Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Andreas Lovén on the Current Situation for Malmö’s Jews

Andreas Lovén is the Swedish journalist from Skånska Dagladet, who started a heated national debate in January of this year by discussing the increased number of anti-Semitic attacks in Malmö in print. Skånska Dagbladet’s series attracted international attention and put Mayor Ilmar Reepalu in the hotseat for not one, but a series of inconvenient statements relating to the issue. It has now been almost a year since Lovén broke the story. Recently, Lovén elaborated on the current situation for Malmö’s Jews, which he claims hasn’t improved.
Andreas Lovén decided to run an op-ed in Dagens Nyheter following the recent episode in Höllviken, not far from Malmö, where Jewish children were attacked by youngsters who threw eggs and yelled anti-Semitic insults. In his article Lovén reflected on the situation for Malmö’s Jews, and wondered if after this year’s focus on the rising number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the city has made any difference for Jews in Malmö.  
Lovén notes his series on hate crimes against Jews led to increased national, as well as international attention to the problem. As a result, the attacks against Jews in Malmö finally were finally acknowledged in public discourse. He also mentions that, strikingly enough, attacks on Malmö’s rabbi as well as on Jewish football players in public, had never been something that the local newspaper would consider newsworthy.
But has a positive change taken place in Malmö? According to Lovén this is not the case.  Responses to the article series were, according to Lovén, mainly negative. Colleagues from both his own newspaper as well as others in the media constantly questioned the truth of the stories.  He also states that shortly after the first article was published he got an email from a prominent Social Democrat in Skåne that read:
“A part of the population in Malmö which is of Jewish descent lives like a king on a throne. They are Zionists with all what that includes (…) Let these people emigrate to Israel and settle down in a castle on occupied land.”
According to Lovén many reacted the same way and people with leftist sympathies completely turned their backs against him. The strong reaction from the Left was something he had not expected; he was disappointed that the Left, which is supposed to oppose discrimination and bigotry.
Showing again that this is not the case, Lovén recalls a recent conversation with two men from the Muslim majority neighborhood of Rosengård where the pair claimed that a locally known Social Democrat tried to gain votes “by calling the Liberal Party the ‘Jew party’ and promised economic support to Gaza in the event that the Social Democrats won the elections.”
In his op-ed Lovén also touches upon the fact that Ilmar Reepalu has managed to play a part in aggravating the situation by not managing to differentiate between the situation in Malmö and the conflict in the Middle East. He writes:
“What Ilmar Reeplau thinks about the Jew’s exposure in Malmö I can only guess. It is not realistic to think that he is anti-Semitic but the fact that he cannot separate Malmö from the Middle East is bad enough… In a recording Ilmar Reepalu called Israel’s politics an abscess; he also equated Zionism with anti-Semitism”.  
A dialogue forum was recently initiated to better the situation for the Jews and has been accredited to Mayor Reepalu. Nonetheless, Lovén notes that:
“The idea originally came from the Imam Saeed Azam, chairman of the newly founded Fatwa Council and member of the dialogue forum”.

Moreover, according to Lovén the forum was forced into creation by the Social Democrats’ former leader Mona Sahlin.

Lovén’s op-ed comes as a reminder that there is still much to be done about the Jews’ situation in Malmö. In the beginning of the year more attention was focused on the problem but it doesn’t appear that any real change has taken place. The continuing attacks are proof that the proposed “solution” has been ineffective.  
At the end of Lovén’s op-ed he notes that it doesn’t help that Malmö’s schools recently denied the introduction of a curriculum that was to educate Malmö’s students about the evils of anti-Semitism. According to Lovén, the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism (SKMA) recently renewed their offer but it was declined again as Malmö teachers “were busy with the upcoming curriculum”.  Lovén accepts this excuse without comment.
Obviously Lovén identified a problem which is difficult for Swedes to discuss. There is a blatant conflict between the idea of Swedes as liberal and tolerant, while anti-Semitism on the other hand even erupts from the Left.  
There is also the fact that having largely adopted the Islamic and Palestinian victim narratives to define what happens in the Middle East, the Left cannot or will not see that Muslims can be oppressors.  But when we look at massacres of Christians in Iraq, the persecution of Copts in Egypt, or Muslims in Malmö—pelting Jews at a peaceful demonstration with bottles, stones, and firecrackers; trying to run the rabbi over on the street; or harassing those who identify openly as Jews, we see that there are Muslims who can be hate mongers. Yet very few in Swedish society dare to say this.
Between the fear and the hypocrisy, it seems that Malmö still has a long way to go when it comes to halting anti-Semitic attacks. It’s a constant uphill battle when Mayor Reepalu is leading the fight—because he’s neither willing nor brave enough.

1 comment:

  1. This is only the fisrt tentative little steps for a process that is million-miles long. His op-ed barely dares to grab the problem. It only increases the obfuscation in a way. Reepalu is a depraved vicious, but shrew and calculative base antisemite, as is his party GENERALLY and its allies (far-leftist Stalinists and the pseudo-green antisemites) and nothing can cover it up. More courage and outspokenness is needed! Badly.

    Gábor Fränkl