In January of 2009, Benny Dagan, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, visited Uppsala (a city not far from Sweden’s capital Stockholm) where he was met by an agitated crowd. The ambassador had come to visit the “Livets ord” (Word of Life) community. “Livets ord” is a fundamentalist church, which has taken a number of controversial stances, including allying itself with Christian movements in the U.S. which are sympathetic towards Israel. At the “Livets ord” church hall, Dagan encountered a crowd of some 30 demonstrators and a number of policemen who were present to keep the hostile demonstrators under control.
The situation has been reported as a near-riot; according to policemen present, a 45-year old women shouted out “Death to all Jews” loudly enough so that many people in the crowd heard it. She also allegedly threatened to kill one of the policemen who was there to maintain order, although this charge was dropped in her favor.
The woman, who has now been convicted for incitement to racial hatred, later denied the allegations. Despite her protestations of innocence, she was found guilty in a district court that accepted the testimony of the policemen who were present at the demonstration. Her sentence is probation and a fine of 3,600 SEK ($560 US). This is a seemingly mild sentence for threatening an ambassador (and possibly an officer of the law) with death.
It should be noted that this was not the last hostile encounter with Swedish hate-mongers for Ambassador Dagan. In the following month, during a lecture Dagan was giving at the University of Stockholm, two individuals threw objects at him, one heaving a shoe and the other a book. It should be noted that the thrown shoe is an Islamic insult, and using a book to try and hit someone, as far as we can tell, is something illiterates would do. Using a university forum—which is supposed to be a forum of ideas—as an opportunity for physical violence parallels the Lars Vilks lecture (which began as verbal aggression, and ended in a brawl). In the case of his lecture, Dagan soldiered on and was able to complete his talk about Operation Cast Lead.
The Swedish court’s decision to drop the threat charges and level a small fine against the woman may reflect bias in the courts. Hate speech in Sweden has in the past resulted in one-month prison terms, and heavy fines. Interestingly, the court did hand down a one-month sentence against a fundamentalist pastor who quoted Biblical references against homosexuality. So it seems that when speech conflicts with a liberal agenda, more severe punishment is meted out.Many posts on this blog have been devoted to showing how the governmental authorities are complicit in contributing to the acceptance of anti-Semitic attitudes and aggression in Sweden. This recent court decision is definitely another case where the authorities have missed an opportunity to correct their course of hypocrisy.