Sweden urged to boost security for Jewish citizens amid antisemitism concerns

Umea Jewish community center closes following threats, vandalism.

April 4, 2017 14:16
2 minute read.

Area quarantined due to bomb thrown at synagogue in Malmo , Sweden in 2011(REUTERS)

Area quarantined due to bomb thrown at synagogue in Malmo , Sweden in 2011(REUTERS)


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Jewish groups dedicated to fighting antisemitism called on the Swedish authorities on Tuesday to step up security for the country’s Jewish citizens, after threats against a community center in Umeå forced it to close.

Members of the Judisk föreningen (Jewish Association) in eastern Sweden reportedly decided Sunday to close their doors in light of a series of antisemitic incidents and threats to members of the community.

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According to Swedish media, the community center was vandalized with swastikas and the message, “We know where you live,” in addition to being targeted by threatening emails. The windows of an association member’s car were also smashed.

“Too many things have happened lately, which mean that Jewish parents don’t feel safe having their kids at the schools,” the Jewish association’s spokesperson Carinne Sjöberg told Swedish national public TV broadcaster SVT.

“Our children shouldn’t need to live in a world where they have to be ashamed for what they are, but it’s not possible to operate if people are scared.”

Sjöberg told the BBC that neo-Nazi group Nordfront was responsible, having initially targeted her alone, before turning on additional members of the community.

“This situation simply cannot be acceptable in today’s Sweden,” said Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt. “This incident should be a catalyst to ensure that every Jewish community in Sweden both is secure and has a sense of security to live openly and freely as Jews.”

In a letter to Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, the ADL raised concerns that many Jewish institutions across Sweden have insufficient security measures, and urged the government to do more to ensure that these institutions are adequately protected nationwide.

The ADL recently discussed communal security issues with the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities.

“While Umeå’s Jewish community may be small in number, we respectfully urge you to consider the magnitude of this event,” Greenblatt wrote.

There are an estimated 20,000 Jews in the Scandinavian country, according to the Council of Swedish Jewish Communities.

About a third of that population is said to be affiliated with a Jewish community.

“A Jewish community center closed due to antisemitic threats, fear in the community and a lack of confidence that the authorities will protect them. Such a situation cannot be acceptable in Sweden today.

This local crime and its consequence should be a national issue, as it speaks to the heart of Sweden’s democratic values,” Greenblatt added.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center released a strongly worded statement denouncing the Swedish authorities.

“This is but the latest shameful episode when Swedish authorities fail to provide for the basic safety of its Jewish citizens,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“This time, it is neo-Nazis operating with impunity in northern Sweden, threatening Jews.”

Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.

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