Monday, August 2, 2010

Major Reepalu Silent as Malmö’s Jews are Attacked Once Again

Last week the only synagogue in Malmö was attacked with explosives which managed to blow out several windows in the 107-year-old Moorish-style synagogue. The Jews in Malmö were of the belief that things had settled after the storm in the beginning of the year when it came to light that the number of anti-Semtic attacks in the city had doubled compaired to previous year. Malmö’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, in response to the increasing number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city, said that it’s the Jews own fault if they get attacked-unless they distance themselves from Israel.   The mayor’s statement attracted international attention and unofficially declared Malmö Europe’s capital of anti-Semitism. 

After the recent attack, one would therefore expect that Mayor Ilmar Reepalu—who at the beginning of the year, was roundly criticized as he failed, time after time, to take a clear stance against anti-Semitism—now would have gotten his act together in order to condemn the recent attack on the Jewish community as well as help strengthen the security for the members. This is something he should do—if not for the right reason, then for the sake of Malmö’s image as a “tolerant and multicultural” town, or at least for the sake of his own image and political success.

Still, from a man who recently compared Zionism with anti-Semitism it does not come as a surprise to find that when reporters from the Forward tried to reach Reepalu for a comment on the attack the mayor answered: “I’m sorry, I’m sailing. I don’t know much of what is going on in Malmo,” before hanging up.

This came as no surprise to the spokesperson for the Jewish community, Fredrik Sieradzki, who concluded; “Reepalu has not said anything before about any attacks, and no one is expecting him to do it now. I would be surprised if he did.”

The attack did not harm anyone nor did it result in major damage on the building but it clearly showed that the Malmö’s Jewish community remains a target for violent anti-Semitic hate crimes. On this Sieradzki commented to the Forward: “[It] was a comparatively small explosive device, but it was enough to sow terror...We see this as an attack; someone purposefully put it there to prove a point. It’s an anti-Semitic point. ‘Beware,’ it says,”

Indeed the Jews in Malmö should be aware, especially when they have a mayor that clearly shows little interest in the security and well-being of the citizens for which he is responsible.

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