Sweden''s hostility towards Israel once again raised its ugly head when Carl Bildt, the current Foreign Minister, slammed
Netanyahu''s rejection of Obama''s demand that Israel should withdraw to pre-1967 borders, as indefensible and went on to state that “the only defense that is possible is peace."
Bildt''s antipathy for Israel is nothing new. In 2009 he cancelled a trip to Israel
due to a newspaper article in which the Israel Defense Forces was accused of organ harvesting. Bildt never condemned the libelous and anti-Semitic story.
Bildt''s views seem to be the default position held by most Swedish politicians. Regardless of one''s political affiliation, the majority of Swedes have always had a difficult time dealing with Israel. In Sweden, like in other welfare states in northern Europe, with the exception of Finland, the right and the left are in agreement on one thing: Israel constitutes a problem.
The anti-Israel sentiment transcends political affiliations on both national and local levels. During the Rosengård riots, Malmö''s infamous mayor, Ilmar Reepalu expressed his sympathy for the anti-Israel rioters and blamed Israel for the violence. Commenting on the violence against the Jewish residents of Malmö, Reepalu stated
that “I wish that the Jewish community [in Malmö] distanced itself from Israel''s violence against the civil population in Gaza.”
Clearly according to Reepalu, anti-Semitism in Malmö is a regrettable, but an understandable phenomenon. His argument that Israel''s actions contribute to violent anti-Semitism absolves Jew-hating mobs and tacitly justifies anti-Jewish anti-Israel violence.
Sweden''s - arguably irresponsible - immigration policies have forced many in Malmö''s Jewish community to flee the city. The current situation in one of the largest Swedish cities is a shocking manifestation of modern anti-Semitism.
Malmö is also one of the few places where Israeli athletes have been directly threatened with violence. In 2009 hundreds of rock-throwing demonstrators tried to storm a tennis match be
tween Sweden and Israel. Had it not been for the heavy police presence, the result could have been something akin to Munich Olympics where 11 Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.
The upcoming handball match
between Israel and Sweden i
n the southern city of Karlskrona will also likely be threatened by violent protesters.
In 2009, the city of Malmö registered 79 anti-Semitic crimes. I
n comparison to 2008, the number of anti-Semitic crimes increased by 100 per cent. There are only 700 Jews in Malmö while close to 30 per cent of the city''s 280,000 inhabitants are immigrants.
It is hardly a coincidence that anti-Semitism has been growing as if the influx of immigrants has increased. Immigration is an integral part of the Nordic welfare model, but, as events show in Malmö, reckless immigration can be hazardous.
In 2009, a local Malmö politician Adly Abu Hajar declared
that Sweden is the best Islamic state. Abu Hajari’s declaration indicates that in developing an open society the Swedes have forgotten that democracy can only function if citizens subscribe to democratic values.
The case of Sweden seems to reflect the paradox that exists within its society: as Reepalu’s comments suggest, unadulterated encouragement of group identities without specifying what Swedish idea of freedom consists of has led to a situation where passing a value judgment has become impossible. Sweden''s free society is becoming a mockery of its original idea. Neighborhoods where Jews can''t wear kippahs have become lawless entities where freedoms are exploited by illiberal forces.
Open borders coupled with overly accommodating authorities can be dangerous. Swedish democracy has been a success story because its - until recently - homogeneous population has been willing to uphold liberal democratic values.
However, what will happen when the fast growing immigrant population does not want to preserve the Swedish welfare state and its inclusive character? It will likely lead to a power vacuum which will be filled by the angry, determined and powerful new generation of mostly Muslim immigrants.
No one can predict the future, but if Sweden''s willingness to condone vile anti-Semitism, both at home and abroad, is any indication, the country will quickly transform from a Nordic utopia to a microcosm of a clash of cultures.
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