Friday, April 29, 2011

Where’s the Cash Trail?

In an article  titled “Moderate u-turn on political party donations”, the Local reports on a seeming about-face by Moderates on donation disclosure.  Yesterday the Moderate party secretary announced in a Dagens Nyheter op-ed that the party would release a list of donors. The move comes after public debate and criticism from the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). GRECO first complained of lack of transparency and oversight in Swedish party financing two years ago.
While it is certainly admirable for the party to put out a list of donors who gave over 20,000 SEK ($3,300 USD), this is a non-substantive gesture. The fact is that the Moderates and other Swedish parties oppose party funding legislation. The Moderates’ stance goes against the majority in the Swedish legislature.
The Moderates want only informal “transparency”—voluntary disclosure with no legislative reform. It makes you question the reliability of Arkelsten’s statement that: “her party doesn't accept money from companies or organisations, and in 2009 received an average donation of 770 kronor from 2,500 individuals.” If disclosure is informal and voluntary, it leaves the door open to abuse.

Arkelsten blames the Social Democrats—who also oppose reform—for support from the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (Landsorganisationen) which is apparently not on the record. Christian Democrats have now come around to supporting the 20,000 SEK donor benchmark for disclosure, but also balk at reform legislation.

Rejection of legislation is suspect.  When Moderates blame Social Democrats for not disclosing the details of known union support, one wonders what foreign, organizational or corporate support the Moderates—or any of Sweden’s parties—may have received.

When Moderate Foreign Minister Carl Bildt advocates for Turkish admission to the EU, and runs to the airport to welcome Ship to Gaza activists, we wonder if this is simply his ideological support for Turkey and its policies, or if there is some other motivation.

There is also a Swedish practice of funding terror-related organizations through groups which operate with minimal transparency. But that doesn’t mean this is smart or ethical.

The Swedish government should mandate disclosure of party donors. Lack of transparency is an indicator that democracy is secondary to insider influence. 

By Chanah Shapira

Saturday, April 23, 2011

TT News Agency Ignores Bad (Flotilla) Memories

Knives and other weapons from Mavi Marmara: IDF photo
Here’s another item which has typically gone missing from the Swedish media. The monopoly foreign news source TT opted out of covering it. In this case a Panorama report by the BBC about the Flotilla/Ship to Gaza was found to be accurate overall and impartial, confirming that the Mavi Marmara activists were belligerent attackers.

The BBC Trust released the results of their investigation into over 50 “questionable” points submitted against the BBC’s Panorama documentary on the Gaza Flotilla titled “Death in the Med”. According to the Guardian—a newspaper which cannot be termed pro-Israel—the Beeb found three of these complaints to be valid:

-“...two relating to breaches of the BBC's editorial guidelines regarding accuracy and one on impartiality.
“The accuracy breaches related to the failure to include preliminary autopsy reports into how activists died and more details of the exact nature of the aid for Gaza being carried by the flotilla.
“Panorama was also found by the BBC Trust to have breached impartiality guidelines by not verifying that the Israelis took proper care of the badly wounded following allegations of mistreatment of some of the casualties.”

Note that the aid issue, which was covered by the Jerusalem Post, simply alleges that not all the medical aid was reviewed and found to be useless and expired, only the sample that was examined in the program. Storing useless equipment and pharmaceutical dumping are issues that Gazans themselves have complained about. Gazans have no proper methods of disposing with old meds, an ecological problem.

Regarding care for wounded enemy combatants, Flotilla participant Israeli Arab Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, actually tried to prevent  Israeli medics from caring for the wounded (see last minute of video). Apparently, it would wound their pride to be cared for by Israelis. The Israeli medic reminded her that he was the doctor, and did his job.  Ironically, Zoabi later charged that treatment of the wounded was delayed by the Israelis.

As the Ship to Gaza/Flotilla was a popular cause in the Swedish Press, and with so-called intellectuals such as author Henning Mankell, and Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (Moderate) it’s understandable that Panorama’s accuracy is an embarrassment to the Swedish media and governmental authorities. After all, the BBC crossed a lot of red lines when it showed the ship’s own security footage of the “peaceful” Turkish IHH “protesters” cutting metal rails to use as clubs against Israelis.

No wonder TT couldn’t be bothered to cover the story—when two notably pro-Palestinian media entities like the Beeb and the Guardian admit that a documentary justified the Israeli position, the report had no chance of appearing in any major Swedish newspapers.

By Chanah Shapira

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blogger Pays Fine for Anti-Semitic Statement

A Swedish elite land hockey player was recently charged with a fine for blogging anti-Semitic statements in his sports blog.
The blogger, who is neither political nor religiously involved, was discussing British football in his blog last year when he referred to one team as  ”greedy Jews”. In the same blog post he also spoke inappropriately about Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) in Nazi Germany.
He writes: I hope Liverpool will proceed  ”harder than the Germans did during the Kristallnacht” against Tottenham.
The blogger, Alexander Mayborn, claims to have “good values” and stated to tabloid Aftonbladet that his aim was not to harm anyone. He also stated that:
-Racism and Nazism is something that I distance myself from.
The Jewish community, however, did not appreciate his choice of words and pressed charges against Mayborn. The blog post clearly shows the insensitivity and cluelessness of many Swedes who think they have “good values” when they compare a football team to the Holocaust in which millions of people were slaughtered.
The blog post also shows how an elite sports player can easily post clearly anti-Semitic statements on the Internet for everyone to see. This is neither the first time it has happened. Also Swedish politicians such as Social Democrat and member of Parliament, Veronica Palm, has posted anti-Semitic expressions on her blog and when told off, stated that ”they might be interpreted as anti-Semtic”.
Anti-Semitism has spread during the recent years in Sweden and the jargon seems to be common on the Internet as well. Some people might just be plain stupid but there are those who are using the cover of stupidity to spread real messages. It’s important to repudiate anti-Semitic slurs and demand retractions. This frightening progression of the acceptability of hate speech must be stopped.

Friday, April 15, 2011

PLO Representative Fails to Show at Malmö Middle East Peace Initiative

Picture by Ingemar D Kristiansen from Sydsvenskan
Yesterday a peace event was held Malmö on the initiative by business man Dan Olofsson who wanted to bring together Palestinian and Israeli representatives in order to talk about a peaceful future in the Middle East.
The event, which was held in Malmö’s beautiful new dock, was to discuss peace in Middle  and also aimed at strengthening the dialogue forum that was set up in the city in 2010. The forum’s goal is to combat hate crimes such as anti-Semitism which have increased during the last years. The list of speakers included former PM Göran Persson (SD) as well as Alf Svensson from the Christian Democrats alongside Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan. The PLO general delegate to Germany who had been invited to represent the Palestinian side’s wish for peace, did not show up however, cancelling at the last minute referring to the ”situation in Gaza”.
While the money raised at the event will go to the dialogue forum founded by Malmö Mayor Reepalu, the mayor himself was not on the speaker list even though he claims to be at the forefront of combating hate crime in the city. Not bothering to participate in an event to support peace sponsored by own dialogue forum clearly and sadly shows his lack of interest in the matter.
Fred Kahn, the chairman of the Jewish community, was one local representative who participate in the dialogue forum and was also a speaker at yesterday’s event. Joining him was Palestinian leader and member of the Social Democrats, Jamal El-Haj, who spoke about goals of peace in the Middle East, or well, pretended to.
Fred Kahn, who is not a representative of Israeli interests, but of the Jewish community in Malmö, spoke about the need for Malmö citizens to be able to live together in peace, no matter what political stance parties in the Middle East are taking. Local Palestinian Jamal El-Haj, who started his speech by thanking all crowd members for being peace lovers, rather quickly shifted his focus from peace to promoting his own political agenda and his views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In his five-minute speech Jamal El-Haj rightly emphasized that Jewish individuals in Malmö cannot be responsible for the politics conducted by the state of Israel. He also said that it is important to understand the historical atrocities that have been conducted against the Jews, such as the Holocaust, which according to him are similar to what is happening to the Palestinian people in “occupied Palestine” today. Jamal El-Haj also expressed his despair that his parents allegedly aren’t able to return to their homeland, which is occupied by the Israelis. He cited various UN resolutions in which he falsely claimed it was stated that the Palestinians have the right to get all of Israel’s land. To summarize, Palestinian representative El-Haj used the opportunity of the forum for an inappropriate speech of Israel-bashing and Holocaust inversion. Little emphasis was put on any matter related to peaceful relations between Jews and Muslims in Malmö and no emphasis was put on peace related matters in the Middle East.
While the international PLO representative did not show up to support peace in the Middle East, Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan was present and gave a speech in which he quoted Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s recognition that both Palestinians as well as Israelis need to be able to get their fair share of land in the area which today is Israel and the West Bank. He also mentioned that Israel absolutely has no interest in governing any Palestinian territories and actively seeks to have a healthy, democratic and peaceful neighboring Palestinian state.
Former PM Göran Persson (SD) gave a fantastic speech together with Alf Svensson (KD) and spoke about old memories of meetings with Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat and emphasized that when it comes down to it, we are all people, and we all need to come together for peace, now.
The peace event in Malmö was a nice initiative that failed to deliver even a basic message of peace. The fact that the PLO delegate to Germany did not even show up to support the cause clearly sent a message that there still are many Palestinian representatives who cannot stand behind a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Not even if it means showing up at a symbolic event in the highly conflicted town of Malmö, with a large Muslim population.
The local Palestinian representative was arguably a poor choice of speaker for the event. Jamal El-Haj failed to speak about peace but included his own political views concerning the conflict, when he was invited to represent local Palestinians in Malmö and their wishes for peace.  He also made highly inappropriate comparisons between the situation in the Palestinian territories and the Holocaust. Comparing the situation in the Palestinian territories to the Holocaust, where 6 million Jews were systematically slaughtered, further emphasizes El-Haj’s intent to smear Israel instead of seeking peace and reconciliation. If he was honest, he would admit the complicity of Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini with Hitler in WWII, and try to move forward, instead of spouting Nazi inversion accusations against Israel.

While El-Haj wasn’t the official Palestinian representative, it is still interesting to hear that he never expressed that he wants to live side by side with Israelis, but merely conveyed his wishes for getting his “homeland” back—he is a “one-stater” who wants all of what today is Israel to be under Palestinian control. This is in no way the intent of the UN resolutions he referred to, nor the goal proposed in the international arena by parties such as the EU or Sweden.
While there are certainly members of both the Jewish and Muslim communities who would like to see a peaceful solution to the conflict in the Middle East, this event failed to deliver any notions of peace for the Middle East, and more importantly, the problems which all of Malmö’s citizens are facing today. Both Mayor Reepalu’s failure to participate and lend support to reconciliation, and the choice of an antagonistic local Palestinian representative left everyone feeling that the city authorities are still failing to improve and secure the citizens’ daily lives.
It’s time for Reepalu to do something for the citizens who employ him. And that’s something everyone can agree on.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Swedes Again Welcome Author of Alien Reptile Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

Photo: Klarg of Gorn Self-Help Website
Recently we saw that the Swedish group “Anarchos” has announced that it is again inviting UK conspiracy theorist David Icke to speak in Stockholm on May 8th—it’s a book promo of sorts for Icke.
Anarchos says that it “questions, challenges, reappraises and sometimes even provokes the conventional and main stream views and opinions in society”.  They also claim they “translate and provide, in Swedish, unique books of high quality with a content that are not previously available in Swedish in book form".  
Since I had never heard of Icke, I started digging around. Turns out that he has written a number of conspiracy theory books in which the “lizard people” from the constellation Draco control the world. It seems that these aliens have interbred with humans and the aliens and their half-breed spawn are controlling a lot of what goes on in the world. Oh, and Icke has also called himself the “son of God”.
Why does Anarchos claim this is “high quality” or even deserves “book form” when it sounds more like a cheap summer thriller movie than something anyone with a brain would take seriously? Surprisingly, not only does Icke have a following, but  his remarks on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion—that the authors “knew the game plan”—and other statements show him to be not just a nut, but an anti-Semite. He’s also questioned the Holocaust and has his own ideas about who was “really” responsible for 9/11. In fact, he appeared on a Canadian government list of racists and anti-Semites barred from entering Canada.

In a recent blog post he spews bile as he refers to someone who has circulated a photo what appears to be a disguised Palestinian missile launcher as:
-“...obviously Pro-Israeli War Crime, a proponent of the genocide of an occupied people...or maybe just a paid shill, an internet troll mouthpiece paid by AIPAC for this type of PR work...and only an uneducated zionist-friendly [re]tard could believe something so stupid”...

In a 2009 blog, Ted Ekeroth of the Sweden Democrats commented on left-wing extremist group Anarchos’ promotion of Icke and his work. Ekeroth described Icke as writing “gross anti-Semitic material”, and scoffed at Icke’s reptilian domination theories.

It is pathetic and deplorable that Icke is popular enough in Sweden to make a return visit profitable for him and his promoters at Anarchos, and for his website to include Swedish near the top of its language options.  Maybe what Anarchos means by challenging mainstream thought is denying the Holocaust and spouting outlandish and anti-Semitic conspiracies. If that’s Anarchos’ game, and the Swedish authorities are interested in stopping hate speech, Icke should be denied entry into Sweden.
By Chanah Shapira

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hamas Escalation: Precision Anti-Tank Missile Hits Israeli School Bus

More News You (Mostly) Don’t Get In Sweden
Update note: This post was written on Friday afternoon--due to technical glitches we are posting only now.  Since then Ynetnews reports that over 120 rockets and mortar shells were fired from Gaza over the weekend, including a Grad missile fired today.  The Iron Dome defense system knocked out a number of incoming missiles, but one rocket hit a power cable causing a blackout for several communities in the strike zone.

Yesterday afternoon Reuters, the Jerusalem Post and other sources reported that an anti-tank missile was fired at a school bus near Kibbutz Saad, about 2.5 km from Gaza. Only one student remained on the bus, otherwise many children would have been casualties of the attack. The16-year-old boy is still in critical condition with severe head injuries; the driver and others were also injured.
Articles by three leading Swedish newspapers on this attack were virtually identical. (The Local had no coverage.) Aftonbladet, Svenska Dagbladet, and Dagens Nyheter all carried the same headline: “Israel shot down rockets”. In other words, they buried the story of the school bus attack under a leader on the Iron Dome defense system, which is designed to counter short-range missiles which are routinely fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza at Israel’s civilians. An Iron Dome battery has been put in place just south of Ashkelon and another near Beersheva, just as increasing numbers of rockets are slamming Israel’s south.  While the Swedish reports claim that two rockets were taken down by the Iron Dome, other media note only one Grad missile targeting civilians in the South was shot down.  All Swedish reports omit the folllowing item covered by the JPost:

“Immediately after the attack, Palestinians fired more than 45 mortar shells and Katyusha and Kassam rockets into Israel.”

Swedish media clearly subordinated the attack on the school bus to inflated reportage on Israel’s defense capacity which was portrayed aggressively. The TT-generated reporting ignored the barrage of smaller, but also dangerous rocket fire.

Swedish press misreporting also includes describing the hit on the school bus as a grenade attack. But the school bus was not hit with a simple thrown grenade, or a short-range rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) nor with the very widely-used armor-piercing Swedish- made Bofors AT4, which has a 300-meter range.

In fact, as we noted, the bus was hit 2.5 km from the Gaza border; according to an unnamed military source, the weapon was identified as a Russian-made Kornet guided anti-tank missile with a range of up to 5.5 km and an accuracy of 5 meters or less. According to the JPost:

“IDF officers said that the attack – the first time an anti-tank missile was fired deep into Israel, and, officers believe, deliberately targeting the school bus – ‘crossed all red lines’…The IDF had intelligence about the attack, which was carried out in retaliation for the bombing of a car last Saturday in southern Gaza carrying senior Hamas operatives planning attacks against Israelis visiting Sinai.”

Here are more key details omitted in Swedish reports:
·         Israeli citizens in the area were ordered to stay home in protected rooms
·         At least one home sustained a direct mortar hit
·         During barrages, pupils were forced to remain in safe rooms at kindergartens and schools
·         Armored buses were needed to take pupils home
·         Certain roads were sealed off due to mortar fire
·         Under army escort, teams of mental health professionals were brought in to help residents cope with the attacks
Once again, the Swedish media has managed to ignore increasing attacks on Israeli civilians carried out by terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Under these conditions, Israel has no choice but to target Hamas terrorists and their weapons shipments. But given the way the Swedish government-supported media reports these events, Swedes will yet again blame Israel for defending its civilians against terrorists who attack Israeli schoolchildren with advanced weapons.

By Chanah Shapira 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Swedish Media Ignore Goldstone's Retraction of Report Conclusions

Today, Tundra Tabloids is running an English translation of an excellent op-ed by Ted Ekeroth (Sweden Democrats) on Judge Richard Goldstone's about-face on the UNHRC report condemning Israel. There's no surprise for regular readers that the Swedish media barely reported the retraction. Goldstone has finally confessed that Israel was targeting rocket launchers, not civilians, claiming that this information was somehow unavailable at the time the report was written. Goldstone also admitted that the report mandate was biased, and that Hamas has done absolutely nothing to investigate charges against it.
The Jerusalem Post  had this memorable quote from a prominent member of Goldstone's South African home communitywhich ostracized Goldstone following the publishing of the report:
-“'There’s a famous story about a man standing up...and saying somebody’s sister is a prostitute,' David Hersch, national vice chairman of the South African Zionist Federation, said.
“'Then it turns out not only that she isn’t a prostitute, but that he doesn’t even have a sister. But the rumor is out there. This is the same thing.'”
It seems that regarding the UNHRC Goldstone report, the Swedish media prefers to stick to the prostitute story. And as Ekeroth writes, this kind of Israel-bashing only leads to more anti-Semitismas Malmö’s Mayor Ilmar Reepalu knows only too well.
By Chanah Shapira

Monday, April 4, 2011

Church of Sweden: Christianity Is Not for Asylum Seekers

An article appearing today in the Local (via TT news service), reports a radical departure from Christian practice.  A Bishop’s letter urges priests of the Church of Sweden not to christen new Christian converts if they are refugees. The main rationale is that conversion could prove dangerous if the refugees are deported back to their home countries.
Of course, the Local fails to explain why or where conversion presents a danger. Political correctness prevents the Local from stating that Christians are often a target for terrorism in Muslim countries.  In Baghdad last November the brutal murders perpetrated by Islamic terrorists killed 58 and wounded nearly 80 other Christians. This was the worst, but not the only violent incident targeting Christians in Iraq.
As we reported in January, Sweden deported Christian Iraqis back to Iraq on “death flights” this year, despite protests and concern for human rights violations. Approximately 70 protesters were arrested when they opposed the government’s actions.
Now in a hypocritical statement amounting to complicity with morally questionable government policy, the Church of Sweden has “solved” part of the problem of anti-Christian terror by eliminating Christianity from the equation. In this warped logic, if deportees are not Christian (i.e. Muslim) it "fixes" the problem of violence against minorities  by not expanding the minority population. The bishop’s letter also questions the sincerity of refugee converts.
It’s interesting to compare this to the position of the Swedish Church on the Palestinian liberation theology manifesto, the supersessionist Kairos Document . The Swedish Church seems to support Christians living in the Palestinian Authority (and presumably Hamas-led Gaza), despite Islamist pressure on these diminishing and threatened communities. But, according to the Swedish Church, the troubles of Palestinian Christians are Palestinian problems, to be seen in the context of Christian faith:
-“In the Kairos document we have now received a different message from you – our Palestinian sisters and brothers in Christ. It is a cry from the heart of Palestinian suffering, giving voice to an honest and intensive reflection about the meaning of Christian faith in the difficult situation you are experiencing.”

The Swedish Church treats the problem of Islamic terror and repression against Christians by either restricting its own spread of Christianity, or, in the Palestinian context, by putting the blame for the woes of Christians on Israel.

The Church of Sweden is clearly not supporting Middle Eastern Christians with its hypocritical and apologetic stance. By denying official Church conversion to asylum seekers in Sweden, its position clearly puts the blame for terror on some of the oldest Christian communities in the world. And in its complicity with anti-humanitarian Swedish government policies, the Church fails to provide moral leadership, Christian or otherwise.
By Chanah Shapira