Friday, April 9, 2010

Will Mayor Reepalu Now Become the Malmö Jews’ Savior?

A few weeks ago Malmö's Mayor Ilmar Reepalu wrote a letter to the Swedish government in which he requested extra financial aid for the security of the Jewish community. The Minister of Justice, Beatrice Ask (Moderate Party), has now responded that the government will not contribute extra money for the security of Malmö Jews.

                                                                                                         Justice Minister Beatrice Ask

The Jewish community in Malmö has lately been under increased surveillance due to the rising number of hate crimes against it members. Recently the community leadership stated that it has spent some 2.8 million Swedish Kronor (nearly $400,000) on security expenses. They also stated that an additional half a million SEK (almost $70,000) will be will be spent yearly for extra security enforcement. These are large sums for a community that holds no more than some 650 members.

According to the Swedish daily newspaper Sydsvenskan it was already apparent in a recent TV debate between Göran Hägglund (Christian Democrat) and Mona Sahlin (Social Democrat) that no aid would be provided by the government to the community.

Ilmar Reepalu's response to Beatrice Ask's decision was:
-"She is not even going to investigate if the state can cover the security expenses of the synagogue. This is peculiar.”

According to the Minister of Justice herself, the responsibility should instead lie within the Skåne Police force which is responsible for stopping hate crime from happening in the first place. She further states that Skåne, during the new government term, has received 400 new police men who should be able to keep the Jews in Malmö safe. This the second reason for her decision to not fund the community’s security expenses.

Reepalu, on the other hand, argues that this is just a way for the Justice Minister to shift the responsibility onto the police instead of on herself or the government.

While Reepalu recently may have been trying to portray himself as a close friend of the Malmö Jewish community, one can not help but remember that he just recently, in the beginning of the year, made some arguably very anti-Semitic statements. Now that the Swedish government has decided not to help pay security costs for the Jewish community, one can also not help but worry. If Ilmar Reepalu, a person who seems unable to differentiate the Jews in Malmo from the politics of Israel, is the only one that the Jews can turn to, the future of the Malmö Jewish community does not look too bright.

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