Friday, August 27, 2010

New Fund Proposed for Groups at Risk—Including Malmö’s Jews

During this past week public health minister Maria Larsson (KD) visited the Jewish Community in Malmö. She came in order to talk about the Chrisitian Democrats’ proposal for a new fund which will help provide security arrangements for exposed groups such as the Jews in Malmö.

The Christian Democrats in Malmö have introduced the new initiative for a fund to which exposed minorities can apply for aid. The fund will ease the pressure on small communities—such as the Jewish community in Malmö—which yearly have to pay large security expenses (a third of the budget) in order to keep the members of the community safe.

The leader of the Christian Democrats in Malmö has stated that his party, together with the other allied parties, wants to put forward the motion in the city council after the election. He also stated “that a fund to strengthen the security measures would show that the city is taking responsibility in order to create safety in Malmö.”

If the new fund would become a reality this would greatly ease the high costs that the Malmö Jewish community is dealing with today. A third of the Malmö Jewish community’s expenses are today channeled towards security arrangements, an unsustainable formula for a continuously shrinking community.
Public health minister Maria Larsson of the Christian Democrats is one out of many ministers who have paid visits lately to the targeted Jewish community in Malmö. Larsson herself commented, “I am here to follow up on what has happened. Malmö has a big responsibility to make sure that legal rights are upheld and that everyone can live in a safe and democratic society.”

During 2010 the Malmö Jewish community and its members have been exposed to several attacks. The latest one was when explosive material was set off  outside the community synagogue and shattered several windows in the building. The Jewish community certainly would appreciate this initiative, which, if put into effect, would mean that the government is finally shouldering its responsibility to protect all of its citizens. It is high time for the small and beleaguered Malmö Jewish community to get real government assistance in paying for its heavy security expenses.

But more importantly, the government must develop a clear policy to deal with anti-Semitic hate crime—the root of the whole issue. Unless the authorities resolve to have a “no tolerance” policy on hate crime, the situation will only escalate. The current situation is bad enough to drive Jews out of Malmö now; without serious efforts to change the situation the authorities in Malmö will find that they have been treating the symptoms without recognizing or curing the actual disease—hate crime in Sweden.

Monday, August 23, 2010

In Upside-down Malmö, It’s Now Easier than Ever to Be an Illegal Immigrant!

The Local reported last week on a recent decision in Mayor Ilmar Reepalu’s Social Democrat fiefdom. Malmö has just eased the way for even more non-integrating immigrants. How has Malmö managed to increase its social problems and unrest in one simple policy change? The Local notes that:

-“The municipality of Malmö will no longer print the personal identification numbers of marrying couples on the lists of upcoming civil weddings in a move which will make it harder for border police to hunt for illegal immigrants at weddings. “

In short, one of the key tools for weeding out illegal immigrants is to check their personal identification number and details. This was done by transferring a list of impending nuptials including i.d. numbers, essential to the police for verification of legal immigration status.

Now the police will no longer receive these lists with the personal i.d. numbers, although they can request the numbers by submitting a “proof of impediment”, presumably on a case-by-case basis.

City Hall has its rationale, as expressed by Tomas Bärring, the secretariat director:

-"We have had a discussion and came to the conclusion that we want to protect the personal sphere."

The result of this intimate little chat is that it is now infinitely easier for immigrants to marry illegals (or as illegals)—and then disappear back into the lawless immigrant neighborhoods where the situation is already strained. These neighborhoods are the source of a high percentage of crimes in Sweden, including arson, rape, theft, hate crime and gang wars. They are the result of a failing immigration policy in Sweden generally; in Malmö the problem of lawlessness is particularly bad.

Reepalu’s strategy is to throw bones like this lax policy change (and anti-Israel sentiments) around in the hopes that this will create “understanding”—or at least buy votes in the Muslim immigrant sector for himself and fellow Social Democrats in the upcoming elections. But no matter who wins, once the elections are over the same reality will be staring Malmö in the face—how to cope with a non-integrated and growing population which is largely unemployed, uneducated, and which neither shares Sweden’s purported democratic values, nor respects them.

Avoiding the arrest of illegal immigrants solves no problems for Malmö—it only increases them. According to scholar Daniel Pipes, Malmö is speeding its way toward becoming possibly the first Western European city with a Muslim majority. The question is whether it will be a city where all residents are respected, or whether today’s hate crimes and subsequent departure of a number of Jews from Malmö are just the beginning of the departure of the West and Western values from Malmö.

By : Chanah Shapira

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Israel’s IBA News Reports on Situation of Jews in Sweden

Leah Zinder, a reporter from the English IBA news in Israel, recently travelled to Sweden’s capital Stockholm in order to get a first-hand glance at the growing anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli atmosphere in the country. 
The movie clip below gives a lengthy description of the general situation which the Jews in Sweden are dealing with today. The movie also gives a great opportunity to see interviews with individuals who previously have been mentioned and discussed in the Sweden, Israel and the Jews blog. 

In order to view the news edition movie- click on the link below:

 When the new window opens- click on the “IBA close up Weekly News Edition picture” and the movie will start. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

“Grave” Errors II: Aftonbladet and Colleagues Write “Pravda” Journalism

As those who recall the Soviet Socialist Empire recall, the totalitarian leftist regime there completely controlled all media.  There was one party line which dictated the tone and content of all reporting. The “official truth” was what was printed in Pravda, which, ironically, means “truth” in Russian

No one is claiming here that the Swedish government is controlling all media outlets. Yet left-wing bias in the mainstream media—which also cooperatively own the main news agency—results in an eerily similar situation.  We reported recently on the Mamilla graves issues, where a site which Muslim extremists are claiming now as “holy ground” was slated for development and used for pumping sewage by Muslims more than 60 years ago. Evidence clearly documenting these facts was overlooked by the mainstream Swedish media.

In effect, it would be more accurate to talk about a Swedish medium, singular.  Basically, the Swedish mainstream papers, TV, and radio, as well as their internet avatars rely on the Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (TT) news agency. TT claims to be the “only nationwide Swedish agency with a complete news service.”  What this seems to mean is that it is practically the sole provider of foreign news in Swedish.  As a result, the media, which receives government subsidies to guarantee multiple viewpoints, delivers one story from one angle to all the mainstream papers.

Now, it is understandable that in a country like Sweden, it would be unrealistic for each newspaper to maintain a foreign staff. However, it would not be unreasonable that their local staff cross-checks foreign material either through English-language sources or simply through online translation. (If anyone at TT doesn’t know how to do this, just email us and we’ll explain how.)

As an example, I checked to see how the Swedish papers reported on the fake graves issue, which is the latest permutation of the Mamilla development squabble.  It is unclear who financed the installation of “grave markers”, which can be seen in a video along with buckets, cement, gravel and building debris here.
What is interesting is that the source for the TT story was AFP (Agence France-Presse) which operates internationally in several languages. AFP‘s original report included these statements from the Jerusalem city council:

-"The municipality and the (Israel Lands) Authority destroyed around 300 dummy gravestones which were set up illegally in Independence Park on public land.”

-"The court approved the removal of all the dummy gravestones which were laid in the last seven months," the municipality said in a written statement sent to AFP.
-“Underneath the tombstones excavators found only ‘plastic bottles, cigarette packets and parts of a sprinkler system,’ the statement said. It accused "Islamic elements" of trying to pull off a huge scam.”
Notice that the report, credited as TT or TT-AFP—which was printed almost identically in Aftonbladet, Svenska Dagbladet, and Dagens Nyheter , and also the Christian daily Dagen—changes the wording of the AFP report:

-“Municipal leaders in Jerusalem on Thursday denied Palestinian information earlier this week that an Arab cemetery had been destroyed.

-“In its first comment on the information, local government leaders confirmed that about 300 gravestones had been removed; they claimed that they were false and that there were no human remains in them.
-“On Tuesday, A spokesman for the Islamic al-Aqsa Foundation said that Israeli bulldozers had torn up a couple of hundred graves in the centuries-old Muslim cemetery… in the Jewish-dominated western part of Jerusalem.

Notice that the city council is no longer quoted directly, but comes in the form of a denial of prior “information”.  In the second excerpt, the city council “claims” the graves are false, and in the third bit, the al-Aqsa foundation spokesman is quoted directly, but his statement is not described as a “claim”.  Also, the phrase “mostly Jewish” in the original report has morphed into the more loaded “Jewish-dominated” in the TT text. Of course, city council is not quoted as saying that it found trash under the alleged tomb markers.
Interestingly, the editor of Dagen, which has a more center-right orientation, was forced to write an editorial defending his use of the TT item. In his defense, he complains that because the primary source for this information was Arutz Sheva—a “settler mouthpiece” he was reluctant to publish this information—on the Swedish right, it’s still handy to bash the Israeli right. Later, Arutz Sheva’s documentation was picked up by other media, including the Jerusalem Post in which the city council statement explains how Islamic officials:

- “exploited permits they had received from the city’s sanitation department for the cleaning and renovation of existing graves, and instead [used the permits to] fraudulently erect fictitious tombstones …about 300 fictitious tombstones have been removed, with each new location being identified and cleared only after review and approval from an IAA [Israel Antiquities Authority] expert.”

The bottom line is that as Pravda did for the Soviets in the good old days, TT today often stands as the sole window on the world for Swedes. Shouldn’t the Swedish media work along the lines of the stated mission for those who receive governmental press subsidies? Doesn’t accepting the people’s tax money obligate the Swedish media to strive for objective reporting and multiple voices? It is obvious that a “reporter” at TT took what was a reasonable and factual piece and twisted it to make it seem as if Israelis were countering Muslim "information".

Instead of working as a news agency, they are operating as a leftist cabal with a central agency for doctoring the international wire service reports to conform to their world view. Clearly, when the monolithic left-wing Swedish media promotes the cause of Muslim extremists while bashing Israel for building a Museum of Tolerance, it is business as usual. For the Swedish media, it’s ideology first—facts are optional.

This post was written by Chanah Shapira.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Not Playing Fair: Social Democrats Oppose Swedish-Israeli Handball Match

An international handball match between Sweden and Israel is being scheduled for next summer by the Swedish Handball Association (Handbollsförbundet). The association wants the game to be held in Karlskrona (in Southern Sweden) yet officials of the sports association (idrottsförbundet) in the community are already opposing the game.

 The game is to be held on July 12, 2011 if the community in Karlskrona will allow it. The chairman of the sports and leisure board (idrotts-och fritidsnämnden) in the community, Camilla Brunsberg (Moderate) is positively inclined towards the match.  According to Brunsberg the critique has been raised by officials in the city due to security concerns. But she asserts that “police, the foreign ministry and the handball association have been contacted in order to gather opinions”, all in order to make sure that the game will be able to be played. When asked about her thoughts on boycotts of the game Brunsberg answered:
 “I don’t believe in boycotts, what is important is to strengthen relations between countries”.

Vice chairman for the same sports and leisure board (idrotts- och fritidsnämnden), Jan Elmqvist (Social Democrat), is not so positive and does not want Karlskrona to host the game.  In an interview Elmqvist states: “Spontaneously, I don’t think that the game should be hosted here”. When asked if it is okay to mix politics with sports he further answers: “This has always been done.”

The chairman of the Karlskrona community board, Karl-Gösta Svensson (Moderate) also states that he wishes that Karlskrona hosts the game as: “sports and politics should not be mixed”.

According to the local newspaper Sydöstran the main concerns strive from uncertainties on whether or not Karlskrona will be able to manage the security measures necessary in order to host a game for an Israeli team. Opponents to the match have argued that the community will not be able to counter the type of security threats which arose when Israel played Sweden in a Davis Cup game in Malmö last year.
Still, with the clear division of thoughts between representatives from the Social Democrats and the Moderates in the community it seems pretty clear that also politics at this point clearly are influencing the decision to host the game.

Nervous authorities in Malmö declared that last year’s Davis Cup match between Israel and Sweden had to be played without crowds. But, unlike the capitulating Malmö Social Democrat city authorities, the team manager for the Handball association confirms that they want to play the game—they hope that the community will play fair and say yes.

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.

Friday, August 13, 2010

“Grave” Errors and Serious Omissions as Swedish Media Group Pursues Anti-Israel Bias

TT (Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå), is Sweden’s wire service  for Swedish news and foreign reports as well as providing internet and radio news, and serving as a source for Swedish television. Owned by the major Swedish newspapers, it is practically monolithic as a mainstream new source. As we have reported this week, there is an Israel-bashing story almost every day in the mainstream press.

One of the anti-Israel stories TT sent around lately was about Israel allegedly desecrating Muslim graves to put up a Museum of Tolerance. The misinformation about this project is outlined in the blog Peace in the Middle East (Fred i Mellanöstern), which describes the total misrepresentation of the facts in this case which were originally “dug up” by blogger Elder of Zion. The Jerusalem Post confirms the blogger’s information, a key element of which is that:

- “the Supreme Muslim Council of British Mandate Palestine had planned to build a large commercial center directly on top of the cemetery in 1945.”

Incidentally, the English source for this information was none other than a 1945 edition of the Palestine Post, the precursor of the Jerusalem Post.  Basically, today’s complaints are completely false regarding Israeli intent to desecrate Muslim “holy ground”. In fact, that was already done by none other than the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini (a Nazi ally), who had built the Palace Hotel adjacent to the cemetery; due to arguments with the then-Muslim municipality, “Husseini agreed [with the contractors] to lay pipes to send the hotel's (partially treated) sewage - to the cemetery itself”. 

In effect TT, while claiming to be a professional and dedicated media organization, has managed to complain about Israeli development of a tract of land which Muslims themselves had planned to develop, and which the Mufti had already desecrated himself by pumping sewage into it.  All this information is readily available in English, including scans of original documents. Since running a story like this amounts to sheer propaganda and contributes to the anti-Israeli hatred already rampant in Sweden among Muslim immigrants and the leftists, the TT staff seems to be better described as professional liars and agitators. 

Having dismissed this non-news, fictional item, let’s have a look at just one story which was covered in the Israeli media in the last week. This story concerns an explosion in Gaza which leveled 8 homes, and damaged 30 more and left 50 injured. Yes, Palestinian homes were destroyed and civilians were hurt but there was no outcry by Hamas supporters among Sweden's loyal left.


Well, it seems that Hamas was using the house as an explosives depot, right in the middle of a residential area. Hot weather and poor storage conditions led to the spontaneous blast. Of course, for those familiar with Islamic terror organizations, this is more or less standard procedure.  The Israeli papers often report these “work accident” explosions which occur in inhabited areas.  Many villages in southern Lebanon are exploited in the same way, and these accidents happen there, too.

Use of human shields as cover for combatants and weapons directly contravenes the Geneva convention. The residents complained that they had repeatedly asked Hamas officials to relocate the explosives cache, but were silenced by Hamas authorities. This was corroborated by a local Palestinian human rights group notes the JPost:
“’Usually when such explosions occur the armed groups in Gaza announce it’s Israel’s fault,’” Hamdi Shaqqura, deputy director for program affairs at the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights, told The Media Line.

‘But our investigations often find that this is not the case.’

Shaqqura said armed groups try to hide the existence of bombs in residential areas, because local residents ‘would not agree to live on a barrel of explosives.’”

So, for TT and its media pals, it’s okay to report fake stories about Israelis, but you will never see the Gaza population depicted as victims of Hamas war crimes. This is yet another example of real humanitarian racism—most of the suffering of Gaza population is brought upon them by their corrupt, inhumane, and repressive regime. No one, especially in the Swedish mainstream media is calling for Hamas to stop putting its citizens at risk; in fact this kind of bias gives legitimacy to terrorists and their allies, such as the Ship to Gaza participants.  But as long as Hamas has Israel in its gun sights, it seems propaganda is fair play for TT.
What a shame that Sweden’s “free”, “democratic” and “transparent” of “promoting diversity and making sure that people get more than one side of a story”.

As the Swedish authorities also warn:
“…the right to express an opinion calls for responsibility. Freedom of speech can be offensive, incite discrimination or violence, or have negative consequences for an individual or society.”

It’s time for the press and the government to take their own words to heart.  They must stop supporting war criminals by bashing Israel in the government-supported media while ignoring the clear human rights violations on the part of Hamas. It’s time to stop making media darlings out of protest tourists who joined “Ship to Hamas”, and it’s inexcusable that the Foreign Minister,Social Democrat Carl Bildt, greeted them as V.I.P.s on their return to Sweden.  When the government bankrolls and encourages one-sided propagandists for terror, it is complicit in supporting terrorism. That is certainly a negative consequence for Swedish society.

By: Chanah Shapira

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kvinna till Kvinna Feminists Support Repressive Chauvinistic Hamas Regime

Of all the nations of the world, few have come as far as Sweden when it comes to gender equality. The amount of Swedish women in top positions, within both the private and the public sector, is steadily increasing, and almost half of all Swedish MPs are women. With that in mind, a Swedish organization working to promote gender equality worldwide seems like the logical next step. This organization is called “Kvinna till Kvinna” (lit. “Woman to Woman”).

Formed as a response to the tragedies of the Balkan conflict, this organization collaborates with various women's rights organizations around the world in order to, among other things, “empower and further educate women activists and politicians“, “counteract violence against women and human trafficking“ and “educate authorities and influence decision-making processes and legislation“. A noble cause, to be sure, and one which deserves support in every way. However, as is so often the case with Sweden, this does not tell the full story. Like so many other organizations in this Israel-obsessed nation of ours, Kvinna till Kvinna also dabbles in anti-Israeli propaganda.

On their website, Kvinna till Kvinna has written extensively about women's situation in Israel, in Gaza and in the West Bank. It is far from pleasant to read about how Arab women in particular are being mistreated and discriminated against. However, it is somewhat infuriating that Kvinna till Kvinna apparently thinks it is entirely in order to use propaganda, entirely unrelated to the cause they claim to be fighting for. For one thing, they never use the word “Arab”, which would simply make an ethnic distinction. Rather, they say “Palestinians”, politicizing the identity of those Israeli citizens who are of Arab descent. To quote an example from their English-language website: “A fifth of the Israeli population is made up of Palestinians and 70 per cent live in rural areas. Palestinian women in Israel suffer double discrimination: as Palestinians in Israel and as women in the patriarchal Palestinian community.”

It would be more accurate to identify the patriarchal Islamic society as the key issue holding women back. Calling the Israeli Arabs “Palestinians” sounds like political rhetoric. Usually, when one refers to Israeli Arabs as Palestinians, one is attempting to make out Israel as a colonial state, where the “European” Jews have come to what was once the Nation of Palestine and replaced it with the State of Israel. And what is this constant talk of discriminating against the Palestinians, and women in particular?

First off, how exactly are they being discriminated against? Israeli Arabs enjoy the same rights as any other citizen of Israel; they vote and are members of both the parliament and the judiciary, although they lack one of the duties of Israeli Jews, and one generally adopted by male Bedouin and Druze—as Israeli Arabs are exempt from compulsory military service. They do, however, retain the right to serve voluntarily—a   right that is being used by a small but growing number of Israeli Arabs every year.

Secondly, they disregard initiatives on the part of Jewish and Israeli institutions to better the lives of Arab Israelis. Note that Arab women in Israel benefit from Israel’s Western, democratic political system :

-“Israel has extensive anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, since the founding of the State, the status of Arab Israeli women has been significantly improved by legislation stipulating equal rights for women and prohibition of polygamy and child marriage. Israel remains one of the few countries in the Middle East where women enjoy equality in rights and personal freedoms, including the right to vote and be elected to local and national office.”
In fact, although Kvinna till Kvinna makes a big fuss over the poor conditions Arab women in Israel are forced to live under, Haredi (or Ultra-Orthodox) women have lower health standards than their Israeli Arab sisters.

And, as if misrepresentation were not enough, Kvinna till Kvinna has also committed the signature sin of Sweden; hypocrisy. But more importantly, Kvinna till Kvinna, through one of their sister organizations, supported the Ship to Gaza-flotilla – often called, with more than a hint of bitterness and accuracy, Ship to Hamas.
In doing so, whether intentionally or not, they support the Hamas—one of the worst oppressors of women in the region (if not the worst)—who have recently embarked on a campaign to limit women's rights in Gaza. Examples include banning women from riding scooters behind men and preventing women from dancing in public as well as banning women from smoking water pipes. Is this really the kind of regime an organization working to promote women's rights should support?

In short, then, Kvinna till Kvinna is distorting the truth, omitting facts and lying outright, seemingly to further some unofficial political agenda. They are also hypocrites who have shown themselves to be quite willing to throw aside the ideals they claim to stand for, apparently not realizing that in so doing they are also throwing away all of their credibility. What the members of the organization do on their spare time, as private citizens, is their own business, even if that includes going against the stated goals of the organization. However, when the organization itself goes against those goals, when it lies and engages in political propaganda, it just goes to show that Kvinna till Kvinna is not to be taken seriously.

Women all across the world would be better off if Kvinna till Kvinna began to focus on improving women's situations worldwide. The struggle for women's rights is too important for its champions to squander their credibility in order to engage in political propaganda.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sweden’s Obsession with Israel

Yesterday veteran blogger Ilya Meyer wrote an excellent piece about Sweden’s disproportionately excessive reporting on Israel. According to Meyer, Sweden currently has something of an obsession for bashing Israel in the Swedish public media.
Meyer draws attention to the fact that in no other country is there such frequent and negative reporting on Israel as there is in Sweden. He writes:

In an average month of 30 days, there are never more than 3 days without some negative reporting on Israel in the publicly-funded state TV (SVT). Check out the news function on teletext and on a minimum of 27 days out of 30, there will be a story about Israel. Not about Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, Bangladesh. The standing joke in Sweden is that one can always tell when there is a new employee at the taxpayer-funded SVT, because that is the day there is no anti-Israel item on teletext. New recruits never make the same mistake twice, if they wish to keep their jobs.

One example of the irrational Israel-bashing in the Swedish media has already been cited in this blog. Helle Klein, the political author of the left-leaning Social Democrat daily Aftonbladet—which is notorious for Israel-hating screeds—spends the vast majority of her time publishing anti-Israel stories in her Aftonbladet blog. During the month of June this year, 28 out of 44 posts concerned Israel and most of them were encouraging Sweden and Aftonbladet’s readers to boycott Israel.

As mentioned last week the same thing can of course be said for Swedish state-funded radio SR which can’t seem to refrain from continuing and contributing to the anti-Israeli trend in Sweden.

Sweden’s negative obsessive reporting on Israel has justified the persecution of Jews in the larger cities in the country. Jews have been asked to take a stance against Israel in order to “ensure” their own security. This is a sad development for a country which claims to be a “multi-cultural society”. In reality, the state has an Orwellian version of multi-culturalism—Sweden’s obsessive and biased media reporting reveals that some cultures are more equal than others.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Swedish Photojournalist Slams Israel for Targeting Jacuzzis in “Impoverished” Gaza

Helsingborgs Dagblad decided yesterday to run a review by Sören Sommelius on photographer Kent Klich’s book Gaza Photo Album. The book displays pictures of Gaza homes after “Operation Cast Lead” at the beginning of last year. The book aims to highlight the destruction of the Palestinian homes but it also manages  to give a key insight into the wealth that in fact exists in Gaza today; wealth which all Swedish media outlets refrain from reporting on in their reporting of the situation in Gaza.

Sommelius starts off telling the Swedish readers that Operation Cast Lead was conducted during December 2008 and January 2009 when “The Israeli army, IDF, managed to prevent foreign journalists from entering into the Gaza Strip”. Due to Israel’s restriction on media presence in the Strip—which was imposed due to security risks for foreign journalists—this review’s author consequently claims that in “Sweden nobody was informed”.

With the publication of Kent Klich’s book, Sommelius seems to think that Swedish people now will be able to understand the suffering that the Palestinians are going through due to the operation in Gaza which the author states clearly was aimed at the civilian population. Sommelius clearly seems to be oblivious to the nature of the operation in the strip. The facts are that Hamas soldiers, in contradiction to international law, purposely did not wear uniforms to identify themselves as combatants. This was in order to blend in amongst civilians. Any attack on a Hamas militant could therefore be claimed as the wounding or killing of a civilian.  This was a war crime committed by Hamas, not Israel.

It is clear that Sommelius has no understanding of the complex nature of the operation in Gaza. He states that Israel waged war on civilians, completely disregarding Israel’s very specific mission: preventing the militant terror group Hamas from launching rockets at Israeli civilians. These rocket attacks, which have been renewed this past week with a larger range and lethal force, also constitute war crimes, as their sole purpose is to kill, maim, and terrorize the civilian population.

Initial reaction to the pictures, such as the one below, is surprising as the living conditions in Gaza, before the war, were much higher than, for example, the standards of the mostly Muslim immigrants living in the neighborhood of Rosengård in Malmö. 

Sommelius continues to bash Israel by arguing that Israel, since the end of the operation in Gaza has defied international conventions, hindered the reconstruction of buildings by classifying building material such as concrete as forbidden goods for import. He of course doesn’t mention that much of the blockade is force in order to prevent attacks from the Gaza Strip on civilians in Israel and the use of concrete for bunkers. Sommelius also fails to mention that despite the “lack” of concrete, the Hamas-led government in fact, recently managed to put up a shopping mall—this seems to be in place reconstructing homes for citizens. Neither does he mention that Hamas not long ago violently evicted Palestinian families from their homes as the government decided that a prison was going to be built on that very same spot.

It is more convenient for Sommelius to leave out this kind of information because Sommelius refuses to acknowledge that Hamas does not want to rebuild Gaza, nor homes for its citizens. This creates a propaganda exhibit for biased media outlets, who can continue to photograph homeless Gazans. In turn, maintaining some Gazans as homeless “exhibits” means that foreign NGOs will continue to pour in aid unconditionally to the Hamas government. These funds guarantee that high-positioned corrupt Hamas leaders or sympathizers can continue to build luxury homes and leisure malls while the many of the Gaza population are forced to live in poverty. Last year Sweden itself in fact contributed around 800 million Swedish kronor ($111.5 million USD) to the Strip.

Sommelius ends his article by writing:
-“ Klich’s photographs are registered, they are documentation of the Israeli army’s war crimes. In a just world the IDF’s commanders and government officials would have been put to question in trials for what took place. The pictures are proof of what happened and are therefore also accusations, pictures which accuse [Israel] of ‘crimes against humanity’”.

I beg to differ. The pictures taken by Kent Klich portray the true reality in Gaza; due to the corrupt Hamas led government some people in Gaza, as can be seen in the pictures, can and are living in luxury. Their living standards before the war were far better than that of the Swedish immigrants living in the neighborhoods of Rosengård in Malmö. (It is also a fairly safe bet that just as Hamas managed to find a way to put up a mall it will rebuild homes for those of its top echelon who may have lost their homes—if it hasn’t done so already.)

Klich’s photographic works can actually also be argued as documenting the fact  that foreign donors’ money  isn’t used for the benefit of the general welfare. This model might work in a socialistic and democratic country like Sweden, but not in a terrorist dictatorship like the Gaza Strip. Klich’s book fails in its objectives; it rather emphasizes the problems which will continue to exist as loads of money enable more radicalization and corruption on a small piece of land known as the Gaza Strip.

Friday, August 6, 2010

New (and Mostly Useless) Ship to Gaza Flotilla Planned

Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet reported  this week, that Swedish Ship to Gaza activists formally announced that another flotilla will sail before the end of the year. Spokesman Dror Feiler stated in a press conference in Stockholm:

"We will go [again] before the end of this year and we are quite sure that this flotilla will have more boats, bigger boats, there will be several passenger boats."

These efforts certainly do not come up to the level anticipated by celebrity Swedish mystery author and flotilla sailor Henning Mankell who manically boasted of larger exploits and “glowing” results:

“What will happen next year when we come back with hundreds of boats? Will they drop an atomic bomb?”

Sure, Henning, Israel is just itching to drop a nuclear bomb right near its own beaches. Actually the flotilla has barely delivered results—as far as Gaza residents are concerned. The facts are that

-“Of the seven flotilla ships, only four were freight ships. The Challenger 1 (small yacht), the Sfendonh (small passenger boat) and the Mavi Marmara (passenger ship) did not carry any humanitarian aid.”

So, firstly, in plain language, when Feiler speaks of more passenger ships, he means more ships with no aid cargo for Gazans. At best he is talking about increasing protest tourism for drama-seekers like Mankell, and at worst, he is talking about bringing more armed jihadist would-be martyrs.

As the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported in June, the European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza and the Freedom Flotilla Coalition would also bring more IHH members—again, would-be Islamic martyrs with clubs, night scopes, knives, etc.—from the jihadist group linked with Hamas.

Secondly, like other “aid shipments” the four freight ships brought cargo which was largely useless for humanitarian purposes:

-“The equipment does not constitute humanitarian aid in the accepted sense (basic foodstuffs, new and functional equipment, fresh medicines).

-“Because of the improper packing, some of the equipment was crushed by the weight in transit.

-“ Some of the medicines have already expired, and some will expire soon. The operating theater equipment, which should be kept sterile, was carelessly wrapped.”

And the bulk of the “aid” was

- “some 2000 tons of construction equipment - building materials and tools, and construction waste (rubble, toilets, sinks and cement) for re-use.”

No surprises here. A large amount of the “aid” sent to the Palestinians by donors consists of used goods and product dumping. Expired medicines which are either useless or harmful are “generously” given by donors who claim to have donated thousands or even millions of dollars in aid—it’s just that they are referring to the cost of medicines and equipment when they were originally purchased, not their current value. Al Jazeera produced this clip which diplomatically demurs from naming donors, and points out the environmental damage caused by indiscriminate dumping of pharmaceutical waste:

In point of fact, Israel has expanded the types of goods allowed in and is shipping more goods than ever into Gaza. Every week thousands of tons of fresh food and medicines as well as consumer goods are trucked in for Gaza’s citizens.

It is now clearer than ever that the Ship to Gaza movement is not more than a political scam. Many boats did not bring any humanitarian aid and the ones that did brought mostly expired and nearly-expired medicines and used or damaged equipment. So far Israel has been demonized when trying to protect it citizens. One can only hope that many more people now think twice about the true agenda of Mankell and his martyr friends.

By Chanah Shapira

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Peres: Sweden Doesn’t Understand Us

In a recent interview with the online Jewish cultural magazine Tablet Benny Morris interviews Israel’s president Shimon Peres on his reflections  on his mentor, the late Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion , Israel’s peace partner, and whether the State of Israel will survive.

One of the questions asked early in the interview is: what are Peres’ thoughts on the recent rise of delegitimization of Israel in the world? And does President Peres agree that such a rise in fact is taking place?  To these questions Peres answers:

"For 2,000 years there was friction between the Vatican and the Jews. There are, what is it, 1.3 billion Christians? Now we have excellent relations with the Vatican. This is no small thing. And we have good relations with India, also hit by Muslim terrorists. And that’s together 3 billion. And [we now have] excellent relations with China."

When asked about his thoughts on the particular rise on delegitimization in the West Peres comments:

"Firstly, there is a problem in the Scandinavian countries. They always want to appear like yefei nefesh [the Hebraism roughly translates as “bleeding hearts,” with an undertone of hypocrisy]. And I don’t expect them to understand us. Sweden doesn’t understand why we are at war. For 150 years they have not had a war. There were even Hitler and Stalin, but they kept out of the picture. As did Switzerland. So, they don’t understand why we are “for war,” as if we really like wars. It’s like Marie Antoinette didn’t understand why the people didn’t bake cakes. The same logic."

It is interesting to see that Peres, when commenting on rising delegitimization of Israel in the west chooses to mention Scandinavia as a whole as a problem. Making such a broad and incorrect statement does not help emphasize the problem that does in fact exist currently in the region—not in Scandinavia as a whole, but in Sweden and Norway. It neither helps deal with the problem nor reduces the delegitimization.
Arguably, in order to deal with the growing problem the President should know where to put his emphasis. Instead he makes the mistake of rambling on about Sweden’s supposed neutrality in the Second World War when he could have mentioned that Sweden (as well as Norway) constantly delegitimizes Israel.

Peres could also have mentioned that this rising Swedish trend of delegitimizing Israel is a significant factor in the need for high-cost security for Jewish communities and institutions. Jewish families are currently leaving Sweden’s third-largest city of Malmö as a result of exponentially rising anti-Semitism. As shown in this blog, even the official numbers are dramatic, while attacks are known to be underreported or dismissed by the authorities, making the real picture much grimmer. Malmo’s Social Democrat mayor, Ilmar Reepalu  responded to a jump in attacks by stating that Jews need to distance themselves from Israel in order to avoid these attacks. Furthermore, the Swedish mainstream media sweeps these issues under the rug and publishes “editorials” which are propaganda exercises in delegitimization of Israel. However, Peres forgot to mention important facts like these.

Repercussions from the article have been heard in England—which Peres also mentioned in the interview, referring to it as a highly pro-Arab as well as anti-Israeli country. So far no reactions have been heard from any Scandinavian country, not even from Sweden, Peres’ most direct target. This further emphasize that Peres clearly didn’t get his point across to the relevant parties. As a result, Peres missed an opportunity to start an international discussion on the spread of both delegitimization of Israel and anti-Semitism in Sweden and Norway.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Swedish Public Television—Where Taxpayers’ Money Goes to Spreading Propaganda Lies

One of the things that define a democratic nation is freedom of the press. However, when the tax-funded television and radio broadcasters elect to use propaganda in their broadcasts, one has taken the first step away from the democratic principles, towards a dictatorship. This is exactly what is happening in Sweden.

Recently, SVT-Sweden's publicly funded television broadcasting company- issued a short teletext notice concerning the recent Israeli air strikes against strategic targets in Gaza, in retaliation for a rocket attack against Israel. The air strikes, the notice states, were aimed at two targets; a military training camp, and the “refugee tunnels” along the border to Egypt.

Let’s be clear about the Gaza-Egypt tunnel business. As documented by the mainstream media, and easily found on YouTube, the tunnels have been used for smuggling a large range of “goods”. Some of these include what may be termed consumer items—food supplies, fuel, appliances, and even sheep and cattle lowered and hauled up miserably on ropes. There has also been substantial human trafficking. But a substantial amount of the material brought in under the sealed Egyptian border includes drugs, weapons, missiles, and explosives.

These tunnels are fairly sophisticated, and have been dug out at considerable expense to the owners who, until recently, have made a very nice profit on their investment. Of course, anyone you see interviewed in these clips states that they are strictly in the grocery trade, but as anyone who has lived in the Middle East can tell you, these business owners paid some kind of kickback. Whether the payoff was made in cash, goods, or delivery services, the tunnels have been useful and good business for the Hamas regime.

Claiming these tunnels were “refugee tunnels” is a totally disingenuous misnomer, both because, as we have seen, that is not the purpose of these tunnels, but for a second, more significant reason. Lately, the tunnel business has been drying up. Yes, now that Israel has been trucking in even more consumer goods, the tunnels have become largely unnecessary for consumer goods. What that means is that now these tunnels have become almost exclusively weapons conduits.

When SVT, a publicly-funded broadcasting company, claims that Israel bombed refugees in retaliation for a rocket attack, it is not only wrong and purposely deceptive, but it gives credibility to the many rabid anti-Israeli leftists, and the not nearly as many but equally rabid anti-Israeli liberals and rightists, who are always quick to condemn “blood-thirsty”Israelis. Israel's opponents in Sweden are given another weapon to use in debates and op-eds, one which comes from a source which is considered to be reliable. Furthermore, it is disturbing that tunnels which are used for transporting weapons are described as being used by supposed Palestinian “refugees’ by a broadcaster funded by a compulsory fee, paid by all Swedes in possession of a television.

Notice that the Israeli action against weapons smuggling has been inverted to a “human suffering” story, while the renewed rocket attacks by Hamas directed against Israel’s civilian population, have been depersonalized to simply rocket attacks. The latest Hamas attacks hit the coastal city of Ashkelon and a children’s therapy center just outside the town of Sderot.  Does anyone need to ask how the upgraded rocket got into Gaza?

It should also be noted that there as late as yesterday five rockets were fired from the Egytian-controlled Sinai desert which borders Gaza. Islamic terrorists fired into the area of Eilat and its neighboring Jordanian city of Aqaba, killing one person and injuring four others. This is a major escalation of the situation with Hamas and its affiliated terrorist weapons suppliers and operatives.

What's more, SVT is not the only publicly-funded Swedish broadcaster to have joined the choir of Swedish media spreading anti-Israeli propaganda; their radio counterpart, SR, has been waging a campaign against Israel for years. The latest of SR’s attacks against Israel is an article concerning the recent demolition of an illegal Bedouin village in the Negev, which the author of the article claims is part of the “Jewification” of the Negev.

This article, then, implies that the Negev, which constitutes about half of Israel's land area, does not belong to Israel. Furthermore, by using the word “Jewification”, the author of the article blames not Israel, but the Jews, for the demolition of the Bedouin village, evoking the ancient anti-Semitic stereotype of the greedy Jew, who in this case is constantly grabbing for more land. With such images being conveyed by the publicly-funded broadcasting companies, perhaps one need no longer wonder about the causes of the ever-increasing levels of anti-Semitism in Sweden.

Sweden is a democracy. That is a simple fact. However, when the publicly-funded broadcasting channels publish anti-Israeli and even anti-Semitic propaganda, one begins to wonder for how much longer the humanitarian racists will permit free speech which runs counter to their agenda.

By Adam Eberhag and Chanah Shapira

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.

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.