim Council of Sweden publicised its demands for the implementation of Islamic Sharia law for Muslims living in Sweden.

Blundering Swedish naivete

Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Swedes as a nation are not anti-Semitic.

But they are frighteningly naïve, with a love of ready-packaged solutions so they don’t have to get their hands dirty working out details, and with a penchant for being told what to think.

They love the underdog, which they choose from an all-black and all-white palette. Above all, Swedes have an instinctive distaste for conflict.

All of which explains why given the current climate in the country, the Swedish govt. will continue to sideline Israel while protesting its affection for her.

And here is the current climate in a nutshell – all events of the past 30 days:

1. Swedish Chancellor of Justice says Muslim calls in Stockholm mosque to “kill the Jews” are OK, since there is a conflict a few thousand km away in the Middle East.

2. Swedish Minister of Justice grants visas to Hamas, although Sweden has branded Hamas a terror organisation. The explanation? “An organisation may be terrorist, but not all its members.” Think hard about that one…

3. Swedish PM withdraws from European peacekeeping exercises – feels it is better NOT to train life-saving missions with 7 partners than to train with 1 partner with whom Sweden has never trained before.

4. The Muslim Council of Sweden demands legislation to enshrine sharia law for the country’s Muslims.

5. There are 400,000 Muslims in Sweden. There are 16,000 Jews in Sweden.

6. National elections will be held in September this year, and the current govt. is trailing in the polls. Draw your own conclusions.

Swedish unwillingness or inability?

Monday, April 17th, 2006

Swedish Chancellor of Justice Mr Göran Lambertz appears to be a victim of his own unwillingness or, at best, inability to do his job properly.

The Chancellor responded both defensively and offensively to a press release (http://www.upprop.net/pressrelease.php?lang=eng) highlighting his decision to drop preliminary investigations into a Stockholm mosque’s calls to kill Jews. He defended his decision on the grounds that such calls, while repugnant, should be seen against the background of the conflict in the Middle East, commenting further that even calls of an offensive nature are “protected by the Constitution, and (that) freedom goes very deep”. He is not on record as having stated that the Muhammed cartoons, while repugnant, should be seen against the background of Islamist violence against unprotected civilians in the name of Muhammed, nor that the right to publish them in Sweden is protected by the Constitution, whose freedom goes very deep.

It is interesting, moreover, to note the following:

1. The Chancellor is highly irate because he feels the press release suggested “it would be politically correct in Sweden to refuse prosecuting hate speech against Jews”. Unfortunately, the Chancellor interprets the English language the way he interprets Swedish law – rather flexibly: nowhere in the press release was there any suggestion that that it is politically correct in Sweden to do any such thing, but rather that the Chancellor has taken it upon himself to interpret the law in this way, perhaps out of inadequate preparation of the case (see point 3 below), concern in an election year (see point 2), or fear of Muslim sentiment, among other possible considerations. If the latter, then that is highly regrettable because the Chancellor is not in office to cower out of fear, but to uphold the law. He failed in spectacular fashion.

2. The Chancellor is also highly irate over what he sees as the suggestion in the press release that his decision might have had “something to do with the upcoming elections in Sweden”. The record needs to be put straight: this IS an election year in Sweden, he surely cannot be contesting that. And the Chancellor DID soft-pedal on an issue of considerable concern to Muslims in Sweden, and he did so on highly questionable grounds (see point 3 below). There is no reason to avoid pointing out all the facts in the scenario, however peripheral he may regard them from his scarcely objective viewpoint. After all, the Chancellor himself chose to point out facts that are widely regarded as remarkably peripheral in defence of his decision to drop the preliminary investigation into racial hatred at the Stockholm mosque – he after all chose to point to a conflict taking place several thousand kilometres away on a totally different continent, in which conflict Sweden plays no part whatsoever. It is hard to imagine why the Chancellor would grant himself the right to cite peripheral events in defence of his inaction, yet get upset over his citizens’ right to cite peripheral events when highlighting that inaction.

3. Despite his charmingly worded protestations (in English) to the contrary, the Chancellor is being somewhat economical with the full facts of the case. At a debate (in Swedish) at the Stockholm Jewish Centre in early April, some interesting revelations were made:
i. There exists no substantial documentation to which he can refer and on which his “findings” were based.
ii. The flagrantly anti-Semitic texts from the Stockholm mosque were never fully translated in writing for his examination; instead he received a verbal translation through the services of an interpreter, and this verbal translation was more in the nature of a summary of the contents. Yet the Chancellor writes: “There is furthermore no reason for me to review my decision as long as such re-examination would concern the same material.” The question is: what material would this be? The Chancellor, after all, admits he has none.
iii. The Chancellor also freely admits that the political situation in the Middle East is highly inflamed – it is in fact the very excuse he offers for sanctioning the viciously anti-Semitic statements in the first place. Yet despite the inflamed nature of the conflict – which has nothing to do with Swedish Jews – he does not see fit to put in place the elementary safeguard of employing several translators and subsequently comparing their renderings of the contents. This begs the question of just how naive a public upholder of the law is permitted to be in such a situation, when he freely admits that the very subject of the Middle East causes such high feeling among all concerned.
iv. Despite the Chancellor’s protestations to the contrary in his English letter, he was put in the highly awkward position of having to publicly backtrack in Swedish on every single count during the debate in Stockholm. None of which is evident in his English letter. It would appear he has taken a leaf out of Yasser Arafat’s book – Arafat going down in history as the man who made an art of out saying one thing in English and quite another in Arabic.

There is a consideration of moral relevance here. Not that anyone in their right minds in the open, democratic country of Sweden would think of suggesting anything as deplorable as the following – it being merely a rhetorical extension of the Chancellor’s own argument – but would the Chancellor’s decision now open the door for calls in Sweden to kill Arabs and/or Muslims everywhere? After all, the number of Jews blown apart in suicide bombings in Israel over the past five years is well documented. These suicide bombings all carried out, of course, by Arabs and Muslims. We also know how many victims of suicide bombings there have been in London, Madrid, New York, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, to mention just some of the venues of this Arab and Muslim pastime. All atrocities committed by Arabs and Muslims in countries remote from Sweden.

Against this background of wanton daily mass-murder in places quite remote from Sweden, would Swedes now be permitted to call on their fellow-citizens to kill Arabs and Muslims in the calm backwaters of Sweden? After all, as the Chancellor wrote: “it is quite safe to say that the (Swedish) Law does not make it a crime to sing battle songs or utter war-cries related to the conflict in the Middle East.” Would one be right in assuming it is quite all right for non-Muslim Swedes to pursue such a reprehensible line because, to quote the Chancellor once again, their right to say such things “is protected by the Constitution, and the freedom goes very deep.” God protect Sweden from a society in which its citizens would be allowed to utter such disgraceful, anti-democratic sentiments. However, that right apparently sits quite easily with the Swedish Chancellor of Justice.

There remains, of course, the ultimate problem with the Chancellor’s handling of this case: because it was actually the Swedish Chancellor of Justice who offered the argument that the repugnant calls for killing Jews should be set against the conflict in the Middle East. The Swedish Muslims guilty of this racial incitement made no such connection whatsoever, pointing solely to the Muslim religious aspects of the case. It is remarkable that the Chancellor is so keen to offer his radical Islamist citizens an escape hatch from what he himself calls their “utterly provoking and quite unacceptable” comments aimed at his own moderate Jewish citizens.

It is morally repugnant that the Chancellor has recei
ved hate-mail, as he claims, just because he did a bad job. Incompetence should not be responded to with hatred or threats, but with guidance and reason. If the Chancellor did indeed receive threats just for doing an inadequate job, I for one would stand should to shoulder alongside him and defend his right to live in safety and security – because this is precisely what all right-thinking democrats in Sweden are defending, it is precisely why there has been such widespread criticism of the Chancellor’s decision to close the investigation into calls that undermine the safety and security of Sweden’s Jews.

The Chancellor did what he did out of any one or more of a number of reasons. And it is reason that will bring him to ultimately do what he should have done in the first place – a thorough job.

But for him to suggest that the press release has “cheated” its readers is nothing short of a desperate attempt to defend the indefensible – his abject failure to live up to the high demands of his office.