Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

The New Stockholm Syndrome

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

This article was first published in The Jerusalem Report Magazine on 13 June 2013.

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Swedish politicians and the media are paralyzed by fear of even acknowledging the issue of Muslim hooliganism

Stockholm Syndrome is the irrational empathy of a cowed hostage for his captor, his subservient gratitude for not being further debased. The term was coined following a bank robbery in the Swedish capital in August 1973. In the course of that six-day ordeal, the victims bonded with the criminals even as their personal liberties were being trampled on.

That was Sweden, summer of 1973. The victims were alone, afraid, had no contact with the police and depended on their violent abusers for their survival.

Forty years later, summer of 2013, the majority of Swedish society has largely adopted this craven attitude towards violent radical Muslim abusers of their personal liberties.

Muslims. All Swedish Muslims? Far from it. On the contrary, most Swedish Muslims want no truck with the radicalized hooligans who are given a free rein by the country’s politicians and media. Many Swedes – including immigrants from Muslim states – complain that blind Swedish allegiance to political correctness ties the hands of the judiciary.

The media are culpable here. There have been suggestions that left-wing tabloid Aftonbladet offered rioting youths thousands of kronor for “good” photographs of burning cars at the height of the recent urban unrest. One TV journalist documented his refusal to join this “arson auction.” So there is evidence the media are actively fuelling the problem while refusing to spotlight the common denominator – the ethnicity of the arsonists.

The rioters claim their actions are a response to systematic job discrimination. This argument holds little water. Although Sweden is by no means free of xenophobia, this does not translate into the workplace. Not least because most employers here have strong programs to support ethnic diversity. Job applicants at large companies such as Volvo, Scania, AstraZeneca and SKF have a better chance of succeeding if they are from a cultural minority – that’s how keen employers are to demonstrate their dedication to multi-ethnicity.

Ironically, demands to abandon the state religion of Political Correctness are gaining traction among Muslim Swedes, who fled their home countries years ago to escape the extremism now pursuing them in the new wave of Muslim immigration. Many immigrants from Muslim countries openly say what native Swedes don’t dare voice – that whatever their grievances, the thugs need to be made to fear the police, not to be allowed to disrespect them with impunity.

A June 3 editorial in the respected Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet notes that one group of Muslim rioters urged their co-religionists as follows: “The world and the future are yours. The future of the suburbs should not be determined by people who don’t live where you live, don’t have the same surnames you do, don’t look like you do.”

There are signs that the Swedish population, in general, and police officers, ambulance crews and firefighters, in particular, may all turn sharp right in the September 2014 general election because they are on the front line of this ethnic urban warfare, which is being increasingly seen as an attempt to subjugate Swedish society. Ambulances and fire engines are routinely torched and require police protection while performing emergency duties. Even the police have to travel in multiple vehicles, one squad car shielding the other.

How is all this impacting on Sweden’s tiny, embattled Jewish community? Jews have lived here for about 250 years and number about 16,000 souls. They are totally integrated linguistically, culturally and socially. However, the Jewish community is under pressure, nowhere more so than in Malmö, whose Jewish population has virtually halved in the past decade thanks to radicalized Islamists, a virulently anti-Jewish mayor and subjugated mainstream media that consistently ignore the onslaught for fear of being accused of racism.

Something is rotten in the generous state of Sweden when members of its 400,000-strong Muslim community demand that the state deal robustly with Muslim hooliganism, while politicians and the media are paralysed by fear of even acknowledging the issue’s existence.

That fear is eroding Sweden’s democracy. Because, so far, mob rule is winning.

Ilya Meyer, deputy chairman of the West Sweden branch of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association, blogs on Sweden and the Middle East at www.ilyameyer.com

Sweden through Zionist eyes on the eve of a pro-Israel manifestation

Saturday, September 1st, 2012

The following article was first published as an op-ed in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News, and is reprinted here with kind permission from them. The article is in the form of an interview conducted by Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

The article should be read against the background of a pro-Israel manifestation being held in Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden on Sunday 2nd September at 1 pm. A parallel manifestation is being held in the Swedish capital Stockholm.

Interview series: Ilya Meyer, of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association: “The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel warning advising Jews not to travel to Malmö for fear of being attacked”.

“There are no official calls by the Swedish government to discriminate against Israel. The current cabinet, a coalition of conservative, liberal and centrist parties, formally adopts a neutral position in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“This has to be qualified with insight into the distinct Swedish psyche. Swedes are often characterized by two traits: distaste for conflict and total dedication to an all-consuming need for consensus – irrespective of the principles or rights and wrongs of the case. In the Swedish mindset, it is better to preserve consensus and adopt an inappropriate decision than to contradict the majority and insist on an appropriate one, even if this opposition is morally justified.”

Ilya Meyer is Vice-Chair of the Sweden-Israel Friendship Association, West Sweden branch. He is former Chair of the Board of Information of the Gothenburg Jewish Community. He blogs at www.ilyameyer.com.

Meyer observes: “Another consideration must be added: Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who belongs to the Moderates (Conservatives), the coalition’s largest party, has exhibited a consistent rabid anti-Israel position. He is widely regarded in Sweden as a political opportunist and seems to have international ambitions.

“Bildt often serves the interests of Arab and other Muslim countries. He may need their votes to be elected to an important position abroad. Bildt seems to be convinced that overt anti-Israelism will enhance his chances of personal advancement more than allegiance to principle. One example was his visit to Turkey after the illegal attempt by the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara to break the Israel-imposed blockade of the Hamas enclave in Gaza in 2010.

“Bildt ensured he was photographed together with the vessel’s Swedish and Islamist militant activists. Analysts regarded it as rather incongruous for a Moderate Swedish MP to rub shoulders with extreme leftists. They failed to factor in Bildt’s ambitions and his animosity toward Israel.

“Another Moderate politician of similar thinking is Gunilla Carlsson, Minister for International Development and Cooperation. She claimed that ‘Israel destroys EU-funded Palestinian infrastructure.’ Carlsson avoids mentioning why Israel is put in the position of responding to repeated Arab attacks from that infrastructure. She makes no demands on Palestinians to stop using EU-funded infrastructure for staging attacks on Israel.

“Carlsson’s approach appears to be that whatever the Arabs do, Israel’s foremost obligation is to protect Palestinians from the consequences of their own criminal actions. Like many Swedes in leading political and media positions, she does not realize that denying that Palestinian Arabs can be responsible for their actions is inherently racist.

“Labor is Sweden’s main left wing opposition party. The others are the Green Party and the Communist Party – the latter recently rebranded the Left Party in a bid to boost its respectability. All three are vociferous in their constant criticism of the State of Israel. They are outspoken in their desire to officially recognize the State of Palestine should they come to power.

“Labor’s gray eminence Pierre Schori was a protégé of the Israel-bashing Prime Minister Olof Palme. He consistently sings the praises of both Fidel Castro – calling him “one of the greatest leaders in contemporary history” – and Hamas Islamist leader Ismail Haniyeh. In 2009, Schori drew up a five-point plan which demanded punishing international sanctions against Israel. He did not propose any action whatsoever regarding Hamas for its role in firing thousands of missiles into civilian population centers in southern Israel.

“The left-wing opposition finds itself with the strangest of bedfellows: Moderate hardliners like Bildt, fanatic Islamists working to spread Sharia in Sweden, neo-Nazi groups that hate Jews and Muslims with equal fervor, and anarchist fringe groups. They all unite against Israel.

“In a league apart is Ilmar Reepalu, the populist Labor Mayor of Sweden’s third largest city Malmö, where Muslim immigrants are a large minority. In 2009, a Davis Cup tennismatch between Sweden and Israel was scheduled there. Reepalu tried to prohibit thematch. When he failed, he issued a decree that no spectators should attend.

“Reepalu has made frequent anti-Semitic statements. This has prompted the Simon Wiesenthal Center to issue a travel warning advising Jews not to travel to Malmö for fear of being attacked. Moreover, President Obama’s special envoy on anti-Semitism Hannah Rosenthal recently paid a visit to an unrepentant Reepalu to persuade him to abandon or at least moderate his stance.

“There is one political party in Parliament on which all the others have imposed a kind of unofficial boycott: the Sweden Democrats (SD). SD is against mass immigration, primarily from Muslim countries. It is also against circumcision, which impacts both Jews and Muslims. SD is also against kosher slaughter, which is not allowed in Sweden, but SD even wants to prohibit the import of kosher meat, which has clearly anti-Semitic overtones.”

Meyer concludes: “In the media, some churches, state-subsidized NGOs and other parts of the Swedish cultural elite, there are many Israel bashers. Unfortunately, the politicized leadership of the Lutheran Church is particularly virulent in this respect. However, among government coalition parliamentarians, there are a number of Israel supporters. Without them, Swedish Jewry would be in dire straits.”

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.