Stalin’s totalitarian heritage is alive and well – in Sweden.
On Wednesday 14 December 2005 the Jerusalem Post broke the remarkable story that the Speaker of the Swedish Parliament, Björn von Sydow, had announced that all bilateral interparliamentary contacts with the Iranian Parliament had been cut the previous day. This was in the wake of increasingly strident anti-Semitic public statements by Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his ever more frequent calls for the destruction of a fellow UN member state, to wit, Israel.
The Jerusalem Post headline read: “Exclusive: Sweden to cut Iran ties”. Jerusalem is less than five hours flying time from Stockholm, and a mere nanosecond away from the domestic Swedish news wires that should have been clamouring for the story.
Sweden’s censored media
But the story never made it to the papers in Sweden. The reason: Sweden’s only surviving monopoly – we’re talking December 2005 – is TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå), a monolithic ‘news’ organisation ostensibly along the lines of Reuters or AFP, but with one significant difference: it pursues an avowed anti-Israel, anti-American policy line. So what should have been a news item of vital importance about Sweden’s foreign policy in a key international arena was simply quelled by TT. It did not fit in with TT’s agenda of continuous vilification of Israel. Nine million Swedes were held hostage by an organisation with a shadowy agenda that is increasingly emerging as a parallel force in shaping the Swedish psyche and Swedish foreign policy.
TT’s Middle East desk is staffed by journalists with a highly prejudiced, preconceived goal, journalists whose end-game shapes the news that is allowed to filter through to the paying Swedish public.
It is rather telling that the only Swedish newspaper to carry the story a day later was “Dagen”, a Christian newspaper that prides itself on upholding the principles of professional journalism – a story is a story on the merits of it being a story, nothing else.
No other Swedish paper was able to carry the story, because Dagen is one of the few Swedish dailies that does not take all its Middle East input from TT but instead has its own freelance reporter in the region.
TT’s media crimes
TT’s media crimes are legion: 19-year-old Palestinians shot dead by the IDF while using guns or bombs are routinely labelled “children”, while Israeli children such as the five Hatuel children who were executed from a distance of a metre with a bullet each to the head while strapped into the child seats of their car – are labelled “settlers”. Palestinians who deliberately target and kill Israeli civilians are labelled “activists” while Israelis living on the West Bank are labelled “right-wing religious extremists”, even if they’re just on their way to school or work. Israel’s attacks against specific terrorists are termed “targeted murder”, while Palestinian homicide bombings that cause wanton death and destruction among Israeli civilians are termed “actions”, “attacks” or simply “explosions”. On 10 September 2002 TT described the typical Palestinian homicide bomber as “a suffering refugee camp resident … who ends the miserable life Israel has forced upon him in a final defiant fireworks display”. Yes, this is a correct translation – TT refers to wanton homicide bombings against civilians as “fireworks”.
On 26 October this year TT referred to Israel as “the Zionist regime”. The West Bank and Gaza are routinely referred to as “Palestine”.
Systematic misrepresentation of facts
TT routinely mistranslates documents – even documents that are official, openly available and easily verifiable. On 15 October this year, for instance, TT listed the USA’s four demands on Syria’s Baath regime, quoting The Times of Britain as its source. But whereas The Times gave all four demands in their entirety, TT deleted the one which required Syria to end support for Palestinian terror groups, and instead simply divided the first demand into two separate points, to maintain the image of four separate demands.
A few days earlier, on 12 October 2005, TT published a telegram where the following text regarding the Palestinian population was printed (direct translation from TT’s original wording):
“900,000 of the population are refugees, or descendants of refugees, who were driven out of their homes when the State of Israel was formed in 1948.”
However, the above telegram was in its turn a direct Swedish translation from an English text by AFP, but with certain key elements altered by TT. The original AFP telegram reads:
“Around 900,000 of the population are refugees who were expelled or left their homes after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and their children.”
No mention of anyone leaving their homes. The bold-type emphasis is mine; it underscores the difference between journalism and the sort of material that TT routinely disseminates to the paying Swedish public.
Little Middle East news gets past the TT censor. The free media – that is, the media outside Sweden – might want to take a close look at TT. Because the way things are, totalitarianism is alive and well in Sweden – the last bastion of monopolistic news censorship in an otherwise free-market economy.