Friday, September 5, 2014

Delegitimizing Israel: Free Speech or Yelling “Fire” In a Crowded Theatre?

Last week’s Jerusalem Post weekend magazine included its round-up of European news, compiled by its European correspondent Andreas Berggren.  Berggren commented on statements made by Göran Rosenberg, whom he termed a “liberal”, regarding the right of Jews worldwide to criticize Israel.  We ask “where does one draw the line between legitimate criticisms and hate speech”?

Who is Mr. Rosenberg? He’s a Swedish author, famous inter alia, for being the son of Polish Holocaust survivors. He has written and published a book about his father’s experiences. In an Expressen column dated July 8th, Rosenberg terms Israel an “Apartheid State”.  Rosenberg complains that there will be “different justice” for the perpetrators of the terrorist murders of three Israeli teens, and the Israeli killers of the young Arab boy who was murdered in a deranged attack.  “Different justice for different people is the definition of apartheid,” Rosenberg states, and also “separate territories”. 

Enemy combatants from the PA do not get the same, hopefully thorough, due process as Israeli citizens.   That’s not “apartheid”. The Hamas terrorists are non-Israelis, engaging in acts of war by targeting and attacking civilians.  That’s a war crime, and so is using your own citizenry to shield you, something that Hamas does, and which is apparently of little or no concern to Mr. Rosenberg, as he does not and will not address the issue.

As for “separate territories”, this is the worst of Mr. Rosenberg’s canards, and it is code for rejecting Palestinian autonomy as it is now, preferring not the two-state solution, but a single, Palestinian bi-national state.  This is the fantasy of the anti-Israel extremists who salivate to think of the international community forcing this “merger” on Israel. It would include the return of the Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 and all of their descendants within the pre-1967 borders.  At best, the idea is to kill the State of Israel demographically, and at worst to totally eliminate Jews “from the river to the sea”. 
In sync with the bi-national Palestinian fantasy, Mr.  Rosenberg also complains that Israel unfairly wants the PA to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. How many Islamic countries with non-Islamic minorities style themselves specifically as Islamic—why can’t Israeli citizens have a Jewish state?  Total hypocrisy, especially if you compare the favorable situation for minorities in Israel and the abject persecution of minorities in Islamic-majority countries. 

Mr. Rosenberg’s critique is not about Israel’s policies—he is on factual thin ice regarding what actually is happening here. Rather, his main issue is with the existence of Israel as a Jewish State.  To add complexity to the situation, he is touting these opinions in a country where citizens who are identifiably Jewish are at risk of attack on the streets.  In other words, he is pouring gas on an already inflamed situation—this was already the case before the Protective Edge operation broke out, and is even worse now.

So do Jews have a right to criticize Israel? Mr. Rosenberg followed his “apartheid” article with one on August 12th about the power of the State of Israel, hoping that neither actual nor false accusations of anti-Semitism words and deeds will “poison” the criticism of Israel, as cited in the JPost.  In his opinion, life has never been better for Jews in Europe, except, perhaps in Hungary and Greece.  It’s very convenient for Mr. Rosenberg to forget the chaos in the streets of Rosengård and Rinkeby, and the repeated attacks on Jews and Jewish community sites.  On August 2nd, just ten days before the Israeli power article was published, anti-Semitic thugs again targeted Rabbi Kesselman of Malmö, and succeeded in breaking three synagogue windows.

There was nothing new in this kind of attack—but as reported by JTA , less than four months prior to the recent attack on the rabbi and the synagogue:

“…the district of Skåne, where Malmö is located, declined the Jewish community’s request to increase the number of security cameras around Jewish buildings.”
It is even more worrying that the authorities are declining the right of the Jewish community to implement self-defense.  Surveillance security would help put the perpetrators of hate crimes behind bars, and forbidding it is tacit acceptance of lawlessness. 

As in the case of the rapes and white slavery perpetuated in Rotherham, U.K., the authorities are unwilling to shine a light on the perpetrators—if they turn out to be Muslims, prosecuting them would be “racist”. So, in the end, the victims of Muslim aggression have no protection.
 There is no paradise of tolerance in Europe, and certainly not in Sweden. Jews are attacked out of simple Islamic Jew hatred, and more so when Israel acts in self defense, while the authorities fail protect Jewish citizens.  Mr. Rosenberg has every right to speak his mind, but sadly, what he brings to the mainstream Swedish discourse is his “Jewish legitimization” for adding to and aiding the delegitimization of Israel, and by default, Jews on the streets of Sweden.   

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ilya Meyer on Current and Past Swedish Demonization of Israel

Meyer photo: Times of Israel
 Ilya Meyer, who blogs in English here and here, writes about the anti-Israel attitude and actions which unify both right-and left-wing politicians in Sweden. In a meeting with diplomats and policy advisers, Meyer found a common thread and recommended tools to fight prejudice.  Here is the article which originally appeared as "Samsyn om demonisering av Israel".  Meyer terms Swedish political attitudes towards Israel a "sick obsession". We would add that while this was certainly as true 25 years ago as it is today, Sweden's poor record goes much farther back. Sweden banned kosher slaughter in the 1930's--even before the German Nazis did so. There is a long-running bias against Jews in Sweden, which has translated itself into rabid anti-Israel positions.  (We cranked the article through Google translate abbreviated a bit and smoothed the rough spots.)
Swedish "pundits" know better on Israel than the locals.  
Under Swedish pundits themselves ...Consensus on the demonization of Israel
Left or right does not matter, in Sweden is consensus among
obsessed politicians. At least when it comes to demonizing and opposing the Jewish state of Israel.
...Among the rest of [Zvi Mazel's] guests were former Ambassador to Sweden Moshe Yegar with wife Dvora, former Norway Ambassador David Zohar with his wife Nira, Professor Raphael Israeli of Hebrew University and Ariel Center for Policy Research with Swedish-born wife Margalit (Professor Israeli has previously given talks on the Middle East in Sweden), Manfred Gerstenfeld from the prestigious think tank Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), who, inter alia, wrote "Anti-Semitism in Norway, Behind the Humanitarian Mask", Professor Robert Wistrich of Hebrew University who is also rector of the University's International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, and Ilan Evyatar, news editor at the Jerusalem Post.
...They were very familiar with the Swedish news, Swedish news trends, Swedish domestic politics and the various political parties in the current situation, and manifestos. We exchanged many ideas and experiences, and probably this will have an impact both in Israel and here in Sweden.
...The most important was a comment by Moshe Yegar. He served as Israel's ambassador to Sweden between 1988 and 1991--a quarter century ago. At that time, just like today, it was part of an ambassador role to converse with senior representatives of all Swedish parliamentary parties. He thus had frequent contacts with, among others, Pierre Schori, who probably represented the outer extreme left wing of the Social Democrats, especially when it came to views on Israel, and Carl Bildt, who at the time was the right-wing Moderate Party leader.
Moshe Yegar said that...Left and Right in Sweden expressed the exact same antipathy toward Israel,
both treated the Israeli ambassador with the same disdain, both systematically ignored one side while they worked with the other side - the gun-toting Yasser Arafat. Already 25 years ago. [Ed. Note: Bildt showed consistency when he ran to greet Swedish Flotilla members on their return from supporting the Mavi Marmara terrorists.]
The Swedish political elite's attitude toward Israel is nothing new, in other words...This puts today's anti-Israel situation in Sweden in a sharp perspective. What is happening today is nothing new. However, what is new since the last 25 years is that now there is a wider public support for this sick obsession.
[Today we have electronic media.] ...But the electronic media are useless unless we use them. So be sure to disseminate, distribute articles and comments speak for Israel's cause...Do you see an anti-Semitic demonstration? Video it. You hear a manifestation of a call for violence against Jews or Israel? Record it. Use this speed to our advantage when it is something that should get a larger audience. In the past, the mainstream media simply remained silent to kill a story. Today, they can not - thanks to your smartphone. So use it. Often.
New today is also Google and all the other excellent search engines. Before you head into a discussion either face to face or via the written word, look up facts, check both one and three times that your claims are correct. It takes so little time now, it's a shame not to have secure facts behind you before you discuss with colleagues, school mates, newspaper readers, FB friends, and so on.
Newest of all is a new approach: to never back down or not stand our ground. Instead continuously advance. We must learn to constantly move forward. Do you know why? Because our opponents always move forward. Unless we do that, we end up behind. 25 years have passed since an Israeli ambassador noted that the Swedish left and the Swedish right wing is on the line in their hatred of the Jewish state - and we are still on the old barricades...The new anti-Semitism is spelled "anti-Zionism" and all our opponents express it. It is exactly the same disease, it is anti-Semitism in secret, anti-Semitism barely covered with little verbal cosmetics. We must constantly fight against anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, Islamism, racism and the constant attacks on human rights with the exact same strength and determination. For it is exactly the same disease...

The advice we received from all was to never give up, never stand still, never at rest. The advice we gave them was to ensure the spread news about Sweden both in the Israeli media and among the political establishment...

Reepalu: Mayor of Do-Nothing

Reepalu: No Problem, Zionist Criminals
A recent article in the Local reports on a survey of hate crimes reported versus charges pressed and convictions. Conclusion: many reports, no convictions. Please keep in mind that (as we have reported a number of times) the number of reports is far smaller than that actual occurrences reported.

Here are the figures:

-"Regional newspaper Sydsvenskan reports that Malmö processed a 'record' 480 hate crime complaints in a two-year span. But charges were filed in only 16 cases and none of the indictments led to a conviction.

-"None of the 44 anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in 2010 and 2011 even made it to a prosecutor, while one of the 23 reported islamophobic crimes resulted in criminal charges."

In Reepalu's Malmö, if you shout at or ignore a problem it goes away. NOT.

Muslim Malmö Resident vs. Anti-Semitism

Derakti visits Malmö Schul
One young Muslim resident of has decided to speak out against the tide of anti-Semitism in the city. According to 21-year-old Siavosh Derakhti, his family fled Iran looking for a better life. The American Trial Attorneys Defending Israel Blog quotes Derakhti:

-“I found out Jews are fleeing Malmo, that they feel scared and unsafe on the streets,” says Derakhti, who is studying to be a youth worker at Malmo University and Folkhögskola Hvilan college, both in southern Sweden. “And then I thought that something needs to be done. We can’t keep on letting this happen — not in a country like Sweden, and not in my hometown of Malmo.”

While Derakhti acknowledges that his advocacy may prove dangerous, he is determined to act and educate:

-Derakhti decided to educate his fellow Swedes about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust after learning not only how little his high school classmates knew, but that his school, Malmös Latinskola, was not trying to change the situation.
“In 25 years, they hadn’t invited any Holocaust survivors, and then they wonder how there are so many people who deny the Holocaust or don’t know a lot,” Derakhti says. After a struggle against school opposition and indifference he managed to organize a class trip to Poland. 
Derakhti credits his immigrant background and especially his father for helping him investigate the Holocaust.
-“My parents fled from dictatorship so their children could grow up in a peaceful place and experience democracy, and then to come to a country where there is hate, discrimination and racism on our streets, this is not acceptable. Something must be done,” Derakhti says.
We couldn't agree more.
Article in full is worth a read...

Photo credit: Swedish Committee Against Antisemitism

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Religiously Restricted In Sweden

Two Jewish law students from Canada recently took the opportunity to study at Sweden's Lund University as part of their final year course at Canada's Dalhousie University. Renée Zatzman and Alexandra Schwarz were warmly welcomed by Rabbi Kesselman in Malmö and the community for the Jewish High Holidays.

In addition to noting the very strict security measures in place, the students noted:

-"The community’s generosity has helped us adjust to life away from home and has given us a greater appreciation for something that can easily be taken for granted in Canada: the ability to openly practise our faith without fear."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Heil Hitler" and Stoning by Malmö School Bullies

Reepalu's town: Bad talk, no action
15-Year-Old Jewish Boy Targeted: Maybe Police Will Do Something

Or not...Arutz 7 reports another case of in-your-face flat-out anti-Semitism in Malmö:

-"The latest incidents took place over a period of several days, with the snowball and stoning attacks following two 'Hitler salutes' earlier in the week.
-"Comments by a local Jewish leader highlight the sense of futility in the Jewish community. Fred Kahn, head of the Jewish community in Malmo told the local newspaper Skånska Dagbladet, 'Things like this happen all the time in Malmo. It's nothing new. The difference is that nowadays people report things to the police, and that's good.'
-"Radio Sweden reported that a complaint was filed with the police, but prosecutors have not yet decided whether to or not to drop the case."

 What this incident and the most recent case we reported, is that in both these cases the offenses persisted over several days. Plenty of opportunity to catch the perpetrators, but the Swedish authorities are still thinking about whether they will do anything...