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tisdag 22 december 2009

Attack Bildt but not Sweden

The following is the English version of an article published in Israeli weekly Makor Rishon by Dr Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA).

The recent Swedish proposal to the European Union to recognize East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state was a severe hostile act against Israel. The proposal was watered down by other member countries. The attitude of Sweden which, for another few weeks, holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, may tempt Israel to hit back at the country’s government.

For several reasons, however, this strategy would be wrong. The anti-Israel campaign is led by one person, the Swedish Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Carl Bildt, who is the dominant figure in this government. Rather than targeting the entire government or country, Israel should focus on its major adversary in the current coalition.

Bildt’s hostile record toward Israel can be easily proved. On a Swedish radio program in April he said: “It is possible to make peace without Hamas the same way it is possible to make peace without Netanyahu on the Israeli side.” An Israeli Foreign Ministry official reacted diplomatically: “He clearly does not understand the difference between the leader of an Israeli political party and a group that is engaging in the terror that threatens Europe as much as Israel.”(1)

Bildt’s anti-Israeli sentiment came to the fore again in the Aftonbladet organ affair. In August this anti-Israeli daily published an article which accused Israel of killing Palestinians in order to acquire organs for transplant. Bildt refused to condemn it, saying that there is freedom of the press in Sweden and that the government therefore cannot condemn the press. When, however, a few weeks later, Aftonbladet published an article by a member of the right wing Sweden Democrats party, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt condemned it. Suddenly, when Israel was not concerned, it was permissible to criticize the same paper.

Ilya Meyer, a writer who has held senior positions in the Swedish Jewish community, has a blog which reports regularly – in both English and Swedish – on Sweden’s misbehavior toward Israel. He notes that the Swedish state finances almost the entire $6 million budget of an extreme pro-Palestinian group in the country, Palestinagrupperna. This body has links to various terrorist organizations. In an annual report Palestinagrupperna claimed that Bildt had told them that he agrees with them on every point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.(2)

There are many friends of Israel in the four parties currently in the Swedish government – the Moderates, the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Center Party. However, the present coalition is severely trailing the opposition in the most recent polls.(3) New parliamentary elections will take place in September 2010.

The opposition consisting of the Social Democrats, Sweden’s largest party, the Green Party and the Left Party is far more hostile to Israel than the present government, with the main exception of Bildt.

During the Gaza Campaign Mona Sahlin, the leader of the Social Democrats, participated in an anti-Israel rally in Stockholm(4) at which Hizballah and Hamas flags were flown and an Israeli flag was burned.(5) Jan Eliasson, the former foreign minister,(6) and Wanja Lundby Wedin, chair of the Swedish Trade Union Confederation,(7) also took part in that event.

Many senior party members participated in such demonstrations. In Norrköping, an ex-parliamentarian and former party secretary of the Social Democrats, Lars Stjernkvist, spoke with a Hizballah flag and swastikas in the background.(8) In Malmö, the Social Democrat parliamentarian, Luciano Astudillo, spoke as someone next to him held up a picture of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah.(9)

Sahlin’s attitude toward Israel may develop in directions similar to those of Sweden’s best known prime minister, the Social Democrat Olof Palme. He was the first Western-European prime minister to label Israel as a Nazi state.

In the past few years Israel has missed the opportunity to confront the current government on many anti-Israel matters, including its indirect subsidies to anti-Israel hate bodies, mainly leftovers from the Social Democrat government.

This is especially unfortunate since the Swedish Minister of International Development Cooperation, Gunilla Carlsson, is currently revising the country’s foreign aid policies. She aims to move funding away from corrupt and dictatorial regimes to democracies and to projects that foster economic and political goals that are in line with those of Sweden. Pointing out how Palestinian organizations which receive major Swedish aid are abusing this could have had some actual influence on the country’s foreign aid policy.

If the current coalition, led by the Moderates, remains in power, one can raise these issues anew and try to solve them over a four year period. If the Social Democrats win the elections, ongoing confrontations with Sweden will be almost unavoidable. This is the more so as, for the first time, the Left and Green parties will probably join the government. There are many possibilities for Israeli retaliation against hostile Swedish acts, but it would be counterproductive to disclose them today.

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld is Chairman of the Board of Fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He has published fifteen books among which :

Behind the Humanitarian Mask, the Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews. (2008)

(1) Gil Hoffman, “Swedish FM Likens Netanyahu to Hamas,” Jerusalem Post, 10 April 2007.

(2) Ilya Meyer, “The Swedish Foreign Minister’s Crusade against Israel,” 9 December 2009.

(3) Opposition poll lead “very worrying”: Reinfeldt, The Local 14 december 2009.

(4) Per Gudmundson, “Mona Sahlin, hakkorsen och Hamasflaggorna,” Gudmundson, 15 January 2009 [Swedish]

(5) “Israelska flaggan brändes,” Dagens Nyheter, 10 January 2009. [Swedish]

(6) Per Gudmundson, “Rödflaggat,” Gudmundson, 13 January 2009, [Swedish]

(7) Per Gudmundson, “Swedish Leading Social Democrats in Rally with Hezbollah Flags,” Gudmundson, 10 January 2009, [Swedish]

(8) Erik Svansbo, “Folkbladet uppmärksammar ‘bloggkupp,’” Svansbo, 14 January 2009, [Swedish]

(9) Per Gudmundson, “Rödflaggat,” Gudmundson, 13 January 2009, [Swedish]

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer

torsdag 17 december 2009

Why Carl Bildt is driving the Israelis up the wall

September 19, 2010, that’s the target. Send the best political campaign professionals in the world into Sweden’s national elections. Make Reinfeldt and Bildt pay a price.”

That’s the suggestion of political consultant Michael Fenenbock in an op-ed in Israel’s largest daily, Yedioth Ahronoth. The reason is that the EU has once again proclaimed that Jerusalem should be the capital city of a future Palestinian state, something for which rotating EU president “Reinfeldt and his Rasputin-like partner Carl Bildt” ought to be punished.

We have the means, the experience and skill to cause these guys political pain in Sweden,” writes Fenenbock, who has previously run campaigns for Ted Kennedy and others in the US.

That’s somewhat ironic. For decades now an anti-Semitic-tainted extreme Left has been mouthing off about a “pro-Israel Lobby” that is alleged to control the world’s political destiny. When finally someone turns up who claims to represent just such a lobby, it also turns out that he intends to bring down the non-socialist government. That’s going to lead to some really hard-to-reconcile internal conflicts in many quarters.

The fact, however, is that there is a tense relationship between Sweden and Israel right now. That’s on the political plane. As regards trade and cultural exchanges, on the other hand, the atmosphere has never been better.

Carl Bildt’s rather arrogant style (he recently claimed that Israel is trying to influence the EU through a policy of “divide and rule”) underscores some Israelis’ impression that Bildt did not merely convey the demands expected during his country’s EU presidency, but rather that he has taken on the task with a dedication bordering on fervour. As though he truly burns with enthusiasm to put Israel in its place.

This past autumn’s headline-making story in which this country’s biggest daily paper spread stories about Israeli organ harvesting, stories deeply rooted in anti-Jewish mythology, without being admonished by the Swedish government, has scarcely done anything to mend bridges.

In Israel, the EU’s and Sweden’s incessant demands are perceived as highly one-sided. And not without some justification.

Last week the Israeli media presented leaked details about what was probably the previous Israeli government’s proposal to the Palestinians: then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is reported to have made an offer for a future Palestinian state on 99.3% of the pre-1967 territory. As well as the partitioning of Jerusalem. The Palestinians declined. Yet again. So who exactly is being unreasonable?

The current Israeli government emerged as a response to the previous centre coalition, which received nothing in reply to its far-reaching concessions. If today we are hearing a sharp tone of voice from Prime Minister Netanyahu and others, it is not solely a cause of the situation we see today – it is in equal measure a response to Palestinian intransigence.

That a Swedish non-socialist government would be hostile to Israel is unthinkable. So how exactly are we to interpret Carl Bildt?

It’s that same old problem: trying to extract responsibility from the only party that has ever been shown to be capable of behaving responsibly, while never demanding responsibility from the one party that really should be shouldering it. Instead of perhaps using our immense financial aid to the Palestinians to persuade them in the appropriate direction.

The question is whether it would work. From the Israeli viewpoint, it is more convenient to bicker with Sweden, and to joke about rigging our election process, than it is to pursue an uncertain centrist policy that would require some extremely hazardous concessions. That makes Carl Bildt the Likud government’s excuse to shift its focus. And that may not have been the intention.

Per Gudmundson

Translated into English by Ilya Meyer with kind permission from Per Gudmundson and Svenska Dagbladet (SvD)

The original article in Swedish can be viewed here on the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) website.
Michael Fenenbock's article in English in Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth can be viewed here.

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer

onsdag 9 december 2009

The Swedish Foreign Minister's Crusade Against Israel

Courtesy GraphJam:

165 murdered and more than 550 maimed in the space of a few hours.

That was the result of yesterday’s Islamist attacks on Muslims in Iraq and Pakistan.

In Iran, meanwhile, the nation was in virtual lockdown as the Islamist regime there clamped down on Muslims demanding democracy and the right to free speech.

silence from the rotating EU presidency, currently in the hands of Sweden. Yesterday you could read here (EU Buys Swedish Votes) a detailed account of how the Swedish Foreign Minister and his cohorts set their priorities.

some more information to add to the Carl Bildt profile: radical Swedish fringe movement Palestinagruppen is an extremist pro-Palestinian group with links to various terrorist organizations. It proudly claims in its annual report (link to the Swedish text here) that “When the new government took over we lobbied Foreign Minister Carl Bildt in a variety of ways, for instance through letters in which we asked him what actions he intended to take, and also through the media where we reminded him of the dedication he had previously shown to Palestine, recalling the demands taken on board at the Palestinagrupperna Congress in 2006. We received a detailed and exhaustive response in which he emphasised that he agrees with Palestinagrupperna on every score.”

Palestinagrupperna has a membership of about 800 people. But it has an annual budget of 40 million Swedish kronor. That’s almost 6 million US dollars. Of that, 38 million kronor (about 5.5 million USD) comes in the form of various grants from the Swedish state. That’s a lot of state funding for foreign policy lobbying through unorthodox, unethical, some might even say illicit, means.

And this parallel foreign-policy organisation – an unofficial department manned by 814 staffers on no official Foreign Policy payroll yet wielding political clout way beyond its numbers, verifies that Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt “agrees with Palestinagrupperna on every score”.

But don’t take this shady quasi-Foreign Office department’s word for it. The figures – all 40 million of them – speak loud and clear.

The Swedish state is financing the subversion of a sovereign nation, Israel. It is doing so via a variety of means, both semi-legitimate such as through Palestinagrupperna, and officially via its Foreign Minister in the EU forum and elsewhere.

At a time when the Swedish economy is staggering, flagship carmaker Saab is being dismantled at a cost of thousands jobs and Volvo is on the verge of being sold off to China, the Swedish state coffers are being plundered to fund the delegitimisation of another member-state of the UN.

Officially. With state sanction. With the blessing of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the obsessive persistence of Foreign Minister Carl Bildt and the collaboration of the State Bank, whose funds are being diverted from Swedish hospitals, schools, job-creation schemes and climate-enhancing infrastructure to fund the most intransigent and most corrupt recipients of aid the world has ever seen.

Some final statistics: The USA is the largest single contributor of funds to Palestinian Arab welfare. US contributions total in the region of 100 million dollars a year. The population of the USA is about 305 million souls. Sweden, the second largest contributor to the Palestinian Arabs, has a population of just 9 million, but donates about 40 million dollars.

The Palestinians have responded to Israel’s construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, in exactly the same way that they responded to Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

By ignoring it.

Sweden, meantime, keeps diverting much-needed finances from its own population to fund continued Palestinian Arab intransigence.

That’s how important it is to Sweden’s political elite to keep the flames of anti-Israel hatred and anti-Semitic indoctrination burning.

Long-suffering Swedes are being forced to finance their politicians’ private obsession.

Carl Bildt busies himself castigating and undermining Israel, the victim of Islamist terror, while at the same time aiding and abetting the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, regimes that enshrine terror, most recently today, he may want to pause long enough to do this pop quiz and determine just how justified he is in forcibly diverting tax kronor from his own country and giving them to regimes that cannot spell "compromise", "honesty", "history" or "ethics".

Courtesy Yaakov Kirschen, Dry Bones:

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer

tisdag 8 december 2009

EU buys Swedish votes

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is using the EU to buy votes in Sweden’s 2010 elections.

Over a hundred people are blown to bits in a series of Islamist attacks throughout Pakistan.

Over a hundred people are blown to bits in a series of Islamist attacks in Iraq.

Several dozen are blown to bits in a range of Islamist attacks in Afghanistan.

That’s just this week.

And it’s only Tuesday lunchtime.

The Palestinian Authority refuses to allow H1N1 vaccine into Gaza because it refuses to legitimise the Islamist Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

In several cities throughout Sweden, several hundred vehicles have been set alight by “disaffected” youths of what is euphemistically known as “Middle East origin” in what the youngsters themselves term their Swedish intifada. Here's what Swedish Radio, Tundra Tabloids and English-language Swedish daily The Local (here, here and here) have to say on the subject.

Sweden’s government-funded aid agency SIDA is under investigation for fraud following years of massive funding of various Palestinian, Islamist and other “charities”, including some engaged in terrorism and racist indoctrination. SIDA is currently being audited for gross overspending of its budget.

But Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is way too busy to deal with any of this. He’s busy using the 27-member EU forum to push through his pet project: in the very year that marks the 20th anniversary of the reunification of Berlin, Bildt is pushing the EU to adopt a resolution demanding the partition of Jerusalem. One part will become what he does not recognise as the capital of the Jewish state of Israel, while the other part will be forcibly converted into the recognised capital of the ethnically cleansed state of Palestine. Ethnically cleansed of Jews, that is, along the lines demanded and already achieved in Gaza. As Bildt doubtless knows, about 20 percent of the population of the Jewish state of Israel is made up of Arabs. He is perfectly happy with the glaring inconsistencies.

Carl Bildt simply does not dwell on such niceties. He has other things on his mind. Elections will be held in his country in less than a year. With his party’s popularity not so much flagging as sagging, he needs a miracle to stay in power and continue strapping on his nosebag with the weaker-minded see-no-Islamists people currently heading some of Europe’s nations.

With something like half a million Muslims living in Sweden – but fewer than 18,000 Jews – he needs to work an electoral miracle. Hence his Jerusalem obsession. It’s a guaranteed vote-clincher.

With every new sign of weakness and uncertainty, Islamism storms ahead. But don’t take my word for it, watch the following film featuring a former Islamist extremist. His message in a nutshell: Don’t back down. Maintain your humanity and do whatever you need to preserve your civilised norms as a modern society but don’t ever back down or offer concessions in the face of Islamist aggression – you’ll only pay the price later.

Dr. Hamid Tawfik, a Muslim and a former terrorist found himself unable to continue the path of violent jihadist Islamism after he realised he was being turned into the brainwashed victim of radical Islamism.

The Swedish Foreign Minister doesn’t have time to listen to such advice. He’s too busy to notice that Islamist Abdirisak Waberi has been nominated for parliament in Bildt’s own party, the Conservatives. Mr Waberi is renowned for stating, among other things, that men should be permitted to have four wives, that men should be allowed to hit their wives, that men are intrinsically superior to women, and that Islam is the only way to lead a good life. Bildt is strangely quiet on this score.

Carl Bildt doesn’t even have time to read the reports of hundreds of people slaughtered and maimed by Islamists in their wars against other Islamists. He probably won’t want to be reminded that 3 million Muslims were killed in the internecine fighting between what was then Muslim West Pakistan and Muslim East Pakistan, today Muslim Bangladesh. Another 10 million Muslims were uprooted and displaced, most seeking refuge in neighbouring India. That pattern is being repeated at the time of writing in countless Islamist hotspots throughout Muslim Africa and the Middle East. And that’s before one even mentions the violent Islamist resurgence in the Philippines.

Carl Bildt is just too busy to see any of this.

He’s busy forcing Jews to pay for his electoral victory.

And yes, it’s intended to be “his” electoral victory. Fredrik Reinfeldt may nominally be the Prime Minister of Sweden, but it is the overactive Carl Bildt who sets the agenda and does as he wants.

And what he wants bears an uncanny resemblance to what Hamas, Hizbollah and Iran want.

Who knows, perhaps he’s angling to become the first Palestinian Foreign Minister?

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer

fredag 23 oktober 2009

Like cockroaches, anti-Semitism is difficult to eradicate

Case in point: Swedish photographer Donald Boström made the embarrassing mistake of diversifying out of photography into writing.

Problem: he doesn’t know how to write.

He doesn’t know how to research his subject.

He is too subjective to be objective (he is a self-confessed pro-Palestinian radical).

In short, he is a nonentity way out of his depth.

In August, he came up with the idea of linking the death 19 years ago of a Palestinian terrorist on the West Bank, with the fact that Israel, like most other countries, has a programme for organ donation. He then proceeded to link these two unrelated issues with the arrest in the United States in summer 2009 of a man accused of money-laundering. That man was a Jew, and among his alleged shady deals was trafficking in human organs. Not from dead corpses, but from live people willing to sell their organs for money – a trade in which unscrupulous people prey on the poor and make vast amounts of money out of their body parts.

But he was a Jew! This was sufficient for Donald Boström to write an anti-Semitic article that Swedish radical left-wing tabloid Aftonbladet was only too pleased to publish. That article led to particularly strained relations between Israel and Sweden since Israel felt that both the Jewish nation and Jews worldwide were being wrongfully accused of a despicable trade. The allegations aroused added ire owing to the fact that even the Arab family concerned denied that they had ever claimed their son’s organs were harvested for transplantation. Most analysts worldwide concurred that the article was an example of woefully inadequate research employed to disguise raw anti-Semitic propaganda. It echoed the traditional anti-Semitic blood-libels that have prompted innumerable pogroms against Jews worldwide over the centuries and is now a frequently used approach by large swathes of the Swedish media.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his Foreign Minister Carl Bildt claimed at the time that he could not comment on the article because the Swedish constitution protected freedom of speech and he was therefore not at liberty to make any statement on unfounded racist accusations leveled by radical left-wing Swedes. The Swedish Chancellor of Justice, however, verified that there was nothing in the constitution to prevent the PM or FM from making a statement on the issue, so long as it was just a statement and not an attempt to prevent freedom of speech. He pointed out that all Swedes enjoy freedom of speech - even the PM and FM.

Two months later, on 21 October 2009, unfounded racist accusations (read the article here, in Swedish only) were levelled by radical right-wing Swedish party The Sweden Democrats in the very same newspaper, Aftonbladet. They accused the country’s Muslims of being a threat to the nation. Within a few hours the Swedish Prime Minister went on air to distance his nation from the racist comments.

Observers worldwide shook their heads in disbelief at the two very different responses to two sets of racist allegations made to two different sets of minority Swedes – Jews and Muslims.

Now Donald Boström has added further fuel to the fire by insisting on radical Arab news channel Al Jazeera that his original allegations about Jewish organ harvesting hold true. He said, among other things:

“I showed that the organs were plundered and that illegal organ trade is being systematically undertaken in Abu-Kabir (Israel’s forensic institute in Tel-Aviv).”

“We have evidence that links Israel to this trade.”

“What I wrote in my original article is sufficient evidence, but I am nonetheless continuing to investigate the information and there is other information that other journalists are investigating.”

“In the USA there is a branch of this operation that sells organs to rich Americans.”

“(Israeli Defence Minister) Ehud Barak is lying. He knows there is illegal trade in organs. He knows that people are being killed and that their bodies are being desecrated. He is lying time after time.”

Of course, there is little hope that the Swedish Prime Minister will step in to curb Donald Boström’s anti-Semitic libels. The Swedish PM only comments when Muslim sensitivities are at risk. There are about half a million Muslims in Sweden, and less than 20,000 Jews. The mathematics is quite straightforward, with less than a year before the next national elections in Sweden.

What is remarkable is that even as Donald Boström peddles his anti-Semitisc poison in the Muslim world, his invitation to travel next month to Israel to participate in the Dimona Conference is still being extended.

Incitement to violence is a crime. It is also a very real danger to national security.

Ehud Barak, who has the ultimate responsibility for the security of the nation, ought alreadyw to have a plan for intercepting Mr Boström at the border and turning him back, just as Israel has previously barred entry to adherents of ISM, the radical Palestinian pro-terrorist group, before they could clear passport control at Ben Gurion Airport.

Israel’s security is at risk. It is true that Ehud Barak cannot persuade a cowardly Swedish Prime Minister to abandon his double standards and stand up for principle – that is after all entirely a domestic Swedish issue.

But Ehud Barak can stop the export of Swedish fundamentalism to Israel.

We’ll never rid the world of cockroaches, but we can surely keep our own doorsteps clean.

Thanks to Ron Tennenbaum of Sweden for his help in translating Donald Boström's comments on Al Jazeera.

Andrea Levin: Anatomy of a Swedish Blood Libel

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer

tisdag 20 oktober 2009

"Tensions in Swedish Society"

"Tensions in Swedish society "

"We must increase tolerance in society." Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, October 20, 2009.

In August 2009 Swedish left-wing tabloid Aftonbladet tried to increase its popularity among radical left-wingers by publishing an article alleging that Israel engaged in the systematic killing of Palestinian Arabs in order to harvest their internal organs for transplantation purposes. The article drew tenuous links to the arrest in the USA of a man suspected of money-laundering. The article specifically emphasised that the suspect was Jewish, labelling him a rabbi.

The 2009 Swedish blood libel was born. It is this kind of intolerant hate-mongering that has given rise to pogroms against Jews over the centuries.

Sweden then deliberately retracted a statement by the country’s ambassador to Israel, Ms Elisabeth Borsiin Bonnier, in which she noted that the article had caused considerable distress to Israelis and Jews and that the Swedish people did not condone this kind of demonisation of people on the basis of ethnicity or religion.

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt repeatedly stated that the Swedish constitution and Swedish law prevented him from making any comment on the article, as this would constitute undue government interference in the press and illegal press censorship.

"I acknowledge that there are tensions in Swedish society," said Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt just a few weeks later, on October 20.

However, just like the previous quote, this too had nothing to do with the August Aftonbladet article that built on intolerance and racist stereotypes and that incited hatred of the Jews.

Instead, both quotes are from a statement Reinfeldt made a mere few weeks later, on October 20, 2009, after Swedish right-wing party the Sweden Democrats (SD) wrote an article in the same tabloid newspaper, Aftonbladet, in an attempt to increase its popularity among radical right-wingers by accusing Islam of being a threat to the nation.

Reinfeldt immediately took it upon himself to distance the Swedish nation from the controversial SD statement.

Which naturally begs the question: did Reinfeldt lie to the nation and the world in August when he said that Swedish law forbade him from commenting on an article that insulted Jews, Israelis and Judaism? He had, after all, gone on record as confirming that it was the Swedish constitution that prevented him from commenting on the article. Or is he breaking the law now by commenting very publicly on another article in the very same newspaper, with the only difference that this time it is Muslims who quite rightly feel targeted?

Is this what informs Reinfeldt’s actions? Jews – including their religion and their nation – can be insulted without comment, while followers of Islam cannot?

There can be no other explanation.

It would be ludicrous to suggest that Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt is an anti-Semite. He is not. He is a weak, unprincipled and totally ineffective leader. He is everything a leader is not supposed to be. He is a leader who silent when it does not benefit him politically. And a leader who speaks out when he is scared.

The worst imaginable combination. Because it leaves principle and leadership by the wayside.

In the days when the English language was simple because Political Correctness had not yet conquered reason and erased sound common-sense, this kind of discriminatory behaviour based on religion and ethnicity might have been labelled racism or more specifically anti-Semitism.

Today, however, there are other parameters to be taken into account.

Self-abasement, abject cowardice and a total lack of principle are foremost among them.

While the extremist views of the Sweden Democrats are to be abhorred for their imbecilic generalisations and racist appeal, it is interesting that their actions have painted the Swedish Prime Minister’s lacklustre qualities in sharp relief.

The unfortunate downside is that there will doubtless be plenty of Swedish voters who take note of Reinfeldt’s ineffectuality and draw their own conclusions as this country heads to the ballot in ten months’ time.

A leader who cannot see the discrimination in maintaining silence on insults to Jews while championing the feelings of Muslims who are insulted in the same media, is simply going to hand a resounding victory to the Sweden Democrats.

Fredrik Reinfeldt would do well to read this article and remember it when the votes are tallied in Sweden next September.

Articles in English:
Camera on Swedish Aftonbladet's bigotry
JCPA/Mikael Tossavainen on Swedish reactions to blood libel report
Andrea Levin/Wall Street Journal - Anatomy of a Swedish Blood Libel
GLORIA/Barry Rubin - Taking Stock in Stockholm
GLORIA/Barry Rubin - Blood Libel Goes Mainstream
Ilya Meyer - Freedom of the Press in Sweden
Ilya Meyer - The Carl Bildt Philosophy
Ilya Meyer - Letting the Lunatics Run the Asylum
Ilya Meyer - Silence in the Swedish Social Democratic Party
Ilya Meyer - Spicy Swedish Journalism
Ilya Meyer - Aftonbladet: an Ideology in Search of a Newspaper
Ilya Meyer - Silence is Golden
And others - click on the "English Articles" icon top right

Articles in Swedish:

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer

onsdag 2 september 2009

Why is the Swedish Social Democratic party silent?

For two weeks now the world has been focusing on Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in the wake its publication of a controversial article regarded by many as insufficiently researched and poorly executed. The spotlight is also on Swedish PM Fredrik Reinfeldt – many Swedes and foreign analysts wait with interest to see if, and if so how, he will ultimately respond to Aftonbladet’s article.

The one element that appears to have escaped the world’s attention is the position of the Swedish Social Democratic opposition party on this controversy. Aftonbladet is regarded by many as serving the Social Democratic party’s interests. With continued silence from that quarter, many Swedes are asking what exactly separates Sweden’s left-wing Social Democratic party from the right-wing Sweden Democrats on the issue of racism.

A fortnight has passed since Aftonbladet published unsubstantiated 17 year old allegations regarding systematic Israeli organ theft from Palestinian Arabs.

Aftonbladet linked these allegations – which have been refuted by the Arab family named in the article – to an unrelated story about organ trafficking in the USA. The link consisted of the fact that one of the American suspects is a Jew. This was sufficient for Aftonbladet. It published an article with devastating elements of the kind of medieval anti-Semitic blood-libel in which Jews are accused of killing innocents for religious ritual and/or financial gain.

The article was linguistically coarse, stylistically immature, journalistically limp and woefully lacking in research integrity. Any 17 year old intern fresh from high school would have been able to produce a far more professional piece if proper journalism had been the objective.

None of these observations, however, are particularly relevant two weeks after the story broke. What is relevant today is Aftonbladet’s intentions, and the Swedish Social Democratic party’s silence. Even Sweden’s rabidly anti-Israel pro-Palestinian Per Gahrton refuses to include accusations of the Aftonbladet ilk in his frequent and vicious attacks on the Jewish state because he maintains there is not sufficient evidence to back the claims. Lack of evidence, however, appears not to be an obstacle to Aftonbladet.

Several medical experts have vouchsafed that the process Aftonbladet describes could under no circumstances produce human organs suitable for transplantation – the accusations crumble on logical, logistical and medical grounds. Faced with the choice between publishing unsubstantiated anti-Semitic claims against Jews and publishing confirmed and verifiable information on systematic kidnappings, human trafficking and other crimes against humanity in the Arab and Muslim worlds, Aftonbladet chose the path of classic anti-Semitism.

The reason is simple. The first case denigrates the world’s only Jewish state, Israel, and Jews all over. The second implicates Gaza’s rulers Hamas, who for more than three years have held a young Jew, Gilad Schalit, captive after kidnapping him. Schalit has not been granted visits by the Red Cross in accordance with international legislation governing the treatment of prisoners. He has not received legal representation – not that he is accused of anything other than being a Jew, a crime in Gaza. He has not been allowed to meet or have contact with his family – a crime against his established human rights.

For Aftonbladet none of this matters. These are all facts that can be confirmed. However, they do not exactly paint Gaza’s Arab and Muslim leaders in a positive light, so Schalit’s three years of illegal incarceration is a non-event. What is an event is a 17 year old unsubstantiated claim of Jewish organ theft – denied even by the victim’s family.

Aftonbladet shields its demonisation of the Jewish state behind claims of freedom. Not freedom for Gilad Schalit but freedom of the press and freedom of expression. But the tabloid’s freedom seems limited to the slander of one single country, one single religion and people: Israel and the Jews.

Because Aftonbladet refuses to write in equally clear terms – in fact it refuses to write at all – about Arab and Muslim human trafficking in Gaza. Or about systematic torture and rape of political dissidents – both women and men – in Iranian prisons (other than to report on the Iranian authorities’ denial).

Freedom of expression is not the same as freedom to destroy or libel. Freedom of the press is not the same as telling lies on the one hand while suppressing the truth on the other – all depending on the niceties of the tabloid’s political agenda.

So what is Aftonbladet’s political agenda? Today, one year before Sweden goes to elections there is every reason to suspect that the newspaper’s attack was merely one in a string of many populist measures designed to generate votes for its mentor, the Social Democratic party. There are about 15,000 Jews in Sweden, and something like half a million Muslims. Despite the immense outrage felt by Swedish Jews over the Aftonbladet attack and countless media outrages in previous years, no buildings have been burned down, no pensioners have been beaten in the streets, no police officers have been attacked or police vehicles vandalized. It’s not the way we Swedish Jews do things. We sit back and think, we try to make people see sense through reasoned argument, we use the persuasive power of the spoken and written word. It’s all part of something that we call “democracy”. Jews here in Sweden have never understood the need to attack people, public institutions, religious edifices or officers of the law as a means of expressing our dissatisfaction. We tend to address our concerns to the people concerned.

So we are now addressing the Swedish Social Democratic party. In the wake of Aftonbladet’s actions and the party’s silence, the big question to party leader Mona Sahlin is as follows:

Can a nominally democratic Sweden really afford a Social Democratic party whose foremost standard-bearer is Aftonbladet? Those who fear the Sweden Democrats should be at least as afraid of Sweden’s Social Democrats. For the very same reason.

On the bottom line it is therefore not only the current Right-Centre coalition government that needs to mark its revulsion for the Aftonbladet article; it is at least equally important for the Social Democratic party to clearly state its opposition to the use of racism as an electioneering tool.

Unless, of course, party leader Mona Sahlin is happy for Aftonbladet to continue profiling itself this way in the name of Swedish Social Democracy.

Links on this and related topics:
Wikipedia, Honest Reporting, TNR, JTA, Washington Post, JPost, JPost2, Arutz7, The Local, Expressen (Swedish),

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upplagd av Ilya Meyer