Putting Swedish justice into perspective

The right to earn an income is more worthy of the Swedish Chancellor of Justice’s direct intervention and legal proceedings, than the right of Swedish Jews to live in safety without having their lives threatened.

That appears to be the emerging truth in the ongoing saga of Swedish Chancellor of Justice Mr Göran Lambertz and the legal cases to which he chooses to lend the weight of his office.

Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz went on record in April 2006 as saying that Muslim Swedish calls to kill Jews – in Sweden – should be seen in the context of a conflict taking place 3000 kilometres away on a different continent in which no Swedes of any description are involved. He opined that such statements “should be judged differently, and therefore be regarded as permissible, because they are used by one side in an ongoing and far-reaching conflict where calls to arms and invectives are part of the everyday climate in the rhetoric that surrounds this conflict.”

Less than a month later the Chancellor of Justice, in a remarkable departure from the protocol of his office, micro-managed the case of an individual by suggesting it might be advisable to institute legal proceedings against a Swedish tabloid that published unfounded allegations of alcohol abuse against a renowned Swedish actor, on the grounds that such allegations could seriously damage the actor’s reputation and ability to earn an income. The Chancellor who declined to use his powers to defend the lives of Jews in Sweden apparently decided there was more merit to defending an actor’s good name so he could earn an income.

Sweden recently axed a long-planned peacekeeping drill with the several European air forces because the Israeli Air Force was also participating, although both Sweden and Israel took part in a similar exercise just last year in Canada. However, last year was not election year in Sweden. 2006 is, and the governing Social Democrats are trailing in the polls, with elections scheduled in mid-September.

A fortnight after pulling out of the long-scheduled air drill, Sweden contravened the EU and Schengen signatory states, violating international agreements to give the terror-branded Hamas Minister of Refugees an entry visa to Sweden. In that capacity, the minister, Mr Atef Adwan, came to Sweden to request support for something that has never previously existed in history, an independent Palestinian Arab state. As Minister of Refugees, however, Mr Adwan came to Sweden to structure his vision of how that Palestinian state should come about: through mass immigration of Palestinian Arabs into Israel – a country his Hamas government does not recognize, that it has sworn to replace with an Islamic state, against which it conducts a relentless war of terror, and whose Jews it has vowed to drive into the sea. It was to this Hamas representative that Sweden gave an entry visa, over the subsequent and strongly worded objections of allies such as Germany and France.

Sweden’s view of what constitutes justice thus seems to be at odds with that of its most vulnerable citizens, with that of its major European allies, and with the nation’s most fundamental concerns, such as whether income is prized more highly than life is.

When requested to comment on the apparent disparity between his handling of the two cases, the Chancellor of Justice replied that they deal with entirely different issues. In the case of the actor, the issue was one of libel, whereas in the case of calls for death to Jews emanating from the Stockholm mosque, the issue was one of racial incitement, and according to the Chancellor the allegations could not be proven. However, the reason the allegations could not be proven was because his office declined to insist on proper translation of the material from Arabic into Swedish. The Chancellor also pointed out that the two cases were examined “within the framework stipulated by the applicable regulations, and their assessment has been strictly objective”. He pointed out that “the criterion of ‘social relevance’ is not applicable when the issue under consideration is that of racial incitement”.

The Chancellor of Justice’s actions – or indeed lack of action – need to be examined against the background of what has emerged as a swing in Swedish policy towards Israel, the Swedish media’s keenness to obliterate the distinction between “Jew” and “Israeli”, and the resultant animosity to Jews and Israelis alike that is increasingly rife in this Scandinavian country. A brief examination of recent events in April and May 2006 makes for interesting reading:

Low-level Palestinian functionary Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil was denied a visa into Sweden, following immense protests not least from EU and Schengen member state France, and from many concerned Swedish citizens. Sweden responded by denying him a visa – but instead granting a visa to high-ranking Hamas minister Atef Adwan.

A Swedish Muslim politician for the Centre party demanded the imposition of Sharia law for the country’s Muslims. Initially including, but not limited to, legislation banning boys and girls from studying in the same classes, restructuring of inheritance law so men get two-thirds and women one-third since “we all know it is the duty of the man to look after the woman”, and altering of divorce law so divorce can no longer be granted by this country’s civil authorities.

Leading Labour daily Aftonbladet wrote (15 May) that in a Gaza Strip that has become an “emergency catastrophe area” owing to Israel’s “blockade”, it has now become necessary for Palestinian women to sell their gold and jewellery to finance the purchase of essentials such as water, food and medicine. It went on to say that the people profiting from this callous trade were the very people who erected the “ghetto wall” around Gaza – Israel’s Jews. It was a frightening throwback to classic Nazi-era vilification of the Jew as responsible for the suffering of non-Jews. No mention was made in the article about the remarkable ease with which weapons, dynamite, rockets and ammunition are smuggled into the Gaza Strip – apparently only food and medicine could not be smuggled in because of Israel’s hermetically sealed border and its “blockade”. A blockade, apparently, that did prevent food and medicine from getting in, but not a poor Palestinian woman’s gold from getting out to the avaricious Jews on the other side of the “ghetto wall” waiting to grab it.

Although Sweden declined to participate in an international air drill together with the Jewish state, Sweden had no compunction about participating in joint military exercises with Russia, which is currently waging a brutal war in Chechnya. Nor did Sweden draw the line at selling highly advanced military equipment to Saudi Arabia. And interestingly, the second-largest market for dual-purpose heavy-duty trucks from a major Swedish truck maker is Iran.

It is therefore perhaps unfair to point the finger of blame solely at Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz. He does not operate in a vacuum of his own making but is instead part of the wider Swedish malaise whereby both Sweden’s Jews and Sweden’s relations with Israel are called upon to pay the price as election time draws near.

Sweden is renowned for its pragmatism. Principle, unfortunately, gets to play second fiddle.