Swedish Jews slam mayor as anti-Semitic
Mayor of Malmö said the Swedish Democratic party has infiltrated the town’s Jewish community to spread hate of Muslims.
THE MAIN synagogue in Malmö, Sweden. Photo: wikimedia.org
BERLIN – Ilmar Reepalu, the Swedish social democratic mayor of Malmö, said on
Thursday in an NEO magazine interview that the Swedish Democratic party has
infiltrated the town’s Jewish community to spread hate of
Reepalu’s comments triggered outrage from Sweden’s central
council of Jews last week.
Lena Posner Körösi, the chairwoman of the
central Jewish council in Sweden and the Jewish community in Stockholm, termed
Reepalu an “anti-Semite” in the Swedish Christian daily Världen idag because of
his hate directed at Jews.
Reepalu said in the NEO interview that there
are “strong ties” between Malmö’s Jews and the Sweden Democrats, an
anti-immigration party. The mayor noted that the party had “infiltrated” the
The Jewish community sent a letter of protest to the
social democratic party leader Stefan Löfven, noting that the community “has
long had to endure hatred and threats just because we are Jews...
Reepalu has now crossed all boundaries... This type of conspiracy theories, we
know all too well from history.” The letter continues that “Ilmar Reepalu no
longer has any credibility for us Jews in Sweden.”
According to the
letter, many Jewish members of congregations who are active with the social
democrats “are no longer fully able to support a party that has a representative
whose rhetoric is clearly anti-Semitic.”
Speaking from Tel Aviv on
Saturday, Sara Radomski, who is from Malmö and moved to Israel seven years ago,
told The Jerusalem Post on the phone that the mayor’s remarks are not
“This has been going on for years and it does not come as a
surprise even though it still is a disappointment,” said Radomski, the
co-manager of the website Sweden Israel and the Jews, which monitors anti-Israel
hate and anti-Semitism in Sweden.
Radomski added that “the little trust
the Jewish community had in Reepalu is now most likely shattered. The latest
statement by the mayor is just one in a row and further part of an unacceptable
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal
Center, told the Post on Friday that the mayor’s statements “are beneath
contempt and only further increase the sense of isolation and abandonment of the
Jewish community. Just who exactly is this bully pandering to with such
posturing?” “Isn’t there enough mistrust and lack of understanding than to
inject such a canard?” the rabbi continued. “How does he expect the Jews of
Malmo to feel this Passover after the murders in Toulouse of a rabbi and his
small children. One can only hope that members of his own party will denounce
his disgraceful and dangerous rhetoric.”
In 2010, a group of Swedish
Muslims in Malmö, a city of 290,000 now constituted approximately 20 percent by
Muslim immigrants, shouted “Sieg Heil” and “Hitler, Hitler” and threw rocks and
bottles at a small group of Jews who were peacefully demonstrating in support of
Israel. Reepalu said at the time that Sweden’s Jews were largely culpable for
the violence inflicted on them because they didn’t “distance” themselves from
Israel and the IDF operation during the Gaza war.
“The community chose to
hold a pro-Israel demonstration,” he added.