The Church of Sweden (in Swedish, Svenska kyrkan) is shifting into high gear in its increasingly aggressive stance against the world’s sole Jewish nation.
At the same time, it has spectacularly avoided making a firm comment on the appalling bloodletting going on in many of the world’s 49 Muslim nations. And it has stunningly failed to comment on the increasingly deplorable plight of Christian Arabs at the hands of Muslim Arabs in Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns and communities.
A couple of years ago the Church of Sweden infamously launched its HOPP-campaign to persuade the Swedish public to boycott and divest from Israel. The word HOPP was an acronym for “End the Occupation of Palestine”. At the height of the campaign, several writers, commentators and politicians in Sweden pointed out to the venerable Church of Sweden, led by its outspokenly anti-Israel Archbishop K.G. Hammar, that what the Church was engaged in was uncomfortably close in word, intention and expression to the events that heralded Hitler’s attack on Europe’s Jews. The Church expressed public outrage at the similarity but the campaign quickly subsided after that.
Selective view of what constitutes humanity
Not long after, however, it was followed by a vast Swedish media campaign by another church organisation in Sweden, Diakonia, which appealed to the nation to “Stand up for humanity” (in Swedish “Ställ dig på människornas sida”). Pictured with this heart-rending text was a stereotypically strong, robust and armed-to-the-teeth Israeli soldier standing behind an elderly, weak-looking Arab. There were striking similarities between these depictions and the infamous Der Stürmer caricatures as Hitler’s propaganda machine worked overtime to demonise the Jews and whip up public frenzy against them.
Diakonia professes to be “a Christian development organisation working together with local partners for a sustainable change for the most vulnerable people of the world” according to its own website. Yet Diakonia, like the Church of Sweden, has never seen fit to work together with its “local partners” to plead the case of Jews abducted from sovereign Israeli territory, illegally incarcerated and then denied the privileges accorded to all prisoners the world over, whether combatants or not, such as visits by the Red Cross. Prisoners are apparently only seen as “vulnerable” if they are Arab and held in Israeli jails, where they are visited by the Red Cross, but not if they are Israeli and held incommunicado for 25 years in the Arab world.
The anti-humanitarian “humanitarians”
The Church of Sweden prides itself on its humanitarian stance (“the Church of Sweden works in cooperation for peace, atonement, justice, and sustainable development. It does this through direct efforts and through its strive (sic) to be a critical voice in society”; taken from its website http://www.svenskakyrkan.se/default.aspx?di=37014). But the organisation is not all that critical of anyone apart from the Jewish state, because the Church of Sweden has shown remarkable unwillingness to approach Arab and Muslim entities on behalf of missing Israeli soldiers or justice for their families – some of whom have not heard a word from or about their loved ones for almost a quarter of a century. What the Church of Sweden is very good at, however, is to document the plight of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terror crimes against Israeli civilians – despite the fact that these prisoners are entitled to and do receive visits from the Red Cross. A courtesy not extended to a single Israeli prisoner in any Arab jail, and a case of human injustice with which the Church of Sweden does not feel any need to involve itself.
What price justice?
Two years ago Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz famously told the nation’s Jews that calls by an imam in the Stockholm Grand Mosque to kill the Jews were no reason to prosecute the imam and should instead merely be regarded as part of the general discourse on the situation in the Middle East. The then Labour government of Sweden felt this was a perfectly acceptable response and accordingly no legal proceedings were instituted against the imam. The Church of Sweden, which professes to be in favour of “peace, atonement … and justice”, did not see fit to take the imam to task for his unforgivable attack on other Swedes, nor did it lodge a complaint against the Chancellor for failing to take seriously the threat to fellow Swedes of Jewish birth. To recap: incitement to kill Jews in Sweden owing to a conflict on another continent involving non-Swedes was seen as part of the natural discourse on that conflict, and the Church of Sweden had nothing to say on behalf of “peace and justice” for Swedes whose sole misfortune was being born Jewish.
Silent on the plight of Christian Arabs
But the Church of Sweden is not only vociferous in its attacks on the Jewish state, nor is it only silent when it witnesses attacks on Sweden’s Jews. The Church of Sweden also has absolutely nothing to say about the increasingly desperate plight of Christian Arabs on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Just 25 years ago 80 percent of the population of Bethlehem, for instance, was Christian. Today that figure has dropped to 20 percent and is still falling. The cause is Islamist aggression against not only the Jewish state but the nascent Palestinian state’s own Christian minority. The Church of Sweden has nothing to say about the increasingly precarious plight of its own brethren, even as it channels millions of kronor into the West Bank and Gaza.
All-expenses-paid propaganda trips
This may be because the Church of Sweden has found a way of blaming Israel not only for this situation but also for all other evils assailing Palestinian society. The Church has embarked on an extensive – and expensive – publicly funded propaganda drive to take Swedish journalists to the Palestinian Territories – all expenses paid – where they are taken to selected households to hear carefully groomed “witnesses” make claims that, were they not so totally horrendous in their anti-Semitic pitch, would otherwise be funny to the point of absurdity. These journalists return to Sweden from their free trips and write articles about how Palestinian in-breeding is the result of the Israeli “apartheid wall” and roadblocks because Palestinian Arab men can no longer move freely enough to propose marriage to women outside their own immediate families! According to these beacons of Swedish analytical journalism, this situation has resulted in a preponderance of genetic disorders among the Palestinian population. Yet the scientific article entitled “Genetic Disorders in the Arab World” (http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/extract/333/7573/831) states that genetic disorders are about 40% among the Palestinian population on the West Bank and in Gaza, but 50% among Palestinians living in Jordan – where there is no Israeli “apartheid wall” and there are no roadblocks.
In one article published in Swedish daily GöteborgsPosten the journalist – whose “fact-finding” trip to the West Bank may or may not have been financed by the Swedish Church, this information is being withheld – was able to devote his entire text to statements such as: “The West Bank is occupied and colonised – in practice it is Israeli territory where Israelis live the life of a well-armed master-race while the Palestinians are corralled into guarded enclaves. The similarity to South African apartheid and Bantustan policy is remarkable.”
However, the journalist saw no reason to offset any of the above observations with mention for instance of Israel’s offer of an independent Palestinian state
on 96% of the West Bank with East Jerusalem as its capital and 1:1 compensation for the remaining 4%, or Israel’s unwillingness to compromise on security in light of its experiences from Gaza, which after handover to the Palestinians has resulted in more than 4000 rockets being fired into Israeli civilians. The Church of Sweden sees no reason to confuse the issue with fact, and the journalists whose trips it finances see no reason to jeopardize a free holiday by failing to toe the line.
Aggressive crusade or abject fear?
So what does all the above say about Sweden and the increasingly aggressive role being played by some of its key church institutions? Are we seeing a concerted Christian attack on the symbol of Jewish survival – the sole symbol of Jewish strength in an increasingly subdued Christian world and increasingly ascendant Muslim world? We already see an England where it is no longer possible to buy piggy-banks to save one’s children’s pocket-money for fear of offending the nation’s Muslim minority (http://www.theage.com.au/news/World/Piggy-banks-offend-UK-Muslims/2005/10/24/1130006056771.html); where office staff are requested to refrain from eating lunch at their desks for an entire month to avoid offending Muslims observing the Ramadan fast (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article2258664.ece); where a blind eye is being turned to medical students of the Muslim faith who walk out of lectures dealing with AIDS or alcoholism because these are conditions that are anathema to their religious beliefs (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/health/article2603966.ece); where it is scarcely possible, in the upcoming Christmas holiday season, to buy a card which says “Merry Christmas” – for fear of offending the nation’s Muslim minority, with most cards having more neutral wording such as “Happy Holidays” (http://www.hindu.com/2005/12/14/stories/2005121404491000.htm).
The Christian church: time to protect its reputation
Truth be told, we are seeing a Western society where Christian faith is imploding owing to its unwillingness to stand up for its own rights and beliefs, where everything Jewish is being sacrificed in order to demonstrate Christianity’s acceptance of Islam’s superiority.
This may be a sign of crass cowardice, or a fear of Islamist-inspired violence, or it may be the result of dedication to a cause that we all thought had died out with the last of the Crusaders, but the fact is that the Jewish nation is under attack by certain institutions of Swedish Christianity for the simple reason that it is a Jewish nation. Thankfully, there are Swedish Christian entities that are appalled by this disgrace and strongly voice their opposition. If the rest of the Christian world also objects to Christian faith and beliefs being hijacked in this way, it is high time for Christians throughout the world to make their voices heard.
Because a terrible moral travesty is being committed by the Church of Sweden. In the name of Christianity.