The Swedish recipe: all children are equal, unless they are Israelis

Swedish Foreign Minister Ms Laila Freivalds will shortly be visiting Ramallah to enlist Yasser Arafat’s help in ending the anguish of a Swedish mother whose five children were kidnapped by her estranged Palestinian husband and are being held hostage in Gaza under armed guard.

Ms Freivalds is to be commended for playing such a personal role in the wellbeing of young children. She deserves every best wish in her endeavour. She will hopefully be able to bring about a happy resolution to the agony of a mother who has had her children taken away – albeit temporarily – and that she will be thus able to alleviate the fear and anxiety of the children themselves, the youngest a mere 6 years old.

What seems strange in this context, however, is that the Swedish Foreign Minister has apparently never been equally moved to make a similarly personal appeal to Yasser Arafat to end the indiscriminate killing of Israeli children on streets, in buses, at parties, at religious celebrations. This despite the murder of a Swedish citizen and the attempted murder of several others at a Pesach celebration in Netanya, and the murder of a 20 year-old Swedish citizen at an Egged bus stop in Israel. All carried out by Palestinian terrorists closely or loosely affiliated with Yasser Arafat. These victims – many of them children under school age – are not being temporarily held against their will by estranged family members – they have been murdered, their families will never see them again.

It would be absurd to suggest that Ms Freivalds is anti-Semitic or that she reflects an anti-Semitic Swedish government. However, it cannot take much imagination to realise that this is precisely the kind of subtle signal that is – quite correctly – interpreted by Islamist fanatics in Sweden and elsewhere that they are immune regardless of their actions and that Europe applies one yardstick to Jews and Israelis and quite another to Muslims and Palestinians.

Swedish Foreign Minister Freivalds deserves all the support she can muster in the delicate task facing her. It would be so much more of a credit to her government if she were to apply the same dedication to Israelis suffering in the same way – children and parents alike.

Quiet diplomatic support and off-the-record words of encouragement to Swedish and Israeli Jews not only do not go far enough – it is the very absence of outright public support that by definition encourages a growing anti-Semitic undercurrent among extreme Islamists in Sweden and abroad.