Monday, March 15, 2010

Openly Identifying as a Jew is Dangerous in Malmö

The Christian Norwegian daily Dagen Magazinet published an article  last week  in which a young Jewish woman from the Malmö Jewish community was interviewed and asked about her experiences with anti-Semitism in the city.

The young 23-year-old woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, calls herself “Lena” and explains that she is too scared to show her face in the newspaper as it could be dangerous for her. This is a result of events in Malmö, especially in the past year. According to Lena:

 “In the last few years, most Jewish children and youth in the city have been subjected to various degrees of intimidation, harassment, abuse and violence.

One of the stories which Lena tells Dagen Magazinet concerns her little brother who last summer was abused by a gang of Muslims youths:

“Last summer my little brother (17) was abused and tormented by a gang of Muslim boys from Somalia…When they realized he was Jewish they started shouting “We will kill you, you fucking Jew” and tackled him.

Lena’s father has also been subjected to threats. Last year, during the Israeli peace demonstration held by the Malmö Jewish community, he was threatened with death and bottles were thrown at him. One of these bottles hit Lena in the leg.

Still, according to Lena, such extreme things do not happen every day. The worst might, according to her, be to “meet daily with hateful and murderous looks from Arabs”. Now she is even too scared to take a taxi in the city as the drivers often are Arabs.

She is also too scared to publicly display her Star of David necklace:

“I cannot go and buy fruit at the market with the Star of David around my neck. It is asking for trouble” she states in the interview with Dagen Magazinet.

While many of her Jewish friends feel that Malmö holds no future for the Jews, Lena, on the other hand, argues that the Jews “must stand up and resist” the threat. In a town where there are some 50,000 Muslims inhabitants and only about 700 Jews this might be a task too hard to handle; this is arguably also why some Jews already have decided to leave the city. In the interview Lena was too scared to even show her face which shows that the threat against the Jews in Malmö is frighteningly real.

Arguably, the threat against the Jews is not something that the Malmö Jewish community should have to deal with by itself, but something that the Malmö authorities should actively seek to stop. Yet as long as Ilmar Reepalu (Social Democrat) holds the position as Malmö’s Mayor, Jewish youth in Malmö might have to learn the hard way to stand up on their own and resist these dangerous threats. Others may however already have come to the conclusion that they are much better off elsewhere.

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