Sunday, August 1, 2010

Rabbi in Stockholm Subjected to Death Threat

Some days ago the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism (Svenska Kommittén mot Antisemitism) reported that the rabbi in Stockholm has been subjected to both anti-Semitic threats as well as anti-Jewish curse words this summer.

The first incident occurred on July 7th when Rabbi Isak Nachman arrived at Stockholm’s central train station.  He was wearing a kippa, and was easily identifiable as Jewish. When he started walking in the direction of his home, he suddenly met by four younger men in their twenties that started screaming “You will die, fucking Israeli, fucking killer, you shall be beaten”.

After that the young men started to scream in Arabic and continued to follow Nachman who was forced to flee the gang. He managed to escape by running and finally throwing himself into a cab. Only then the four men dispersed from the scene.

Rabbi Nachman also tells Christian daily Dagen that he has lived in Sweden since he was 11, but never before has he encountered a similar threatening situation.

The second incident occurred only a few weeks later when Rabbi Nachman and two foreign colleagues were strolling down the streets of Stockholm. A car drove by and the passengers rolled down the windows and screamed “Fucking Jews”.

To the Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism Nachman states:
-“It is unpleasant that something like this can happen just because I wear a kippa and consequently show that I am Jewish.”

He continues:
-“We have received a much harsher tone in the public sphere. We have, for example, local politicians who say that Jews should take a stance against what is going on in Israel; otherwise they will risk being subjected to attacks. I think that this type of statement results in lowered standards [of acceptable speech and behavior]. It becomes legitimate to attack, firstly Israel but also Jews in general. Many people do have a hard time separating Israel and Jews…”

It is now widely known that anti-Semitism is thriving in Sweden’s third largest city, Malmö. Also here Rabbi Shneur Kesselman has been subjected to a series of anti-Semitic hate crimes- the worst being when someone tried to run him over with a car. The synagogue in Malmö was subjected to an explosive attack last week and there is a constant threat against Jewish individuals in the town.

While Jews in Stockholm might have felt safer than the Jews in Malmö, we might now see a turning point. This is also confirmed by Rabbi Nachman who explains that the threat against Jews hasn’t been as bad in Stockholm as in Malmö. Now however, he has started to re-consider walking outside at night which clearly shows that the situation for Jews also in Stockholm has deteriorated. 

More and more it seems that the Swedish authorities prefer political correctness rather than dealing with a growingly problematic situation. As documented in this blog, the frequency of anti-Semitic incidents is increasing, and now it seems that attacks are further spreading. Once again we are asking whether the authorities will wake up---before events spiral out of control.

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