Archive for August, 2012

Wear a kippa – but only with police protection

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Sweden is a remarkable country. In many ways the envy of Europe, not least for one of its most famous sons Raoul Wallenberg, its vaunted social welfare program and its industrial successes of the recent past, yet haunted by the murders of its prime minister Olof Palme and foreign minister Anna Lindh.

And by its uneasy relationship with Israel. Not just Israel, but everything Israeli, Zionist and Jewish.

Soon to arrive off the coast of Israel is the “Estelle”, a small vessel that is part of a mostly publicly-funded Swedish “Ship to Gaza” propaganda exercise. Although it claims to be carrying “humanitarian aid” for the people of Gaza, what it is really carrying is a crew of human-rights saboteurs intent on vilifying the Jewish State and supporting Hamas.

While the “Estelle” is on its way from Sweden to the hotbed of terrorism that is the Hamas-led Gaza Strip, here in Sweden the nation continues to contend every day with the climate that spawns “Ship to Gaza”: widespread anti-Semitism in Sweden’s third-largest city Malmö, media animosity towards Israel that easily spills over into tacit anti-Semitism, and political fear and consequent kid-gloves treatment of a sizable Islamist minority following decades of immigration from strife-torn countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Invisible Jews

Sweden is a country whose Jews are largely invisible. Jews have been living here for more than 250 years and number about 20,000 souls. But showing one’s Jewishness in a public place is fraught with danger. Sweden is a society whose well-established, thoroughly integrated and officially recognized Jewish minority is cowed into invisibility.

No more. On Saturday 18th August a dangerous and unusual event took place simultaneously in Stockholm and Malmö: people walked the streets wearing kippot. Of course, they had to do so under massive police protection.

And this Sunday, 2nd September, there will be parallel manifestations in support of Israel, democracy and truth in Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

Wear a kippa – if you dare

While the “Ship to Gaza” ferries its propaganda from Sweden toward the Mediterranean, it leaves behind its festering legacy of hatred. Hatred so virulent it is dangerous, even life-threatening, to walk the streets wearing a kippa. You can wear a turban if you’re a Sikh, a hijab if you’re Muslim or a crucifix if you’re Christian and nobody will give you a second glance. But woe betide the Jew who wears a kippa or Magen David. That invites attack. Not by neo-Nazis or white supremacists, but by immigrants from Muslim countries. Hence the recent kippa-wearing public manifestation – in which many non-Jews participated out of solidarity with traditionally strong Swedish values of democracy, equality and an open society.

A qualification is necessary: by no means all, or even a significant proportion, of Sweden’s Muslims engage in or sympathize with anti-Jewish practice. The problem, as always, is that the silent majority is just that – silent. For various reasons, fear and intimidation being the foremost. The fact is that most immigrants from Muslim countries have fled their homelands for the safe haven of Sweden in order to escape exactly this sort of religious persecution, only to have it follow them here while official Sweden disengages from the problem. Sweden’s devotion to Political Correctness renders its politicians, cultural elite and media incapable of dealing with Islamist excesses for fear of offending Islam. The distinction between the political agenda of Islamism and the religion of Islam consistently escapes their comprehension.

Jews flee Malmö

Observers overseas may regard it as an indictment on society when a country’s citizens feel the need to parade in the streets in order to claim their right to exist. It ought to prompt politicians and the media to do some serious soul-searching. Instead, the anti-Semitic aura is so rife in parts of Sweden that the Simon Wiesenthal Center recently took the extraordinary measure of issuing an advisory against unnecessary travel to Malmö because Islamist sentiment stoked by its left-wing mayor Ilmar Reepalu is forcing the city’s Jews to flee en masse. So worrying is the situation that US President Obama’s special advisor on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, was dispatched to Malmö for discussions with the city’s mayor, who remains steadfast in his view that “we accept neither anti-Semitism nor Zionism in Malmö”. Speaking of a Davis Cup tennis tournament between Sweden and Israel hosted by Malmö in 2009, the city’s mayor declared “Don’t forget, this isn’t a match against just anyone. It’s a match against the state of Israel”. Reepalu is also noted for having said that despite repeated – and police-documented – attacks against Jews in his city “there have been no attacks against Jews, and if Jews want to leave for Israel that is not a concern for Malmö”.

It is against this backdrop that manifestations are being held in Stockholm and Gothenburg on Sunday 2nd September. These are not demonstrations against anything or anyone, just manifestations in support of Israel, democracy and truth.

Obsessive prejudice against the Jewish state

Sweden is a country where the Church’s politicized leadership – unlike most of its membership – is rabidly anti-Israel and often borderline anti-Semitic. A look at its Diakonia “aid” organization, which has a strong presence in the Palestinian territories, reveals no aid on behalf of the rapidly diminishing Christians of Bethlehem or Gaza, or the terrorized Coptic Christians of Egypt, or the beleaguered Christian minority of Pakistan – only an unhealthy obsession with anti-Israel actions.

With some notable exceptions, the Swedish media suffer from a herd mentality – they trail their colleagues, they are averse to doing the individual groundwork necessary for digging out the truth, they have developed in a professional climate rife with both anti-Semitism and virulent anti-Israel sentiment, and they have no qualms about letting professionalism take a back seat to political propaganda against the Jewish state. For instance, Sweden’s biggest tabloid, Aftonbladet, ran an unsubstantiated story that the IDF kills Palestinian Arabs and harvests their organs in a macabre but lucrative trade. It refused to issue a retraction or apology for this crude medieval blood-libel.

Manifestation in support of Israel

This is the climate of indoctrination in which naïve, well-meaning Swedes are nurtured. It is where “Ship to Gaza” gains its nourishment, finances and support. Swedes are by nature neither anti-Semitic nor inherently anti-Israel. On the contrary – scratch the surface and most Swedes will confide that they admire the Jewish state for its steadfast determination to progress in the face of massive odds, and for continuing to embrace a thriving democracy and genuine multiculturalism. So it is not with the general public that the problem lies. A self-censoring Swedish media with an unhealthy devotion to consensus, a heavily politicized Church leadership, and politicians dedicated to Political Correctness, have all helped create a situation in which wearing a kippa in public is dangerous, in which waving the Israeli flag and speaking not against anyone or anything but in favor of democracy and truth, requires a massive presence by a highly praiseworthy but politically hamstrung police force.

Sweden, late summer 2012: hatred nurtured at home and exported to Gaza on the “Estelle”, while democrats take to the streets wearing kippot under the protection of the police. It’s a deeply troubling contrast.

From Sweden with Hatred

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The following article was first published in The Times of Israel on August 28, 2012. Thanks to the editors for their kind permission to republish it here.

The “Estelle” is a Swedish boat sailing to the coast of Gaza, part of a mostly publicly-funded “Ship to Gaza” propaganda project.

On Saturday 18th August a dangerous and unusual demonstration took place simultaneously in Stockholm and Malmö, Sweden’s third-largest city: people walked the streets wearing kippot.

And this Sunday, 2nd September, there will be parallel manifestations in support of Israel, democracy and truth in Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden’s second-largest city. What’s the connection?

Everything. “Ship to Gaza” claims to want an end to the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza”. Its fanatical, virulently anti-Israel collaborators from Sweden refuse to comment on or even acknowledge the fact that Gaza is being marketed by Hamas itself as a luxury destination for Arab tourists on account of its 5-star hotels, lavish shopping malls, Olympic-standard swimming pools, acclaimed restaurants and wonderful beaches (albeit patrolled by Hamas to enforce modest Islamic dress code – but only for female bathers). Truth is an inconvenient obstacle to propaganda. Indeed, the Red Cross unequivocally stated over a year ago that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The Red Cross statement is supported by Palestinian strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who says Gaza is “not lacking anything” – and he should know better than a group of well-funded conspiracy theorists living in far-off Stockholm.

Besieging the truth

In defiance of truth, logic and fact, the “Ship to Gaza” crew nevertheless set sail from Sweden to support the Hamas regime and break what they term Israel’s “siege” of Gaza. Of course, the “siege” of the Hamas-run terrorist enclave is not total – Israel transits all Gaza’s legal imports of food, medicine, building materials, fuel and so on, and admits increasing numbers of Gaza inhabitants for hospital treatment in Israel – facts that Sweden’s “Ship to Gaza” crew conveniently ignore.

What “Ship to Gaza” actually carries is hatred. Hatred so virulent that it is considered dangerous, even life-threatening, to walk the streets of Sweden wearing a kippa. You can wear a turban if you’re a Sikh, a hijab if you’re Muslim, or a crucifix if you’re a Christian, but woe betide the Jew who wears a kippa or Magen David. That invites attack. Not by neo-Nazis or white supremacists, but by immigrants from Muslim countries. Hence the recent kippa-wearing public demonstration – in which many non-Jews participated out of solidarity with traditionally strong Swedish notions of democracy, equal respect for all and an open society.

Jews fleeing Malmö

Many might regard it as an indictment on society when citizens feel the need to parade in the streets just to claim their right to exist. It ought to prompt politicians and the media to do some serious soul-searching. Instead, the anti-Semitic aura is so rife in parts of Sweden that the Simon Wiesenthal Center recently took the unprecedented step of issuing an advisory against travel to Malmö because Islamist sentiment fanned by controversial left-wing mayor Ilmar Reepalu is forcing the city’s Jews to flee en masse. In fact, so troubling is the situation that US President Obama’s special advisor on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, was sent to Malmö for discussions with the city’s unrepentant mayor.

It is for this reason that manifestations are being held in Stockholm and Gothenburg on Sunday 2nd September. These are not demonstrations against anything or anyone, just manifestations in support of Israel, democracy and truth.

Three things that are anathema to the “Ship to Gaza” Swedes who will shortly arrive off the coast of Israel. As before, most notably when Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara was boarded and diverted to Israel amid vicious attacks by its hard-core Islamist “peace activists”, Israel has stated that the “Estelle” will not be allowed to dock in Gaza but will be diverted to Israel in keeping with the UN-sanctioned blockade. Israel will pass on any humanitarian cargo that the boat may be carrying for Gaza. Having said that, this is a pitifully small vessel incapable of carrying more than a couple of van-loads of cargo. Contrast this with the 1200-plus truckloads that Israel transits into Gaza every week. The Estelle is not carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid but a cargo of human-rights saboteurs aiding an anti-Semitic Hamas regime.

Unhealthy obsession against the Jewish state

Sweden is a country where the Church’s politicised leadership – unlike the majority of its membership – is rabidly anti-Israel and often borderline anti-Semitic. A look at its Diakonia “aid” organisation reveals no aid on behalf of beleaguered Christians in Bethlehem or Gaza, or Coptic Christians in Egypt, or massacred Christians in Pakistan – only an obsession with anti-Israel actions and sentiment.

With a few notable exceptions, the Swedish media are lazy, prejudiced, mainstream, unprincipled and averse to facts for fear they may interfere with their preconceived notions. Sweden’s biggest tabloid, Aftonbladet, ran an unsubstantiated story that the IDF kills Palestinian Arabs and harvests their organs in a macabre but lucrative trade. It never issued a retraction or apology for this medieval blood-libel.

Manifestation for Israel

This is the climate of indoctrination in which naïve, well-meaning Swedes are nurtured. It is where the “Ship to Gaza” collaborators gain their nourishment, their finances, their support. Swedes are by nature neither anti-Semitic nor inherently anti-Israel. A skewed media self-censored by an unhealthy devotion to consensus, a heavily politicised Church leadership, and politicians who pray at the altar of Political Correctness have all helped create a situation in which wearing a kippa in public is dangerous, in which waving the Israeli flag and speaking not against anyone or anything but in favour of democracy and truth, requires a massive presence by a highly praiseworthy but politically hamstrung police force.

Sweden, late summer 2012: hatred nurtured at home and exported to Gaza on the Estelle, while democrats take to the streets wearing kippot under the protection of the police. It’s a sad image.

Ilya Meyer, Gothenburg, Sweden

For information about the manifestation in Gothenburg on 2nd September 2012:

In English and Swedish: Ilya Meyer at ilya.meyer@transtext.se.   In Hebrew: Oded Meiri at odedmeiri@hotmail.com

EU “logic”

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

The EU’s Mideast Policy:

Land that at some stage in history made up the Kingdom of Israel is not part of Israel.

Land that even in recent history did not belong to Arabs is not part of Israel.

Land that never in history belonged to Arabs is also not part of Israel.

You’ve got to hand it to the Brussels pen-pushers – they need to show they are doing something - anything – to earn their massive (taxpayer-funded) monthly salaries.