Archive for August, 2009

Hamas and Aftonbladet: a marriage made in hell

Monday, August 31st, 2009

Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet writes an inflammatory anti-Semitic article that even its own editors admit is so lacking in factual basis it cannot be printed in the news pages. It is relegated to the “Culture” section.

Which says a whole lot about the Swedish perception of culture in a climate of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism nurtured by large swathes of the media. The Church of Sweden and its various satellite organisations play at least as significant a role in this incitement as the media do.

Meantime, Hamas in Gaza refuse to educate children on the subject of the Holocaust as part of the curriculum.

Schoolbooks – indeed the entire educational establishment just like virtually all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip and West Bank – are financed by the West. Sweden is the world’s biggest per capita donor to Palestinian Arab welfare. Swedish taxpayers’ money is being used in order to shield Palestinian Arabs from an aspect of world history that is taught in every other part of the world. Hamas refers to the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were slaughtered as part of a widespread racist ideology, as “a lie invented by the Zionists”. It is this same Hamas that Sweden and the rest of the West continue to subsidise. UNRWA, which is charged with ensuring that UN funds are properly used in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, said simply that “the Holocaust was not currently on its curriculum” in the Hamas-controlled territory.

It is this same Hamas that more than three years ago kidnapped a young Jew from Israel, Gilad Schalit, and has since held him without access to the Red Cross, the UN, legal representation, medical attention, or visits from or indeed correspondence with his family. Schalit is being used as a pawn in the medieval pastime of human trafficking. It is a practice that is illegal in the civilized world but is deemed a legitimate Palestinian government tactic. It must be legitimate because the world at large continues to turn a blind eye – it has never once been on the EU, UN or US agenda over the past three years.

Sweden and the rest of the western world accordingly continue to pump billions into the Palestinian economy, while the Palestinians continue to enshrine barbaric practices into governmental policy.

Not everyone in the West is blind, however. Italy is not afraid of condemning Aftonbladet’s anti-Semitism, calling its article “lying and hurtful” and an act “of blatant anti-Semitism”. Israeli officials have repeatedly maintained that they do not either want or expect the Swedish government to interfere with freedom of expression or freedom of the press, but insist that the Swedish government needs to make its response to the anti-Semitic claims clear. Responding is not the same as curbing freedom of speech. The absence of a response, on the other hand, could be and often is seen as tacit support. Hamas certainly seem to see it that way.

The Italian Foreign Minister had no difficulty in formulating a response. FM Franco Frattini went so far as to say: “There are limits to freedom of the press that stem from respect for the truth and the duty of every journalist to prove his claims.” Italy seems, unfortunately, to be the sole voice in the wilderness.

Because that wilderness echoes to the sound of official Sweden’s silence.

The bewildering thing about Sweden’s silence is that it is not consistent. According to website WWRN (WorldWide Religious News), Sweden’s Prime Minister did actually express regret over the nature of the offence caused.

Prime Minister Fredirk (sic) Reinfeldt said after Tuesday’s talks … “I regret if people have taken offense or feel offended”.’

There’s one problem, however. I’ve been a bit economical with the truth, because the above quote, while totally accurate in what I’ve included, is interesting for what I’ve omitted; a few key phrases. The full quote as taken from the WWRN website actually reads:

Prime Minister Fredirk Reinfeldt said after Tuesday’s talks with Swedish Muslim organizations, “I regret if people have taken offense or feel offended” by the cartoon in a local newspaper, Nerikes Allehanda.’

The reference is to the offence felt by Muslims a couple of years ago over insults perceived by Muslims and Islam worldwide in the wake of cartoons published depicting the prophet Mohammed in an unfavourable light.

The Swedish Prime Minister and his government just couldn’t square it with Sweden’s much-vaunted freedom of the press and freedom of expression to voice equal regret over insults perceived by Jews and Israelis worldwide in the wake of unsubstantiated and blatantly anti-Semitic allegations published in Aftonbladet.

Neither PM Reinfeldt nor anyone in his government is anti-Semitic. They are pillars of democratic decency.

But the juxtaposition between words on the one hand and silence on the other nurtures anti-Semitism.

And it is this that is so problematic with official Sweden’s silence today.

INN, Haaretz, WWRN, JPost, Al Ahram, Emanuele Ottolenghi, DN (Swedish), Sydsvenskan (Swedish), Swedish Parliament (Swedish), IlyaMeyer, IlyaMeyer2, IlyaMeyer3,

Instructions to Swedish journalists: "Spice it up with fiction"

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

“Spice it up with fiction”
“Tell small lies”
“Make it up”
“Simple tricks for blending fact with fiction, telling half-lies and writing semi-literary works”

This is how Swedish journalism’s king of the Radical Left, Jan Guillou, describes the recipe for achieving success in journalism.

He goes on to state that today “most journalists (in Sweden) are better than in my day”.

He measures success by the degree to which the media succeeds in persuading the public of its agenda.

Using any means that make it difficult to separate hard fact from personal opinion.

This goes a long way to explaining the obsession of extreme-Left tabloids like Sweden’s Aftonbladet to defaming Israel and trampling on the sensibilities of Jews. It explains Aftonbladet’s recent unsubstantiated claim that Israel – and through tenuous implications Jews – engage in systematic organ trafficking. Claims that both the journalist behind the piece and the editor freely admit have no basis in fact.

Anyone wanting to find out what drives the extreme Left in Sweden – and the media in Sweden form a largely Left-wing stronghold – should take note of what Jan Guillou says. He is the Grand Old Man of Swedish journalism and has for decades set the tone for journalism in this country.

Sweden’s Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and freedom of the press. And quite rightly too, as in any self-respecting democracy. It is not the role of government to interfere in the workings of the press.

But it is the responsibility of the public to be aware of the agenda that drives many journalists and to be familiar with the tricks used.

With some thankfully excellent exceptions, Sweden does not have a free press. Sweden has a press free of critical thinking.

A press nurtured on deception as a means to a pre-determined political end.

The interview with Jan Guillou is in Swedish and can be viewed here.

For an example of the sort of journalism that Swedish journalists do NOT engage in and an example of the sort of story that most Swedish papers will NOT report on, read the following article.

It’s all about the terrorist training camps run by Gaza’s Hamas rulers for children as young as eight.

You won’t read about it in Sweden’s Aftonbladet.

TV4 (Swedish programme), IDF, NGO Monitor, NGO Monitor2, IlyaMeyer1, IlyaMeyer2,

How the West was won

Friday, August 28th, 2009

Or, more correctly, conquered.

On Thursday August 27, Swedish TV’s national debate programme “Debatt” (in Swedish) dealt with the anti-Semitic Aftonbladet/Donald Boström allegations – entirely unsubstantiated – of illegal organ trafficking by Jews and Israelis.

Although the spotlight has naturally trained on the murky agenda of the extreme Left-wing newspaper and its collaborators, the real issue in Sweden is not that the article was published. Sweden has a free press and its citizens enjoy freedom of speech, both enshrined in the Constitution.

As such, Aftonbladet may abuse its position to pursue any murky policy it chooses and it is perfectly free to employ the services of unscrupulous agents and amateur writers in that pursuit. Swedish law guarantees that freedom.

The real point at issue is not Aftonbladet exercising its freedom of expression via activities of dubious moral standard, but whether the Swedish government are right in not exercising the very same freedom of expression to identify Aftonbladet’s bigotry for what it was. In a remarkable departure from protocol and ethics, the Swedish Foreign Office under Carl Bildt took the extraordinarily aggressive step of ordering the removal from the Embassy website of a statement by Sweden’s ambassador to Israel in which she upheld her nation’s freedom of expression but expressed regret over the hurt felt by Israelis over the unfounded allegations.

And what of the Swedish media? The vast majority have roundly condemned the offending piece as a blatant act of racist defamation. Most have also expressed surprise that the article contains no evidence whatsoever to back up the unsubstantiated claims.

The only howls of media support come from the traditional pack of Israel-baiters – extreme Left-wing fringe papers with circulations as numerous as the feathers on a leopard’s back.

Mainstream media Sweden has by and large taken stock of its reputation.

But there are exceptions. Yesterday’s “Debatt” TV programme pitched Boström and his Aftonbladet cohorts – along with their regular trail of insufficiently medicated Palestinian Solidarity Movement groupies – against representatives of the free press and the Jewish Community in Gothenburg, on Sweden’s west coast.

Oded Meiri from Gothenburg sat with a stop-watch throughout the TV programme. His findings: Aftonbladet and the pro-Palestinian group got to speak for 14.60 minutes, while the opposing side got just half that – a mere 7.5 minutes on air.

Viewer Amos notes that all the pro-Arab speakers were introduced with signs showing their names and affiliations, while the opposing debaters were offered no such courtesy. At no time did the programme host point out that despite Boström’s claims in his article, the Arab family on which the article centres have categorically denied that they ever made any allegations of illegal organ removal. Furthermore, they stated categorically that they had never spoken to Boström or indeed any other reporter on the issue.

The second part of the “Debatt” TV programme dealt with an entirely unrelated matter, that of alternative medicine in Sweden. As such, there were several doctors in the studio while the Aftonbladet issue was being discussed. Not one pointed out that organ harvesting after the donor had suffered multiple gunshot wounds in a dusty street, followed by a long, dusty and hot journey by jeep and helicopter to (presumably) a medical establishment, would render the victim’s organs unusable.

This, then, is the true face of the climate that the Swedish media have created over the years regarding the Middle East scene: uncomfortable silence even when the truth needs out. True, in the wake of Aftonbladet’s excesses most media outlets have come to their senses and for the first time in decades actually taken a firm stance against shoddy journalistic practice, constant demonisation of Israel, and anti-Semitism in the Left-wing press. Some Swedish newspapers have always maintained a high ethical and professional standard and have continued in the same vein throughout this ugly episode.

But Swedish TV’s “Debatt” puts into sharp relief the situation in which this nation finds itself after decades of unmitigated hate-mongering and constant bias in the Swedish media. Aftonbladet may have produced disgusting anti-Semitic claptrap, but SVT “Debatt” gave it twice as much time to defend itself as it gave to people wanting answers to very specific questions.

Not least among those questions was why Aftonbladet’s original Swedish text differs so markedly from its English translation, which has been significantly toned down in several key areas. To her credit, “Debatt” host Belinda Olsson was barely able to contain her frustration at Aftonbladet editor Jan Helin’s refusal to address the issue.

But it did not stop her from giving twice as much time to Aftonbladet as she did to the opposing side.

The effects can already be seen in the Arab world, which is lapping up the story as though more encouragement of anti-Semitism were needed in the Muslim world. The Egyptian Gazette, for instance, doesn’t let truth get in the way of a good story.

This is how the West is being won – or conquered: through the weakness and/or ill-will of the media.

Want a second opinion? Here’s what Sarah Honig writes on the subject.

Alan Dershowitz, Jerusalem Post, Egyptian Gazette, The New Republic, NWT (Swedish)