MY new neighbor, Dan, is a semi-retired orthodontist, working two days a week in a private clinic. His wife, Karla, was his nurse until her career was cut short by rheumatoid arthritis.
Though still Swedish passport-holders both describe themselves curiously as ‘former Swedes’ and their dearest wish is for their 30-year-old school-teacher daughter to leave Stockholm and join their doctor son in Canada.
And, if not the Maple Leaf nation, then Israel, the USA, Britain or Australia.
Now in their 60s, Dan and Karla – not their real names – came to Mallorca, partly to eke out their silver years in the balmy climes of a laid-back Club Med state, but, effectively, as they say, ‘asylum-seekers.’
‘All my life I’d been grateful to be part of a civilized society,’ explains Dan, whose parents were among almost the entire population of 8,000 Danish Jews, who were secretly ferried from Nazi-occupied Denmark in 1943 to sanctuary in neutral Sweden.
‘And, until about 2005, I felt blessed to live in a true social democracy, where people willingly paid high taxes for a fine welfare system and liberal values.’
So what prompted – or rather drove – the amiable Dan and his gentle wife, creator of the world’s most lip-smacking gravidlax, to sell their Malmö shoreline home, rip up their roots and migrate to Spain?
‘Sure, the sunshine and lifestyle played some part in our decision,’ he explains. ‘But the real reason was Sweden’s changing demographics and politics. The radical, Left-wing establishment became totally obsessed with multiculturalism and political correctness, which we didn’t need reminding had been part of Swedish ethos for centuries.
‘But this was different. It was verging on authoritarian diktat and the open-door immigration policy was threatening the nation’s cohesion. Only a fool couldn’t see this, but there was a conspiracy of silence, or rather a policy to whitewash the adverse effects of accepting half-a-million immigrants from the Middle East, who plainly weren’t interesting in adopting Sweden’s values and Swedish culture.
‘The politicians, the media, the intellectuals…they all played their parts in pandering to this dangerous ideology and, sadly, it’s changing the fabric of Swedish society irreversibly.’
Karla, who’d sat passively, occasionally nodding in agreement at Dan’s analysis, then interrupted, saying, ‘If you disagree with the establishment, you’re immediately called a racist or fascist, which we’re definitely not. At times I felt that this was what it must have been like to live in the old Soviet Union.’
Many Swedes wholeheartedly concur with the sentiment that Sweden’s long, noble record of liberalism has become perverted and are appalled at their extreme-socialist government’s incompetent, doe-eyed handling of the immigration issue.
‘It’s like a laboratory experiment gone horribly wrong,’ one told me. ‘But the scientists won’t admit they’ve made a monstrous mistake. So Sweden isn’t Sweden as we knew it – it’s become Swedenistan.’
For any in doubt, former Swedish Prime Minister, Frederik Reinfeldt, infamously stated in 2014 that Sweden now belongs to immigrants, not to the Swedes who have lived there for generations.
And the evidence stacking up in favor of kowtowing to incomers – a ‘lemming complex’, as Dan termed it – is growing increasingly stark and eccentric.
Displaying symbols, like the national flag, are frowned upon; Haribo, the candy-maker, was accused of ‘racism’, because its Skipper Mix included African masks; and children’s author, Jan Lööf, was pressured to self-censor his best-seller, Grandpa Is A Pirate, which featured characters like the wicked buccaneer, Omar, and street peddler, Abdullah.
All this coincided with the nation that gave the world flat-pack furniture and smorgasbord welcoming 500,000 incomers, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, the overwhelming majority Muslim, though the government releases no official figures about migrants’ religious affiliations.
In this land of mystical forests and tranquil islands, whose population of around nine million remained relatively unchanged until contemporary times, such an influx was bound to have consequences, especially given where the huge wave of immigrants originated.
So, the impact on Sweden’s Jewry has been predictably disturbing.
Malmö, Dan and Karla’s former home and Sweden’s third largest city, has seen a dramatic surge in anti-Semitic violence over the last decade, in tandem with the exponential rise of its Islamic community, now numbering at about 75,000.
In 2009, its Jewish center was set ablaze and, since then, Jewish cemeteries have been repeatedly desecrated, worshippers abused on their way home from prayer, and Jews in the streets targeted with anti-Semitic insults by men of ‘dark and foreign’ appearance.
The case for historic toleration wasn’t helped by the city’s then mayor, far-Leftist, pro-Palestinian Ilmar Reepalu, who was accused by Malmö’s Jewish leadership of deliberately stoking animosity by claiming what Jews perceived as naked anti-Semitism was ‘just a sad, but understandable consequence of Israeli policy.’
(But – naturally – Reepalu is quick to add, ‘Of course, I’m not an anti-Semite.’)
Then, earlier this year, Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wällstrom, caused a diplomatic storm by alleging Israeli forces carried out extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.
Unsurprisingly, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, slapped her down, calling Wallström’s comments ‘a mix of blindness and political stupidity.’
Meanwhile, as the pattern of unrest is being replicated throughout Europe, the ancient prejudices of the Middle East have spread their tentacles further and deeper into Sweden, where the dwindling, 20,000-strong Jewish community has been strongly advised against wearing any outward signs of their faith in public.
Like Dan and Karla did, many Swedish Jews are now contemplating futures away from a country that long boasted toleration as its totem. But no longer.
As Dr. Richard Prasquier, former president of France's national Jewish association, noted, ‘Jews are a litmus test of what’s going on in a country. It’s not only Jews who will leave. And it’s not only the country which will go down the drain; it’s not only Europe, it’s the entire Western world.’
For Sweden, then, the sands of time are running down.
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