Monday, March 8, 2010

Malmö Jewish community once again disappointed with Ilmar Reepalu

Last week on the  Danish TV show “Lorry”, Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu argued that there is an “Israeli lobby” which purposely distorted his recent statement about anti-Semitism in Malmö. His latest choice of words was very inappropriate—he contended that there is an “Israeli lobby” which controls the media.  This is a canard popular with anti-Semites, but it really adds insult to injury as he recently met with representatives from the Malmö Jewish community to talk about the rising anti-Semitic atmosphere in the city.

As stated in “The Local”, an English daily online newspaper on Sweden:

“Reepalu and the Jewish Community (Judiska församlingen) have been at cross purposes of late after the mayor drew parallels in newspaper interviews between anti-Semitism and Zionism”.

Still, after their meeting with Reepalu about a little more than week ago, the representatives from the Jewish community felt satisfied with  the meeting’s outcome where, among other concerns,  they discussed the dialogue forum which Reepalu has initiated as a response to growing anti-Semitic sentiments in Malmö.  

Reepalu’s latest statement, however, has once again stirred up the confusion the Jewish community has concerning Reepalu’s agenda and has also resulted in a letter of complaint (an official English version has yet to be published).

The letter (below, translated from Swedish) was also sent to Reepalu’s party leader, Mona Sahlin of the Social Democrats,  and to the chairman of the new dialogue forum, Björn Lagerbäck (Popular People’s Party - the liberals)

Dear Ilmar Reepalu,

We were quite optimistic after last week’s sincere and constructive discussion as well as with the work we have begun which the municipality has agreed upon, for a dialogue forum under the guidance of Björn Lagerbäck.
We want to emphazise strongly that we clearly reject and condemn all sorts of threats and harassments be they against individuals, elected representatives or politicians.
On the other hand, we were very disappointed by your statement on Danish TV2 on March 1, 2010 (see link below) where you indicate that “the Israeli lobby” is behind the distortion of what you have said in the media. This choice of words is used by anti-Jewish, if not anti-Semitic forces which assert that the Jews hold the power in the media.
It was exactly this kind of statement that we described to you as a statement you should avoid in order to not be misinterpreted by those who would use this as a reason to aim threats and harassments against Swedes of Jewish origin.

Best wishes
Fred Kahn and Fredrik Sieradzki
Jewish Community in Malmö

For the original version of the letter click here 

In summary, rather than acting as an honest broker promoting dialogue between the Islamic and Jewish communities, Reepalu is further inflaming the restless atmosphere in Malmö with this anti-Semitic conspiracy canard.

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