Sweden’s Aftonbladet: an ideology in search of a newspaper

And, not surprisingly, a good translator.

Aftonbladet’s journalistic ethics are matched by the shoddiness of its translations.

For the background in a nutshell, see this 2-minute long film.

After first leveling what can only be described as a Mediaeval blood-libel against the Jewish state and Jews everywhere, the extreme Left-wing tabloid achieved pariah status among professional journalists and newspapers the world over for the extreme shoddiness of its research work and ethics.

Now the paper, instead of backing down from its indefensible anti-Semitic stance, has decided to up the ante by translating its infamous article into English.

Well, a sort of English. This is, after all, Aftonbladet, where professionalism is not a word that is terribly familiar in the editorial office. Even extreme-Left writer Gideon Levy of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, no friend of the Israeli government, was scathing in his blistering condemnation of the shoddy work done by both Aftonbladet and Boström, and called into question the motive behind such obvious fabrications and idiotically tenuous links where none exist.

What Aftonbladet has done is to compound its calumny by filtering out the most offensive parts of its article in the transition from Swedish to English. Anyone reading the English text gets a substantially different impression than someone reading the Swedish.

Jonathan Leman has comments and examples of Aftonbladet’s deliberate dishonesty (search halfway down the Swedish comments for a rough English translation). So too do many other sources.

And the results were not long in coming: Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority and many others in the Muslim sphere – all are happily publishing the carefully re-orchestrated text, one that is almost mild and reasoned compared with the Swedish original.

That’s what happens when you leave political ideology in the hands of the unscrupulous. Ethics, professionalism, hard work, burden of evidence, corroboration – all foreign concepts to Aftonbladet.

In whatever language they choose to insult our intelligence.

What is notable is that Aftonbladet’s infamous allegations – which even the article’s author Donald Boström himself admits are entirely unfounded – met with stony silence from Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and indeed the government. Carl Bildt maintains that freedom of expression is an unassailable right in Sweden and that the government do not comment on articles in the press.

And of course he is absolutely right. Well, up to a point. Because Bildt and the rest of the government have chosen not to avail themselves of the same right. Not when it is Jews who are under vicious attack.

The very same Carl Bildt, however, had no compunctions whatsoever about weighing in against the press when he himself was the target of what he felt were unfair media accusations. Swedish Christian newspaper “Världen idag” today ran an editorial that provided several examples of Bildt’s highly public comments in the press and his utilisation of freedom of expression in which he commented on the articles about him. Among his less diplomatic comments: “Dishonest TV journalism” and “You (reporters) have to admit your errors and show a sense of judgement“. All very well – when it benefits Carl Bildt. Outspoken when it suits him, tightlipped when it doesn’t.

Ultimately, of course, this scandal is not really about Aftonbladet. There will always be substandard newspapers that will sell their souls for a few extra copies. That’s par for the course. And it’s not about the article’s author, Donald Boström, who is a self-admitted pro-Palestinian who campaigns against the Jewish state. Unethical people will always abuse their positions of trust to deceive others.

What this actually is about, is the position of the Swedish state. It is, after all, the Swedish Foreign Ministry along with various Church of Sweden organisations that financed the book in which Boström first made his allegations back in 2001. This finance came from Sweden’s public coffers. And it is these same instances that are now refusing to make a simple comment on the affair, to clarify their feelings on the unsubstantiated claims in the article.

Use of public funds to finance a calumny, then tight-lipped silence on the anti-Semitic result, has analysts the world over wondering just where Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt really stands.

It doesn’t bode well for Carl Bildt, a consummate politician who regards his post as Foreign Minister as a mere stepping-stone to bigger and better things on the grander world stage.

This Conservative Party minister is right now the absolute darling of the Swedish extreme Left and of radical Islamists the world over.

Political expediency makes strange bedfellows indeed.

Haaretz, Världen idag, Jonathan Leman, The New Republic, NWT (in Swedish)