Monday, August 16, 2010

Anti-Semitic Trends in Norway Spotlighted in the U.S.—Is Swedish Anti-Semitism Next?

The blog “Norway Israel and the Jews” is reporting that US senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) recently sent a letter to the Norwegian ambassador in Washington DC expressing his concerns over how “hatred of Israel and outright anti-Semitism is being allowed to fester unchallenged in Norway.” The letter, which was sent out on Aug 3rd, was based on a 10-point list created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center. What is striking is that the points on the list are much similar to what is taking place in Sweden today.  Two examples are:

Point number  1:

The minister of finance (Now Minister of Education) Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the Socialist Left Party, participated in an anti-Israeli demonstration in Oslo in January 2009. She was the only European minister to do so. She was photographed standing close to a sign which says “United States and Israel- the greatest axis of evil”…..

Not surprisingly, the same thing was seen in Sweden when leader of the Left party, Lars Ohly, participated in an anti-Israeli demonstration. He was photographed wearing a scarf which is popular amongst Palestinians, displaying a text in Arabic and a map on which Israel does not exist. To many observers Ohly seemed to be making a  statement—arguing  that Israel lacks the right to exist as a Jewish state, as well as asserting the irrelevance of the two state solution.

Point number  7:

 In January 2009 during a pro-Israeli demonstration in Oslo in which a senior opposition leader Siv Jensen participated, there was an anti-Jewish pogrom of a size never before encountered in Norway’s history…Author Erik Eiglad wrote [it was],” wanton anti-Jewish mass violence.”

In Sweden during January 2009, an authorized pro-Israeli demonstration in Malmö was attacked by anti-Israeli protesters who had no permit to hold a demonstration. Rather than protecting those who were exercising their right, the police dispersed both groups. Aging holocaust survivors were forced to flee the scene recalling trumatizing memories from the 1940s.The second pro-Israeli demonstration held in Malmö was attacked by a group who hurled pipe bombs and projectiles at the demonstrators.

There is no doubt that the items on the Wiesenthal Center list pinpointing anti-Semitic and Israel-hatred issues in Norway and all bear a striking resemblance to events in Sweden. If we were to create a similar list for Sweden, one could arguably put in not only the two above-mentioned examples, but also these items:

1. The Mayor of the city of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, has continuously made statements which can be construed as anti-Semitic. He has been unable to take a stance on the fact that many Jews in Malmö today feel forced to leave the city due to growing anti-Semitic sentiments.  In fact, European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor singled out Malmö as the European city where Jews are most pressured to leave due to hate crime.

2. The leader of Reepalu’s Social Democratic party, Mona Sahlin, has still not condemned the many arguably anti-Semitic statements made by the Mayor.

3.  In 2009, one of the largest newspapers in Sweden, Aftonbladet, published a libelous article against Israel which claimed that Israel stole human organs in the Palestinian Territories in a modern twist on the age-old anti-Semitic blood libel. The political editor of Aftonbladet, Helle Klein, continuously spreads Israel-hatred in her Aftonbladet blog. It is important to note that the media is subsidized by the Swedish government, which declines to condemn these abuses of press freedom.

4. Social Democrat and Vice President for the organization Social Democratic Women (S-kvinnor) in Skåne county, Ingalill Bjartén, decided to join a demonstration outside a tennis arena and publicly compare Israelis with the Nazis when  Israel was to meet Sweden in a tennis game in Malmö.

The list can be made longer, these are just a few points to show that the exact same things which Senator Brownback has called for Norway to address, in fact, also taking place in Sweden. We can only hope that a similar formal acknowledgement soon will be made.

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