Friday, February 26, 2010

The Multiple Truths of Ilmar Reepalu

On Thursday the mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu (Social Democrat) met with representatives of the local Jewish community to explain what he had and had not said in connection with the major increase of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city.

Local daily Sydsvenskan published an interview with Reepalu in which he changed his opinion on the situation of Jews as compared to what he said in an interview a few days before with the Telegraph.

On February 21 he told the British daily

- "There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo."

In Sydsvenskan on February 25 his opinion had evolved:

- “Of course it is a problem if people move from Malmö because they don’t feel safe here."

When asked by Sydsvenskan yesterday about whether or not there have been attacks on Jews he declared that:

For Reepalu the truth is flexible. He now refers to last year’s Davis Cup tennis game between Sweden and Israel as an occasion where Jews were attacked due to the political situation in the Middle East. In an interview in the daily Skånskan on January 27, he stated:

- "I wish that the Jewish community distanced itself from Israel's violence against the civil population in Gaza". This, Reepalu claimed, would 'cure' hate crimes from happening against them".

This was tantamount to saying that the attacked Jews are guilty of the aggression against them committed mainly by extremely violent Muslims in Malmö. Reepalu is not on record however of having ever asked the city’s many Muslims to distance themselves publicly from the massive genocide in Darfur committed by Muslims against other Muslims.

Reepalu, who has in the past weeks been heavily criticized for his statements concerning the Jews and anti-Semitism in Malmö did initially claim on February 14, that he had been misinterpreted in his interview with Skånskan journalist Andreas Lovén.

The journalist had taped parts of the interview as he felt it was a sensitive subject and he “didn’t want to risk that Reepalu later would claim that he had been misinterpreted or quoted wrongly”.

According to Lovén, Reepalu “had the possibility to say whatever he wanted in the interview” and “he could for example have taken a stance against anti-Semitism”- which he did not do. Instead he put the blame on the police, school and the religious communities.

After the meeting with the Jewish community in Malmö yesterday, Reepalu argued that:

- “We should have had this meeting a long time ago. I have not been sufficiently informed about the seriousness of the situation”.

Is it possible that the mayor of Malmö has not been sufficiently informed?

In April 2009 the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs” Institute for Global Jewish Affairs wrote in a special edition of their Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism publication titled: “The Gaza War and the New Ouburst of Anti-Semitism” that in Malmö, Social Democrat parliamentarian and party colleague of Reepalu, Luciano Astudillo, spoke as someone next to him held up a picture of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The article mentions also several violent anti-Semitic attacks in the Southern Region of Sweden: “In Helsingborg, the staircase at a Jewish center was set on fire. In Malmö, a Jewish burial chapel was attacked three times.”

As can be read in the text written by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Tamas Berzi, even after the Gaza war the anti-Semitic incidents continued in Malmö. An example of this was when: “an authorized pro-Israeli demonstration in Malmö was attacked by unauthorized anti-Israeli protesters. Rather than protecting those who were exercising their right, the police dispersed both groups. Ted Ekeroth, a blogger, showed how another pro-Israeli demonstration in the same city was attacked by a group who hurled pipe bombs and projectiles at them.”

A headline of today’s news about Reepalu reads “I was not sufficiently informed.” It once again proves that for Reepalu the truth is flexible and depends on who he speaks with. It seems that also the members of the Jewish community had a hard time believing Reepalu’s words as Fred Kahn and Fredrik Sieradzki welcomed the mayor’s initiative with a cautious comment. “This is the beginning of a process. We'll see where it leads.”

To conclude: Reepalu has finally managed to make Malmö internationally known in its capacity of a hotbed of anti-Semitism. It is also likely that we will read many more truths from Reepalu when other newspapers will come to interview him.

1 comment:

  1. Hello From Lille, France

    I am very chocked and very upset that juws leave Swenden and especially MalmÖ. As a Mayor you strongly show your agreement with the antisemit attakcs against any jews. Your hipocrite speech don't convince anyone.

    Corinne Cohen