On Sunday 9th December this year a rally was held outside the offices of Aftonbladet, a Swedish tabloid equally well known for its vicious anti-Israel stance as for its peddling of raw anti-Semitic vitriol.
The theme of the rally was “Enough is Enough!” – no more media prejudice against the Jewish state, no more anti-Israel lies in the media, no more withholding of news that may explain Israel’s position in a neutral or objective light.
In a biting minus 15 degrees, supporters of democracy, ethics and principle gathered together outside the front door of Aftonbladet to express their disapproval of the Swedish media’s blatant prejudice against the Jewish state. True to form, Aftonbladet totally ignored the event taking place on its doorstep – it never figured in their reporting. If it doesn’t suit the paper’s political agenda, it simply didn’t happen. Such is the Pravda-esque state of what passes for journalism in Sweden.
Thankfully, with the advent of the electronic age the dinosaurs of the Swedish media are no longer able to exercise their decades-old monopoly on news dissemination. Accordingly, several media sites from around the world are publishing news of the rally. There were three speeches at the event: an introduction by Hanna Zion, a thought-provoking speech by Dmitri Vasserman, and my speech, below, which spotlighted what the media have done here in Sweden and what they failed to do.
All three speeches were in Swedish. The English translation of my speech follows below.
The rally was organised by Anna Berg, Hanna Zion, Natan Gelber and Kim Milrell together with stoppabojkott.se.
Photo: SJD – Swedish-Jewish Dialogue
From the left: Hanna Zion, Ilya Meyer, Kim Milrell, Dmitri Vasserman
It’s encouraging to see just how much support there is in Stockholm for the only functioning democracy in the entire Middle East – the Jewish state of Israel.
Only a blind person could ignore the simple fact that Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy, a haven of human rights and religious freedom. And only someone who is blind AND deaf can ignore the simple fact that large swathes of the Swedish media, led primarily by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet, Swedish “news” agency TT and Swedish state broadcaster SVT, have an openly biased attitude against the Jewish state and in favour of the fanatical anti-Semitic forces that openly proclaim their intention to annihilate the Jewish state for the sole reason that it is a Jewish state.
One could speak for hours or write at length about the naked antipathy that Aftonbladet, TT and SVT displayed during the most recent Hamas war against Israel. A war partially financed by Sweden. The Hamas war involved rockets manufactured in the fanatically Islamist regime of Iran, fired by the fanatically Islamist Hamas regime of Gaza.
It’s sufficient to just examine the initial media reporting when the war broke out. In accordance with Aftonbladet, TT and SVT doctrine the conflict broke out when Israel responded to Hamas rockets fired on Israeli civilians. NOT when Hamas first fired those rockets at Israeli civilians.
The fact is that throughout 2012 up to the start of the Hamas war, Israel had sent no less than 20 letters to the UN requesting that world body’s assistance in putting a stop to the constant Hamas rocket bombardments of Jewish civilians. Not ONE SINGLE response was forthcoming from the UN. By the time the war broke out on November 14th, no less than 752 missiles had been fired from Gaza against civilian targets in Israel. During the last week prior to the outbreak of war, Hamas fired 70 missiles into Israel. The UN did not even table a discussion on any of this. Last year 627 missiles were fired into Israel. The UN didn’t take that up for discussion either. So Hamas will not stop its constant attacks, the UN won’t listen, and Aftonbladet, TT and SVT won’t report what is happening. On SVT’s teletext service there was not one single report on any of this. On the night commemorating Kristallnacht, when in 1939 the Nazis launched their industrialised system for the eradication of Jews from the face of the earth, Hamas shot a missile into Israel that seriously wounded four Israelis. Total silence on the part of Aftonbladet, TT and SVT.
Finally Israel responded. Israel responded first by targeting the Hamas operative responsible for the rockets and by targeting the underground rocket launchers. The Israeli Air Force must be either the best, most accurate and most humanitarian air force in the world – or the most useless: 1500 bombing missions by the IAF over a period of eight days in the built-up Gaza Strip, and still no more than about 140 fatalities were recorded, of which 90 confirmed terrorists. The Israeli pilots must have really terrible aim not to be able to wreak more human havoc – or they must be the most skilled in the world at pinpoint attacks that take out military sites hidden among civilian infrastructure.
And true to form, that was when SVT’s teletext service first reported on the conflict: “Israeli attack kills at least 6 Palestinians”. In other words, it all began when the Jews hit back.
Not only that, SVT’s teletext service delivered this stunning statement:
“The violence is the most serious in almost 3 years.”
Come again? Hundreds of missiles fired from Gaza against Israeli civilians every year for 3 years, and according to Swedish state-run broadcaster SVT it is Israel’s RESPONSE that sparks the greatest violence in the past 3 years. At SVT, Jewish lives don’t seem to matter a whole lot. It is worrying that media giant SVT is financed by Swedish licence payers to peddle this kind of attitude. Does SVT believe in the sanctity of ALL human life? Apparently not.
The big, increasingly irrelevant traditional media giants display an amazing penchant for ignoring fact, manipulating photographs, reversing the sequence of events, censuring news that does not dovetail with their predetermined political agenda, and telling deliberate lies.
In the midst of the war, with 3 million Israelis living in bomb shelters while schools, kindergartens, hospitals and homes were being rocketed, Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet decided to dust off a well-worn anti-Semitic claim fashioned in the true spirit of Goebbels propaganda: that the Jewish state kills Palestinian Arabs in order to harvest their organs, which are then sold for profit. Aftonbladet’s Åsa Linderborg later claimed that she had contradicted this in an article she wrote – but she was unable to furnish any evidence of any such article. This is the kind of raw anti-Semitic virulence that is par for the course among neo-Nazis and among Islamists belonging to Fatah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, it is part of the everyday discourse in Iran, Turkey, Egypt. And it is nurtured at Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet.
While the Hamas rockets fell, the Swedish media’s latest sweetheart, TV hostess Gina Dirawi (a Lebanese who claims “Palestinian” heritage) made one anti-Semitic statement after the next. Her most recent escapade into the world of Judeophobia was her recommendation of a Swedish book written by a notorious Holocaust denier, a person who the Expo Foundation classified as a “radical anti-Semite”. Dirawi’s state-run employer SVT, instead of kicking her out of her job, gave her their full backing. For Gina Dirawi and her employer SVT, this is not the first time this has happened. In today’s Sweden, anti-Semitism, often thinly disguised as “criticism of Israel”, receives enthusiastic and open support in the traditional media.
But instead of supporting raw anti-Semitism, naked lies and overt propaganda, there was so much more that the Swedish media COULD have reported, if only they had decided to operate as journalists instead of as Hamas PR consultants.
For example the Swedish media could have reported that never before in the annals of world history has there been a situation in which the victim of a war continues to see to the everyday needs of the aggressor. Between 1100 and 1300 truckloads of goods per week containing food, fuel, medicine, building suppliers, are transported from Israel to Gaza. At the same time, hundreds of sick Palestinian Arabs come to Israel for medical treatment – day in, day out. 125,000 Palestinian Arabs were treated in Israel in 2011. Not a word from Aftonbladet, TT and SVT – news of this sort doesn’t fit in with the caricature of Israel that they wish to sear into the minds of the Swedish public. None other than Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s own sister Suhila’s husband was treated at an Israeli hospital just a few months ago! While Hamas continued to bombard Israel with rockets …
In the midst of thundering rocket barrages, with 1400 rockets from Gaza fired on Israel over a period of 8 days, Israel nonetheless sent 880 truckloads of supplies to Gaza. Israeli electricity board engineers repaired Gaza’s electricity supply infrastructure while rockets were being fired – they had to be shielded by the Israeli military from Hamas snipers while repairing electricity lines to supply Hamas with electricity! Incredible – and ignored by the Swedish media. Overseas, however, this story made it into the media, because outside Sweden Aftonbladet, TT and SVT cannot prevent the dissemination of news like they can at home.
Israel has the most devastating military might in the region. It would be no difficult task to totally flatten the Gaza Strip in order to put a total stop to rocket launching operations – in fact, it would be quicker and far cheaper were the Israeli military to let loose its might and do the job that needs to be done, instead of as now limiting itself to precision attacks on the exact locations of rocket launchers and underground storage depots. Israel could easily adopt the same tactic that Hamas uses – terrorising civilians by using rockets without any guidance system, without any specific targets. This would be extremely effective as a terror weapon, and very cheap. But Israel does not stoop to such measures. There is a strong air of moral corruption, of moral perversion, in the Swedish media’s attempts to create some kind of moral equivalence between Israel and terrorist group Hamas. There is nothing that the two share in common – except in the minds of journalists and editors at Aftonbladet, TT and SVT.
14,000 missiles fired against Israeli civilians over the past 11 years. ONLY against civilians. Hamas has imported medium- and long-distance Fajr-5 rockets from Iran, so there’s no problem with logistics for the supply of weapons. So why not instead import rockets with guidance systems, which Hamas could aim at the Israeli military? The answer of course is that the military are not the target, and never have been. The civilians are the target. Hamas wants Israel to accept as the norm that rockets are fired at Jews, that part of the nation’s budget shall be invested in the privilege of being allowed to live. In Sweden, a certain proportion of the national budget is earmarked for traffic safety; in Israel, a certain proportion of the national budget is earmarked for safety against rocket attacks. Bizarre? This is something the Swedish media could have reported, but they preferred not to.
Israel has developed an anti-missile system called Iron Dome that is designed to destroy incoming Hamas rockets in the air before they land in Israel. The Jewish state invests resources in rockets that PROTECT civilians, whereas Hamas invests resources in rockets that KILL civilians. The Swedish media could have reported on this fundamental difference between Israel and Hamas. But they deliberately chose not to.
Hamas is guilty of a dual crime against humanity: they shoot at civilians in Israel, and they do so from within Palestinian Arab civilian infrastructure, using local Arabs as human shields. The Hamas charter clearly states that Israel is to be wiped off the map, that the entire area between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea (that is to say all of Israel) is to be cleared of all Jews. Just stop for a moment and consider what they are openly advocating: ethnic cleansing – in their official charter! And yet, in the run-up to the war that was intended to give Hamas its victory, Hamas deliberately avoided building bomb shelters for Gaza’s civilian population – because the whole point was to put as many Gaza civilians in the line of fire, all so as to buy propaganda victories on TV, irrespective of the military losses on the ground. Cynical? Abusive? Criminal? And yet the Swedish media ignore the dual crime against human rights perpetrated by Hamas.
A lot of nonsense is written about “disproportionate violence”. What exactly is “proportionate violence”? Should attempted mass-murder not be punished or even prevented if the attempt fails? Is attempted murder only objectionable IF it succeeds? Is war fair only if exactly the same number of people die on either side? Are we really to adopt a primitive “eye for an eye” mentality, is this really what the intellectual giants of the Swedish media are proposing? People die in war. The only way to avoid death in wars is to not start wars. Negotiate instead. But how on earth can Hamas suddenly ignore its entire programme, its charter, its propaganda, its indoctrination of generations of children, and start negotiating with Jews, these “spawn of pigs and apes” as Hamas puts it?
Gaza is the only region in the world that, in accordance with the Palestinian Arabs’ official policy, is entirely judenrein, that is to say ethnically cleansed from every last trace of Jews. Even dead Jews had to be dug up and reburied in Israel in order to satisfy the Judeophobic demands of the Islamist regime in Gaza. That’s what human rights look like in Gaza – that and “justice by motorcycle”, whereby locals summarily accused of collaboration with Israel are executed and their bodies dragged behind motorcycles through city streets to teach the public what they can expect if they dare cross Hamas. And the Swedish media ignore all this. It’s not reported in the news, it’s not picked up in the editorials. Analytical ability – something that ought to be the very life-blood of every self-respecting journalist – seems to be entirely unknown at Aftonbladet, TT and SVT.
I would like to make an appeal to the Swedish media. Do by all means take sides on behalf of the genocidal party you prefer. Do by all means devote yourselves to working against the Jewish state. Do by all means work against the state if you feel it has no right to exist. Do by all means close your eyes to the truth, ignore analysis, conceal facts. Do all of this and more. Just don’t do it during your working hours.
Want to know why? Because we – news consumers, taxpayers, TV licence-payers, supporters of democracy and principle, quite simply – are worth a whole lot more. Your persistent drive to conceal the truth, while ostensibly performing your duty to report the truth, is a crystal-clear sign that you do not respect the Swedish public – or even our democracy.
A bloody, tragic conflict isn’t exactly helped by professional agitators using their workplace to deliberately inflame the situation. Compassion, consensus, harmony, cooperation, working together for the common good – none of this benefits from people whipping up sentiment and nurturing a climate of hatred.
But above all I and other keen supporters of democracy, honesty and ethics in Sweden are worried that the rot is so deeply entrenched – that a few key media players feel they have the right to exert a kind of thought monopoly, impose censorship regarding news about Israel – and ONLY about the Jewish state of Israel.
The media have a responsibility. Media that cannot operate responsibly represent a threat. A threat to the Swedish public. Which ultimately means a threat to the Swedish state. Because when you start operating in accordance with your own political agenda in ONE area, creating and pursuing a parallel foreign policy outside that of the nation’s elected representatives, it is only a small step to abuse of this powerful, lethal weapon in other areas too.
Aftonbladet, TT and SVT: do a course in journalistic ethics, in humanity, compassion and the importance of principle.
Or resign – the whole lot of you.
It’s not just about reporting objectively on the world’s most infected conflict – infected largely because of the way you have consistently misrepresented it over the years. Rather, it’s about restoring some semblance of credibility to your profession.
Because today, your credibility is rock-bottom.
Thank you for your attention.