Swedish Jews don’t get it

The Aftonbladet scandal — in which the Swedish government refused to condemn an antisemitic and Zionophobic newspaper article which accused the IDF of stealing organs from dead Palestinians, falsely claiming that to do so would violate the Swedish constitution — brings the difference between the attitudes of Jews in the Diaspora and the Jewish state into sharp focus.

Here is how Israeli officials responded:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We do not want the Swedish government to apologize, we want it to issue a condemnation.” Netanyahu called the accusations “outrageous” and equated them to blood libels.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) also addressed the affair, saying “there is a crisis until Sweden offers a different response. The Jewish state cannot ignore such a manifestation of anti-Semitism. “Anyone who is unwilling to condemn such a blood libel could be considered unwanted in Israel,” Steinitz said. — YNet

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the government’s position would not have been as sharp had Sweden not reprimanded its own envoy for condemning the inflammatory article. The foreign minister said there was a degree of hypocrisy in the Swedish position – claiming they don’t interfere in freedom of the press – when in 2006 the Swedish foreign minister sent a letter to a Yemenite leader apologizing for offensive caricatures of the prophet Mohammed…

Ambassador to Sweden Benny Dagan lashed out at a Swedish reporter Sunday who asked him whether Israel should investigate the claims. “You know what, I have a suggestion for you,” Dagan retorted. “Why won’t you investigate why the Mossad and the Jews were behind the bombing of the twin towers? Why won’t we investigate why Jews are spreading AIDS in the Arab countries? Why won’t we investigate why Jews killed [Christian children to bake Matzot on Pessah]?” — Jerusalem Post

But some Swedish Jews don’t see it this way. It was painful to read the following:

According to Lena Posner, head of the Jewish community in Stockholm and president of the Official Council of Jewish Communities in Sweden, “Israel caused all this mess.”

Posner told Ynet, “The article was published here on Monday, but no one paid any attention to it. It wasn’t a news report and was buried in the back pages of a tabloid. The writer is known to many of us as anti-Israel, and so it the entire paper. This is why no one took it seriously – until Israel got involved.”

It appears that the affair has turned the Aftonbladet reporter, Donald Boström, into the star of news broadcasts. How did he get the great “scoop” on the Palestinian organ theft?

“He met a Palestinian youth in 1992 and based an article on an interview with him, because he wanted 15 minutes of fame for himself,” said Posner. “Now he is extorting this whole thing to the very end. He is a no-good, and has now become a famous person appearing on prime-time TV and radio every day. If the Israeli elements had avoided responding like they did, no one would have noticed and it would have never become part of the agenda. This is why we are so agitated here.” — YNet

They should be agitated, but for a different reason.

They should be agitated because, just as happened in pre-war Germany, the heat is being turned up on the pot of hatred, and their government is close to complicit in it. Do they think that the vituperation poured out on Israel is ‘legitimate criticism of policy’ and doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Israel is the state of the Jewish People?

Do they think that expressions like Boström’s article will simply go away if ignored? Do they think that because they are Swedish Jews they are not connected to accusations against Israeli Jews? Do they think that their ‘progressive’ government will protect them against Jew-hatred? If there is a pogrom in Stockholm next week, will the government claim that it is a legitimate expression of the antisemites’ right to free speech? Next year?

The precedent is not encouraging.

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One Response to “Swedish Jews don’t get it”

  1. Shalom Freedman says:

    The research of Manfred Gerstenfeld , perhaps the best expert there is, on small European Jewish communities, suggests that Swedish Jews are among the most intimidated in Europe. There is a vicious anti- Israeli atmosphere in the Swedish polity. This comes from the growing Islamic community but also from the Radical Left so strong in Sweden. There is also the neo- Nazi element. Swedish Jewry is very small, and very powerless. They just want to hide and be left alone.
    What they say is not to be taken seriously in itself but rather seen as a reflection of their powerless position.