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.