Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Pitfalls of State-Sponsored Journalism

Mathan Ravid’s analysis of the Swedish-Iranian Mana journal affair and Mana’s financial support by the Kulturrådet, the Swedish government’s Arts Council, reflects a number of issues we have reported previously in this blog.

As a background note, we should first explain that the Swedish government has a policy of giving out subsidies to the print media. The EU has warned Sweden to cut these subsidies which “distort competition”, which was reported last year in The Local. For our purposes, these subsidies fall into two general categories; newspapers and cultural media.

As we reported in April, as long as newspapers demonstrate they have enough subscribers (at least 2,000), they can receive press subsidies, regardless of the content they publish. For example, the National Democrats who publish Nationell Idag, have  published works of Holocaust denial and the recently popular 9/11 CIA conspiracy lunacy. [With thanks to the bloggers at Reason for book link.] And, as we recently saw in this blog, far-left terrorist activists such as Jan Guillou have an opportunity to advocate for a “one-state” no-more-Israel solution in Aftonbladet.

Regarding cultural media, the Swedish government lists in its “Areas of operation” the noble objective of making culture available to all members of Swedish society. And so, the Swedish government puts its money where its mouth is, to the tune of around SEK 5.5 billion each year, which is nearly $750 million (USD). While a chunk of this money goes to museums, theatre, dance, music and the arts, the Swedish government is also interested in cultural journals:

Arts periodicals provide a forum for debate, allowing many different voices to be heard. Yet in Sweden it is often difficult to get hold of these periodicals in shops or from news stands. As such, the Council is working to increase the distribution and reading of arts periodicals. It does this by offering subscription grants for municipal libraries, providing funding for improved distribution and support for periodicals workshops owned jointly by the periodicals themselves. In these, editorial teams can provide mutual help with production, marketing and skills development. In addition there are production grants given to a great number of arts periodicals.”

So, the Arts Council is actively involved in the production, promotion, and distribution of culture in an attempt to increase cultural awareness for everyone, everywhere. They are holding hands with these scribbling culture-venders, practically sharpening their pencils for them, inking the presses, and finally flinging the magazines off the truck at the public library and shoving them under the noses of Swedish readers.

Now we turn to an actual case where a cultural publication was under scrutiny as it was slated for funding by the Kulturrådet; in this case it was The Swedish-Iranian journal, Mana which we mentioned at the beginning of this post:

” a debate erupted in the Swedish media at the beginning of 2008. The trigger was a reservation expressed by a member of the...Kulturrådet…Freelance journalist Dilsa Demirbag-Sten came out against a proposal to grant state funding to the journal Mana, which claims to be antiracist. She asserted that Mana ‘contains a heated rhetoric and glides between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.’… noting ‘Mana's strong anti-Semitic tendencies and pure conspiratorial fantasies."

As Ravid further notes:

Mana is owned by the Iranian-Swedish Solidarity Association (ISS). It was founded in 1998 as a journal in Swedish by Iranians on Iran and the situation of Iranians in Sweden, but nowadays it also discusses topics such as racism…Although Mana has no explicit political affiliation, it is clearly on the left of the political spectrum.“

It seems that Mana publishes (now with the help of the Kulturrådet pencil-sharpeners) articles in which Israel was accused of perpetrating Nazi-like crimes against the Palestinians. Not very much culture in that item, but Mana came closer to its arts mandate with this regarding Lars Vilks:

Mana's Joacim Blomqvist claimed - as did Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - that it was actually Israel that in 2007 was behind the Swedish artist Lars Vilks's depictions of the Prophet Muhammad as a roundabout dog,”

Not surprisingly Ravid notes that, Mana was hotly defended by its staff which claimed that there was no anti-Semitism, only legitimate criticism of Israel, despite abundant citations to the contrary, with classic anti-Semitic smears in addition to the Holocaust inversion accusations. Dagens Nyheter protested the accusation as did Aftonbladet, of course; both vigorously defended Mana.

This disturbing loyalty, Ravid observes, shows that,

“Time and again, when anti-Semitism proves to be alive and manifests itself outside extreme-Right circles, some are impelled to make aggressive denials. Some of the motifs found in Mana are virtually the same as those found in far-Right [or neo-Nazi] propaganda.”

This has been the crux of much of what this blog has reported critically, especially regarding the humanitarian racist positions typified in the press by Aftonbladet and in the political leftist elite by the Social Democrats. Leftist overblown self-confidence in its righteousness allows it to arrogantly assume the moral high ground with a total disregard for the facts. This is why Swedish Ship to Gaza activists, such as the self-glorifying and unscathed Henning Mankell, have portrayed themselves as peace-loving victims of “Israeli brutality” while sailing off with violent armed jihadists to aid the opening of an unrestricted gun-running port for Hamas’ totalitarian Iranian proxy state in Gaza.

There will be no end to the demonization of Israel and the justification of attacks on Jews in Sweden as long as government bodies in Sweden continue to support and defend anti-Semitic press and so-called “culture journals”. After all the hue and cry and public debate, Mana got its subsidy.

By Chanah Shapira

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