The many acts of anti-Semitism in Malmö have recently made headlines in several international media. On February 14, Mona Sahlin, party leader of the Social Democrats visited Malmö to talk to the representatives of the local Jewish community about the anti-Semitic environment in the city. Central in the meeting was the conversation about the dialogue forum that members of the municipal council and Social Democrat mayor Ilmar Reepalu recently started to promote as a “cure” for the many hate crimes against Jews in Malmö.
In the meeting the representatives of the Jewish community wanted to get some clarity about Mona Sahlin’s stance on the much criticized statements made by her party colleague Reepalu on anti-Semitism and Jews in the city.
Reepalu was already subjected to much critique after he tried, at the beginning of 2009, to prevent the Davis Cup game between Sweden and Israel taking place in the town. He ultimately also contributed to the final decision that the tennis game was to be played without any public present. This decision not only caused the city a major loss of revenues but also showed Reepalu to be an advocate for anti-Israeli positions. Recently in an interview with the daily Skånskan he stated that Malmö is a city that “does not tolerate Zionism nor anti-Semitism”.
This statement was so absurd that after a while even Reepalu realized this. He then withdrew it in an interview with the daily Sydsvenskan.
Reepalu has further tried to encourage the Jews in Malmö to take – like himself – a strong stance against Israel’s actions in the Gaza war. He commented that in this way the Jews would prevent hate crimes against them. This is tantamount to saying that the attacked Jews are guilty of the aggression against them committed mainly by extremely violent Muslims.
During the meeting Sahlin did not condemn the perverse position of her party colleague. Instead she stated that she will encourage Reepalu to promote the dialogue forum he thinks will solve Malmö’s problems of anti-Semitism. This forum has been criticized for instance by the member of the municipal council on behalf of the Liberal People’s Party, Ewa Bertz, for lacking credibility as it has no politicians as members.
It is apparent that the representatives of the Jewish community expected an apology from Sahlin for her party colleague’s offensive statements. This was expressed by Fredrik Sieradzki, Fred Kahn and Jehoshua Kaufman: “We do not need a dialogue forum, we need to know what Reepalu has said and not said and what he thinks”.
Mona Sahlin’s seemingly showed an intention of goodwill by initiating the meeting. Without a strong condemnation of Reepalu’s statements it is however difficult to believe that Sahlin is genuinely interested in making an effort to stop the massive anti-Semitism in Malmö. As long as she remains silent on the Social Democrat mayor’s misbehavior she will be seen as caring only for the image of her party in the upcoming Swedish national elections in September 2010.