Mikael Tossavainen, of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism at Tel Aviv University has written a very clear analysis of this year’s debate involving Malmö’s Mayor Ilmar Reepalu. Reepalu and his Social Democrat associates managed to arguably spew out one anti-Semitic canard after another, while protesting their innocence of any prejudiced attitudes regarding the Jewish community in Malmö. As readers of this blog know all too well, Reepalu first set off a storm when—under pressure from the interviewer—he finally admitted that there were anti-Semitic incidents in Malmö. As Tossavainen writes:
“During the interview [which can be read in full here along with the email correspondence] Reepalu hesitated to relate to the situation of the Jews, and spoke instead about racism in general. When pressed by the reporter to make a public statement specifically relating to antisemitism, Reepalu said: ‘We accept neither Zionism nor antisemitism,’ adding that these were extremist supremacist ideologies.”
This was Reepalu’s first classic anti-Semitic statement. The “Zionism is racism” lie perpetrated at the U.N. by the Soviets and the Arab bloc is simply the denial that the Jews have a right to nationhood in their small historical homeland. Its corollary is that Zionism is evil, as we all know that racism is evil. Tossavainen deems this “guilt by association.” The return to the historical homeland of Israel is part of Jewish culture—a fact which is denied by Israel’s would-be delegitimizers, sometimes in excruciating detail. The band Boney M, one of the headliners at last week’s Palestinian festival concert in Ramallah, was asked to cut their hit “By the Rivers of Babylon” from the program, as the chorus “quotes from the Book of Psalms, referring to the exiled Jewish people's yearning to return to the land of Israel.”
Reepalu’s second strike was to blame the Jews in Malmö for the anti-Semitic incidents directed at them, as the Jews in Malmö apparently refused to distance themselves from Israel’s policies during the Gaza incursion to finally counter Hamas rocket attacks on southern Israel. As pointed out in the article:
“Holding Jews living abroad responsible for Israel’s actions also has a long tradition, and was characterized as a form of antisemitism in the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism.19 This approach demands an essentialist perspective of Jews, viewing them as a collective with a common interest and agenda, toward which they work. From this viewpoint, all Jews can be blamed collectively for what some Jews do, since all Jews are perceived to be the same.”
And, of course, it’s then the fault of Jews when an Arab mob throws rockets and bottles at a peaceful rally of Jewish citizens in Malmö, or when Hamas rockets hit homes and schools in Sderot or Beersheva, or strike near the power plant in Ashkelon which supplies Gazans with more than 70% of their electricity.
The third classic anti-Semitic device Reepalu used was to blame the “Israel lobby” for conducting a smear campaign against him as a result of his statements. Tossavainen notes the parallel with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forgery concocted by the Czarist Russian secret police, which claimed that there was a powerful united Jewish conspiracy for world domination. This is an assertion so ridiculous that it’s barely worth refuting, although we can say that if it were true, there certainly would be no need for the Roth Institute to publish papers (or for this blog)..
Tossavainen does not claim that using these anti-Semitic tropes defines Reepalu as total anti-Semite. The article is more concerned with the reactions of the left, and problems of perception. As we discussed in our post covering Mathan Ravid’s article, it seems that Swedes are quick to condemn anti-Semitism when it comes down the street in jackboots with a swastika pasted on for easy identification, but they are unable to identify the same falsehoods coming from leftist comrades. When those on the far left use the classic anti-Semitic falsehoods as the far right, but under the guise of anti-Zionism, it is simply not perceived as the same bigotry in a different uniform.
It’s pretty hard to see the difference between the reactionary, rightwing element that produced the Protocols and socialists who express themselves in the blog Jinge with insane conspiracy fantasies. Tossavainen writes:
"According to Jinge, the power of Israel lobbyists is not limited to the Swedish public discourse. Referring to the unrest on the Egyptian border with Gaza in January 2010, Jan-Inge Flücht claimed: ‘Israel has also given the US orders to tell its marionette Hosni Mubarak to construct a wall against Gaza.’”
It is time for Swedes to wake up and see that anti-Semitism, which today in Sweden is largely coming from the “proletariat” Muslim immigrant community and its far left allies, is also expressed by that familiar beast marching down the street with the anti-Zionist label pasted on proudly.
By Chanah Shapira