Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The State Should Pay for the Jews’ Security

On 22 March Siewert Öholm, the editor of the Christian newspaper Världen Idag, wrote an article about what it was like to visit the Jewish community in Göteborg, Sweden’s second largest city.
Öholm got in a cab to go to a gathering at the Jewish community center in central Göteborg. He gave the address to the driver, yet the cab did not stop outside the closed off entrance. “I am not allowed to pull up here” the driver explained. Öholm was dropped of half a block away from the Jewish center that was guarded by police cars and concrete barriers.

This was a normal night at the center with ordinary communal meeting activities; there was neither a religious service, nor any meeting in which important people or politicians were participating.                                                       

What happened next came as a further shock to Öholm. To be let in to the Jewish community building he first had to ring a bell and was asked over a loudspeaker to state who he was and what the purpose of his visit was. He then proceeded into a security room. When he was inside this room the outside door was locked. He was then once again further questioned via a camera with loudspeaker. Thereafter he was ushered into a security corridor which led to the hall in which he and some hundreds of others would gather for a meeting.

The security measures awakened Öholm’s anger. He suddenly realized that “the personal security which I thought was obvious in a democracy is not there for everyone… definitely not for the Swedish Jews and especially not the Jews residing in Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö.”

In Sweden these are special security laws concerning for example churches and women. Yet there is no security legislation that concerns synagogues nor are there civil demands on society to provide protection to the Jews in the country.

The Jewish communities have to pay millions of Swedish Kronor for these security measures from their own budget. Öholm writes: “what other church or community would agree to pay for build-in security rooms and camera surveillance?”

Although the members of the Jewish communities pay their taxes like any one else, their safety is not guaranteed when visiting their synagogues or community centres. This unless they want to pay for the security themselves.

Öholm’s story of security at the Göteborg Jewish community recalls the daily threats that the Jews in Sweden have to face alone. Öholm remarks: “to say that the Jews have to pay for security themselves means the same as stating that they are responsible for the threats against them.” He argues that security for the Jews should be paid for by the Swedish state until it is no longer needed. This is what can be expected from a democracy which is responsible for the security of all of its citizens.

Source: Världen Idag

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