Prominent European rabbi demands meeting with Swedish PM over antisemitism

Conference of European Rabbis calls out Sweden for neglecting its Jewish citizens.

December 20, 2017 16:45
2 minute read.
 Police seen at the site of an attack near a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden December 9, 2017

Police seen at the site of an attack near a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden December 9, 2017. (photo credit: TT NEWS AGENCY/ADAM IHSE/VIA REUTERS)

On the heels of two recent attacks on Jewish sites in Sweden, a prominent European rabbi has requested a meeting with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to discuss the protection of the country’s Jewish community.

The Conference of European Rabbis announced Wednesday that its president, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, had penned a letter to the prime minister at the end of last week, in which he accused the government of neglecting its duties to its Jewish citizens.

Specifically referring to the recent fire bombings of a synagogue in Göteborg and of a Jewish building in Malmo, Goldschmidt said: “As far as we are aware, Sweden is the only country in Europe that has a combination of rising number of high-profile antisemitic, as well as public anti-Israel, displays that result in violent attacks against the Jewish community.”

He also mentioned the country’s failure to respect Jewish religious practice due to its law that made kosher slaughter illegal.

Also citing reports of numerous other antisemitic incidents and that many of Sweden’s 18,000 Jews live in fear of antisemitic attacks, Goldschmidt accused the government of not properly responding.

“It’s a constant battle to live a normal life, and not to give in to the threats, but still be able to feel safe,” a spokesman for the Gotenborg synagogue was quoted as saying last week.

“Most alarmingly, the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles issued a travel warning in 2010 advising ‘extreme caution when visiting southern Sweden’ because of officials’ failure to act against the ‘serial harassment’ of Jews in Malmo,” Goldschmidt’s letter continued. “What other country in the EU would stand by and allow the harassment of its citizens to such an extent as to have a travel warning issued?” Goldschmidt charged that the government’s “fear of being accused of intolerance against Muslims” has paralyzed it from properly addressing prejudice against Jews, resulting in a rise in antisemitic attacks.

The rabbi also noted that previous appeals by the Conference of European Rabbis to the government had been ignored.

“It is time to stop speaking about antisemitism and start doing something about it.

These matters are a cause of great distress for me and the Jewish community across Europe. I would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these matters and the best approach to resolve them,” the letter concluded.

The organization had not yet received a response.

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