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: