Friday, March 30, 2012

Neuding: Europe Must Change Policy and Perceptions

Neuding: Seeing things as they are
As we have written here recently, violent hate crimes in France are a reflection of both failed immigration policies and a failure to defend citizens against criminal and terror elements. In a blog post published today, Paulina Neuding of Neo extracts conclusions from both the Islamically-motivated Toulouse attacks and her interview with Malmö Mayor Ilmar Reepalu in which he paradoxically accused Malmö's threatened Jewish community of spreading anti-Muslim hatred. 

Neuding points out the European fallacy of simplistically equating the contentions of Muslim and Jewish groups, misplaced desire to be "even-handed" even where no equivalency exists. Accordingly, Swedish authorities, whether on the municipal level (Reepalu)or the international level (Bildt) are unwilling to change their policy approach to immigration, integration, and control of dangerous elements. Neuding has a hard look at possible scenarios and solutions in her article, ominously titled "Dark Continent":

"...we are, unfortunately, increasingly well acquainted with this imported anti-Semitism, which is proving to be extremely difficult for European societies to confront. No one wants to blame or stigmatize another minority for anti-Semitic hate crimes, but Europe’s Jews are finding themselves in an increasingly difficult situation.

"Europeans often choose to avoid the problem by viewing it as a conflict between two groups, with responsibility falling equally on both sides. When I asked Malmö’s mayor, Ilmar Reepalu, about the threats against Malmö’s Jews, he claimed that the city’s Jewish community was being “infiltrated” by the Sweden Democrats – an anti-immigration party with roots in the Swedish neo-Nazi movement – with the implication that Malmö’s Jews were on an equal footing with the anti-Semites persecuting them.

"Reepalu had to retract his claim as soon as the interview was published. Yet he acted on the popular notion that anti-Semitic attacks by Arab youths in Europe are part of a cycle of reciprocal violence that yields a kind of moral equivalence."

Full article here.

By Chanah Shapira

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bildt on Iran

Sometimes the title of an article is a red flag warning that the author has tunnel vision, and you are not going to get the whole picture. It's probably also a sign that what you don't get could be pretty significant. Last week Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (Moderate Party) co-authored a New York times op-ed with Finnish FM Erkki Tuomioja. The title was "The Only Option on Iran".  Actually, if you have only one choice, it's not really an "option".  What Bildt posits is that doing nothing about the Iranian nuclear weapons program, is a better "option" than preventing Iran from advancing along its ambition to be a nuclear power, which is in fact the other option.

The FMs write:

-"We are deeply concerned about all the loose talk regarding a possible military attack on Iran because of the growing uncertainty over parts of its nuclear program.

"Not only would such an attack be a clear violation of the charter of the United Nations. It could have severely negative repercussions across the region and be counterproductive to the very objectives it would seek to achieve.

"It is difficult to see a single action more likely to drive Iran into taking the final decision to acquire nuclear weapons than an attack on the country. And once such a decision was made, it would only be a matter of time before a nuclear-armed Iran became a reality."

The key whitewashing and wishing are set out in this introduction. While it is certain that the Iranians are openly enriching uranium and building and test-firing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, this is fluffed over by the authors as "uncertainty over parts of its nuclear program".

Bildt and his Finnish colleague conveniently leave out any mention of Israel in the article. Yet continued calls by Iran's leaders to wipe out Israel constitute incitement to genocide which is a clear violation of the U.N. charter, and demands condemnation. Failing to point out the regime's stated raison d'etre of its nuclear ambitions is a dishonest omission.

Thirdly, claiming that an atack on Iran would be the cause of Iran actually producing weapons, and insistence on the pursuit of diplomacy is wishful and dangerous thinking. For Israel and the Western world, actively containing the Iranian nuclear weapons program is an existential necessity and a means to maintain stability in the Middle East. The Saudis, fearing Iran's ambitions have called on the West to "cut off the head of the snake".

Wake up Bildt. The locals know better what needs to be done.

By Chanah Shapira

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Reepalu Refuses to "Normalize" Relations with Malmö's Jews

Anyone who has followed the series of anti-Semitic insults which Malmö's Mayor Ilmar Reepalu (Social Democrat) flings out from time to time will not be surprised at his response to the Jewish community.  Following his standard pattern, Reepalu has again added insult to injury by telling the Swedish national wire service TT that he has given up on relations with the Jewish community.
According to an article posted on Swedish website Scanomark:

-"Ilmar Reepalu on his part told the Swedish news network, TT that he has never been anti-Semitic. But that he will not try to do something to normalize relations with Jews.
'No, what can I do? They will not listen.'"

Listen to what? More insults? More accusations? Actually, the Jewish community has heard plenty from Reepalu, but what they'd like to hear is an apology and a plan of action for better security.

While the Social Dems' leader Stefan Löfven  has invited the Jewish community leadership to meet with the party in early April, this is still a far cry from publicly asking Reepalu to step down.

By Chanah Shapira

Reepalu Fiasco: Social Democrats' Failed Leadership

Social Dems: Blaming the Jews
There was a time when the Social Democratic Party of Sweden was a powerful force for change, striving for a society based on equality, a society where everyone was equally welcome, regardless of gender, age, religion, nationality or ethnicity.
That was a long time ago.
With the far-right movements of Sweden being small and weak, it seems that members of the political Left have taken it upon themselves to carry on the long and proud European tradition of anti-Semitism. Arguably the greatest champion for hatred of Jews in Sweden is Ilmar Reepalu, the Social Democratic mayor of Sweden's third largest city, Malmö.
It all began three years ago, during Operation: Cast Lead. A group of Jewish residents of Malmö had gathered to express their heartfelt support for all the victims of the war, be they Jewish, Arabic, or otherwise. The rally was soon attacked by a violent mob of Islamist extremists, who threw bottles and fired rockets into the crowd. Reepalu, when asked to comment on this, blamed the Jewish residents of Malmö, saying that they should have publicly denounced the state of Israel. If they had done so, Reepalu reasoned, then they wouldn't have been attacked. He went on to say that Malmö ”accepts neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism”.
Now, there is obviously a problem with the above statement. Anti-Semitism is a racist ideology, claiming that Jews are inferior or evil for no other reason than because we are Jews. Zionism, on the other hand, is the belief that Jews, as a people, have the right of self-determination, as well as pride in the shared cultural heritage of the Jewish people. Saying that this is as bad as hating someone simply for being born by the ”wrong” parents is odd, to say the least. However, so far, this can be chalked up to ignorance. Annoying, certainly. Infuriating, sure. But not racist. The claim that Swedish Jews should denounce Israel in order to avoid being attacked in broad daylight is worse, but one can just assume that the man is simply that dense.
However, it doesn't end there.
When confronted by various Jewish groups and organizations, Reepalu complained to the media that there were people out to get him, hinting at dark, shadowy organizations with vast power.
Recognize that line of reasoning from somewhere?
This is an accusation he has repeated a number of times, apparently refusing to accept that the source of the steady stream of criticism against him from Swedish Jews, Liberals, and sane Leftists (of which there are actually quite a few, as it turns out) is his own repeated slandering of Sweden's Jews. When the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote to the Swedish Minister of Justice about the persecution of minorities in Malmö, pointing out the situation for Africans and Roma in particular, Reepalu, instead of accepting responsibility, accused the Center of trying to divert attention from Israel and its' ”violations of human rights”.
In his attempts to slander Sweden's Jews, he recently tried to connect them with the anti-immigration Sweden Democratic Party, a party which is strongly disliked among a majority of Swedes, claiming that members of the Party had ”infiltrated the Jewish community in order to spread their hatred of Moslems”. The truth is the opposite; the Sweden Democrats have given up all hope for Sweden's Jews, claiming that they are simply too naïve to see the threat immigration poses to them. One high-ranking party official is from a Jewish background, and he wants to ban circumcision and kosher meat.
However, the straw that finally broke the camel's back was when, in a radio interview, Reepalu recently accused the Jews of Malmö of being an elitist group receiving preferrential treatment, percieving themselves as being worth more than other groups. He also claimed that the Jews are in control of the media, and that was why he was so heavily criticized whenever he made an anti-Semitic comment.
These are but a few examples, hastily thrown together during a short break from studying. Reepalu has established a pattern, one which he refuses to deviate from: if Jews are attacked, blame the Jews. If Jews are involved, in any way whatsoever, blame the Jews. If no Jews are involved, blame the Jews. It is painfully obvious that Reepalu is a pure anti-Semite, and his continued position as leader of a mayor Swedish city is nothing short of a disgrace.

By Adam Eberhag

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Malmö Mayor Reepalu Slurs Jews Again

Reepalu: Pathetic lies and accusations
Reepalu Attempted to Paint Malmö's Beleaguered Jewish Community as a Nest of Bigots

In an intervew in NEO which was published on Thursday, Ilmar Reepalu (Social Democrat) once again took aim at the Jewish community. This time Reepalu (who has blamed Malmö's Jews for anti-Semitic attacks directed against them) falsely claimed that the Jewish community has been "infiltrated" by the Sweden Democrats Party, alleging that Sweden Democrat MP Kent Ekeroth has been active in the Jewish community. Reepalu then accused SD elements as being responsible for inciting "anti-Muslim hatred" in the Jewish community.

Understandably, a brouhaha broke out in the media and Reepalu then backtracked in Dagens Nyheter, claiming that he misinterpreted Ekeroth's presence at a community meeting. After accusing the Jews of hate-mongering, that kind of "oops!" remark was a pathetic excuse.

Even the generally optimistic Jewish community leader Lena Posner Körösi lashed out at Reepalu in the Christian daily Världen idag. Pulling no punches, she called him an anti-Semite. The Jewish community also  berated Reepalu in a letter to the Social Democrat Party, which all key members of the community signed. The community consensus is that Reepalu has lost all remaining shreds of credibility.

In the NEO interview, journalist Paulina Neuding, asked Reepalu about ongoing issues of criminality prevalent in the immigrant community in Malmö. One victim of criminal brutality was her own 84-year-old grandmother who was knocked to the ground by a gang of thugs. In short, Reepalu's response was to claim credit for a supposed vast improvement in community relations, and then to accuse the Jewish community of propagating hatred.  By sticking a Sweden Democrat label on the Jewish community, Reepalu attempted to paint the Jews as all a pile of far-right hate-mongerers.

As Rabbi Abraham Cooper points out in a Jerusalem Post article, Reepalu's remarks were both contemptible and added to the tension in Malmö. Coming on the heels of the despicable murders in Toulouse last week, Reepalu's comments should be denounced by the Social Democrats, Cooper added.

Blaming the Jews for anti-Semitism is a not-so-subtle variety of inversion, where the Jews are accused of being the "Nazis". It is time for Malmö and the Social Democrats to ask Ilmar Reepalu to get another job, and preferably one where he has to keep his nasty mouth shut.

By Chanah Shapira

Friday, March 23, 2012

France and Sweden: Security Parallels

In an article entitled "Preventing the next attack: How does a community protect itself from unseen assailants?"
Anshel Pfeffer of Haaretz offers some thoughts about European Jewry and the security issues they are facing.   A key component is governmental ongoing denial of Muslim anti-Semitism.

-"One of the many contradictory remarks made by French Interior Minister Claude Gueant during the protracted saga of the shootings and siege in southwest France this week was that the terrorist Mohamed Merah 'wanted to kill another soldier, but did not find anyone so he turned to the Jewish school and killed the teacher and three children.'

"It reminded me of the old joke about the man walking up a street in Northern Ireland during the time of the Troubles. Someone sticks a gun in his back and demands 'are you Protestant or Catholic?'

"It's OK" answers the man with a sigh of relief, 'I'm Jewish.'

"To which the gunman responds, 'I must be the luckiest Palestinian in Belfast tonight.'

"Perhaps I should apologize for writing jokes during the week of the worst anti-Semitic attack in Western Europe for nearly three decades, but having seen the Ozar Hatorah high school in Toulouse this week and after interviewing some of the eye-witnesses to the attack, the idea that Merah just turned up at the school on the off chance and killed a rabbi and three young children is so ridiculous as to be laughable...There is no way that such an attack could have been carried out unless Mareh scouted out the target in advance, observing it at length to find the most advantageous timing for his purpose."

The article in full is available here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Following Murders in France, Swedish Jews Upgrade Security

Miriam Monsonego ז''ל age 8, one victim of Toulouse murderer 
Tension has spread in Europe following the Toulouse shootings at a Jewish school which left one teacher, his two small boys and the principal's daughter dead. Lena Posner-Koeroesi, the head of  the Official Council of Swedish Jewish Communities, spoke with the Svenska Dagbladet daily regarding security measures now in effect for Jewish institutions in Sweden.

According to Posner-Koeroesi, the community has tightened security at Jewish institutions across Sweden, and especially at schools to protect children learning in Jewish frameworks:

-"Staff and Directors have issued information to parents and answered questions. We're pretty well prepared and have a high awareness of the crisis, so we're pretty well prepared for various scenarios. There are procedures for how to go out and inform if other measures are necessary others."

A throwaway line in the article noted that the Assembly has instituted an action which is supposed to boost security for the Jews in Sweden.

It appears from this report that the Jewish community itself is taking responsibility for the security increase. Certainly neither this report, nor that in the Local offers any comment made by the Swedish government regarding increased security assistance for the Jewish Community.

Readers may recall that monies were allocated from the 2012 national budget to bolster security at Jewish communal facilities. Why is this not mentioned?

By Chanah Shapira

Monday, March 19, 2012

Christian Art Exhibit Featured "Jewish Rats"

A lot like Die Stuermer...      photo:Bilda
A recent art exhibit stirred controversy as it included a poster showing three rats  nibbling away the West Bank. One rat has an assault rifle on his back  The poster was rapidly construed as an anti-Semitic slur showing the Israelis/Jews as vermin. In fact it would be hard to construe it any other way. As Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center noted in the JPost:

-"The use of animalization in caricatures was a favorite propaganda tactic of Nazis, later used by Soviet and Arab cartoonists to dehumanize Jews."

The Local quotes a far-right Swedish group's comment on the poster:

- "Swedish artists grasped that Jews were violent pests'".

Bilda, the exhibit's organizer, which is a state-funded Christian organization has published a semi-apology, in which they express their regrets for creating an internet brouhaha and straying from their mission to be even-handed and inoffensive:

-"Studieförbundet Bilda has made a mistake, and we want to apologise for this.

-"There are reasons to criticise how Bilda marketed Stefan Sjöblom’s and Larz Lindqvist's exhibition 'The holy land – the holey country'. We should have realized how wrong a picture of cheese and mice could lead people’s thoughts, and how, for example, could be exploited in anti-Semitic circles. The intention of this image was to describe how all sides in a conflict are losers." Ja.

And here's another non-apologetic line:

-"We are aware that we are always at risk in one way or another, to get mixed up in the Middle East conflict."

This was originally penned in Swedish, so a better translation would perhaps have been "All those people are so touchy, and this time we really stepped in it through no fault of our own."

Despite the final lines in which the the group "evenhandedly" apologizes to "everyone" they offended, at no point in their public apology does Bilda actually apologize to Jews for the anti-Semitic character of the poster. Their  spokesman Magnus Stenberg has tried to describe as depicting as "Israelis or Palestinian leaders". Blaming all Israelis, but only Palestinian leadership for the Arab-Israeli conflict only throws more fat in the fire.

By Chanah Shapira

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Gaza According to Aftonbladet: Omissions, etc.

Gaza rocket hits Eshkol  (Ynet)
Today's report currently up on Aftonbladet's website claims the truce between Israel and Gaza is fragile but still holding with barely any firing at Israel from Gaza:

-"A fragile cease-fire has virtually stopped four days of violence in and around the Gaza Strip...The Air Force attacked a farm outside the city of Gaza and an undeveloped area outside the Khan Yunis in the south. None of the attacks hurt anyone, said the Palestinians. According to Israeli military raids were in response to a Palestinian rocket fired at the city of Beer Sheba."

Note that the truce seems to indicate that the violence was caused by Israeli attacks on Gaza, with no mention of the barrage of rockets that Gaza fired at Israel's civilian population. A better and truer account is provided by Ynet:

-"...several rockets were fired at western Negev communities from the Strip.

 "Gaza terrorists fired a Grad rocket at Ashdod, which was intercepted by a nearby Iron Dome battery. Moments later Qassam rockets hit open areas in Eshkol Regional Council and the outskirts of Hof Ashkelon Regional Council. 

"The IDF refrained from targeting any terror hubs in the Strip Thursday, following a request from Egypt to temper its response in order "not to lose proportions" and allow the ceasefire time to take effect."

Ynet also notes that both today and tomorrow Israeli schoolkids are home from school. Most kids and their parents have better access to bomb shelters at home--short warning times and limited shelter space at schools make it unsafe to try to shepherd large numbers of kids down into shelters with less than a minute's warning.

"Following the sporadic rocket fire and mounting security concerns, several municipalities, including Ashdod, Ashkelon, Beersheba, Ofakim and Gan Yavne announced that they intend to suspend Friday's school day."

Note that the range of fire has greatly expanded with the use of weapons such as Grad missiles and upgraded Kassam rockets. So, despite Aftonbladet's breezy description of how Israelis are still "raiding" and Palestinians are barely shooting anything, the truth is that Israeli life in the South is still disrupted by continuing strikes targeting even more Israeli civilians.

By Chanah Shapira

Swedish Court Denies Legality of Sharia Minor Marriage

Not in Sweden    (photo: UNICEF)
In a refreshing turn of events, the Local reports that a Swedish court overturned a previous decision to accept as legal the marriage of an immigrant woman who was underage at the time of the marriage. The unnamed woman was married in Hebron in the West Bank before she was 18. A 2004 Swedish law strikes down the legality of marriages contracted abroad by minors. It's a sign that the law designed to prevent child marriage has some teeth:

A Swedish court has ruled that a 17-year-old girl's marriage by a Sharia court in the West Bank is invalid in Sweden, overturning a lower court's decision.

The girl, who is now 19-years-old, was married in June 2010 in a Sharia court located in the West Bank town of Hebron, ten days before her 18th birthday, according to Swedish court documents.

When she and her husband moved to Sweden they sought to have their marriage registered with the Swedish Tax Agency (Skatteverket).

But the agency denied the couple's application, arguing the marriage couldn't be registered in Sweden because the woman hadn't turned 18 at the time of the wedding.

In 2004, a change to Swedish law meant to prevent child marriages made marriage under the age of 18 illegal, even if the marriage was entered into abroad. 

Full story here.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Swedish Reporting Bias: Gaza

If you line up two of today's reports on the recent bang-boom in Southern Israel and Gaza, you get—surprise!—a tidy example of how Aftonbladet (of the Swedish government-subsidized media) slants the news for gullible Swedes. For comparison, I have used the left-leaning Israeli daily, the Haaretz.

 IDF knocks out missiles heading for Israeli civilians (Reuters)

Aftonbladet headline:
Truce in Gaza [Wasn’t that between Gaza and Israel?]  
At least 25 people have died in weekend attacks

Haaretz headline:  

Some 200 rockets hit Israel since start of latest Gaza escalation [Events on the other side of the border explain why a truce has to be two-sided]

Aftonbladet: Last Friday’s rocket fire from Gaza against Israel launched the latest clash. [Actually, Israel took out Islamic Jihad leadership due to good intel that another major cross border terror attack was imminent.]

The Israelis then responded with violent air raids [note that firing hundreds of rockets at Israeli civilians is not termed “violent”], which include Zuheir al-Quessi, leader of the Palestinian People's Resistance Committees (PRC), who was killed when his car was blown to pieces. [Graphic, but see major terror threat, above.]

The [IDF] chief of staff [Benny Gantz]said there is still a danger that a terror cell can carry out a "strategic" attack against Israel, adding that, "all of Israel is under a potential threat."
Aftonbladet: Five civilians killed All in all, at least 25 people have died in the four days of clashes, five civilians.
Haaretz:  26 Palestinians were killed as a result of IAF strikes on Gaza. Out of these 22 were militants and 4 were civilians who were in the area of IAF strikes, but were not involved in the rocket fire.
Analysis: Wow! In this operation the terrorist-to-civilian kill ratio for the Israeli Defense Forces is 85%. (For an interesting look at these stats for the U.S. military have a look here.) But the Gaza rockets purposely target Israeli civilians. That wasn’t in the Aftonbladet article. Neither was the fact that the IDF and the Israeli government provide defensive measures for civilians. These include the Iron Dome anti-missile system, and bomb shelters.  On the other hand, as Gantz pointed out , Gaza’s “civilian deaths were the result of Gaza militants operating in civilian areas.”

When Swedish media organs give only half a story, that’s not news, that’s propaganda.

By Chanah Shapira

Lundin: The Scandal That Won't Go Away

Bildt's & PM's Policy:  Look the other way!
Today's edition of the Local carries this item which shows that over half of Sweden's government ministers hold investments in Lundin Petroleum. Readers will recall that Lundin benefited from human rights abuses in Sudan, where murdering government opponents eased drilling ops for Lundin. When Aftonbladet broke the investment story, EU Minister Birgitta Ohlsson immediately dumped the shares from her portfolio. However, FM Carl Bildt's fellow Moderate Party member, PM Fredrick Reinfeldt, another shareholder, feels differently. His press secretary stated:

--"- In general, I believe that ministers should be careful not to comment on the individual funds' investments, especially if it concerns a matter which may be relevant for law enforcement. This is under investigation."

Afonbladet notes that several other ministers declined to comment.

By Chanah Shapira

Monday, March 12, 2012

Raoul Wallenberg Centennary Exhibit Video

With a Cameo by our pal, FM Carl Bildt 

In the exhibit's promo clip, Bildt introduces the exhibit says it's not about  Wallenberg's fate at the hands of the Stalinist regime, but Wallenberg's actions "saving tens and tens of thousands of people from the evils of the Nazi Empire". Bildt notes that the exhibit opened in Budapest and will tour also Moscow and "other places around the world".

Okay, is it just me, or did Bildt have a hard time saying Jews were murdered? The exhibit will also be shown in New York and Tel Aviv--were those also unmentionable?? Or just too Jewish...

Also not mentioned is Sweden's apparent unwillingness to pursue the issue of Wallenberg's fate at the hands of the Soviet regime. According to Soviet accounts,Wallenberg was held captive at least until his recorded death in July of 1947 in the notorious Lubyanka prison.

Nonetheless, the exhibit as described by its curator appears to be a thoughtful tribute on the 100th anniversary of Raoul Wallenberg's birth. Yihiyeh zichro baruch.

In recognition of the centenary of the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Swedish Institute and The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) present: To me there’s no other choice – Raoul Wallenberg 1912-2012, an exhibition about the rescuer of tens of thousands of Jews, on display in New York on March 13-24.

Armed only with his bravery and moral courage, the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust. Throughout 2012 – the centenary of Raoul Wallenberg’s birth – the exhibition To me there’s no other choice - Raoul Wallenberg 1912-2012 will travel all over the world. March 13 to 24, it will be presented at Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America in New York. In conjunction with the Holocaust Remembrance Day, the exhibition will also be on view at House of Sweden in Washington DC on April 19-30.

full article and clip here 

h/t to Inka