Last year, when Israel played Sweden in the Davis Cup Games in Malmö, Ingalill Bjartén (Social Democrat) was one of the people that demonstrated outside the Malmö arena and publicly compared Israelis with the Nazis. Bjartén is a Social Democrat but also Vice President for the organization Social Democratic Women (S-kvinnor) in Skåne county. According to Jonathan Leman, who is a representative of the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism; Ingalill Bjartén’s public statements are largely representative of the new way of thinking in Sweden which can be identified as anti-Semitic.
“Israel is an apartheid state. I compare Gaza to the Warsaw ghetto. It is surprising that Israel—where a large part of the population was exposed to the Nazis—is able to do the exact same thing as the Nazis.”
She also called for a boycott of Israeli goods as according to her;
“Israel is butchering children and adults. Those who claim that politics and sport are not connected are unaware of the reality.”
Ingalill Bjartén has also gotten criticism from Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan. According to him; “she is using the same rhetoric as Iran’s leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”.
While Leman acknowledged in an interview with Sydsvenskan that “people have to be able to criticize Israel as much as they want without being named an anti-Semite”, Bjartén’s comparison of Israel to the Nazis is, according to him, crossing the line. According to Leman, doing just this can be seen as a way to mock the survivors of the Holocaust and part of rhetoric which portrays the Jews and the Israelis as inhuman.
Due to criticism of her anti-Semitic statements, Bjartén consequently decided to quit her post. While she at least seems to have acknowledged her stupidity, Malmö’s Mayor, Ilmar Reepalu (Social Democrat) still refuses to do the same.
Ilmar Reepalu does, arguably, have the exact same mindset as Bjartén and has, for example, encouraged the Jewish community, after an upswing in anti-Semitic hate crimes in Malmö this year, to take a stance against Israel. He is arguing that the Jews have themselves to blame for the aggression against them. He then only shortly after stated that Malmö is a city which “does not accept anti-Semitism nor Zionism” which is the same as saying that thoughts of Jewish nationhood are synonymous to religious hate crime. Some weeks ago he also stated that there is an Israeli lobby which is out to get him. This statement is, according Professor of the History of Ideas and Science at Lund University, Henrik Bachner, a problematic statement as it is used in anti-Jewish arguments in Europe and the world. The aforementioned statement also suggests that there is a Jewish conspiracy that rules media, politics and consciously manipulates the opinions of the people.
The mayor has up until now, still not apologized for any of his statements nor his stupidity and it does not appear likely that he ever will. Unfortunately for Malmö, Sweden and the fight against racism it does not look like he intends to step down.