Time for Israel to close its embassy in Sweden, former deputy FM says

Danny Ayalon contributed an analysis to 'The Jerusalem Post' Hebrew-language sister publication 'Ma'ariv'.

By DANNY AYALON
January 15, 2016 19:42
3 minute read.
Flags of Israel and Sweden

Flags of Israel and Sweden. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The deceitful and contemptible remarks by Sweden’s foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, were not made by her own volition. She received – and still receives – backing from the Swedish prime minister, and her words represent the thoughts and opinions of the people of Sweden.

Wallstrom is turning the victims into perpetrators. Instead of talking about the Palestinians who are committing stabbing attacks, she blames their victims. Her latest comment regarding Israel’s supposed excessive use of force is also a lie.

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She singles Israel out while refusing to talk about the bloodletting in Afghanistan, Paris, and other places. She mentions nothing about terrorists who were killed by the security forces in those areas. Wallstrom is undermining the unity of the Western world, which is defending itself from threats. This is something that she should’ve understood.

Wallstrom’s specialty is exercising political and populist skills, and this is her intent here as well. Sweden’s demographics are changing. Malmo has become almost entirely a Muslim city. The foreign minister knows that the Muslim community in Sweden is a source of support for her.

She is also operating from a place of limited thinking and philosophical obtuseness. That is the only explanation for her comments differentiating between Palestinian terrorism and that of Islamic State. The Palestinians, she said, are resisting occupation and settlements.

Israel has become the world’ bad boy. On the one hand, we are on the front lines against terrorism while helping countries like Sweden and other European governments with intelligence. On the other hand, it is easy to point to Israel as the world’s problem child in order to curry favor with Muslims. It is as if the Westerners are saying, “See, we are not against you. Look at what we are doing to Israel.”

Perhaps, just maybe, there’s a hint of anti-Semitism at play here. When Jews are being killed, it apparently doesn’t hurt as much as when Europeans are targeted. The time has come to stop being afraid in bringing these issues to the fore.



The Swedish effort to ingratiate themselves with the Muslim world at Israel’s expense will come back to haunt them. They think that if they attack Israel, they will be spared by terrorism. They are wrong.

Israel’s condemnation of Wallstrom’s remarks is insufficient. The government needs to close its embassy in Stockholm and let the chips fall where they may. Let Israel’s ambassador to Sweden work from Jerusalem. Now, there’s a good reason to do this.

Such a move will shock the Swedes since they are very active in foreign policy. They are particularly known for their insistence on remaining neutral, which was supposedly the case during World War Two. Sweden loves to brag about its ability to get along with virtually everyone.

It’s important for me to clarify that I’m not advocating for a total rupture in relations. I am simply proposing that Israel recall its envoy. This will save Israel money, which is consistent with the Foreign Ministry’s plans to cut expenses. Instead of shutting down diplomatic missions in the United States, let’s close up shop in Sweden. It’s a marginal country, and we are not dependent on it.

The Israeli embassy in Sweden has become a magnet for demonstrations and protests. That is why it’s preferable if relations between the two countries would be conducted without the presence of our ambassador in Stockholm. Israel benefits twofold – not only does it save money, but it also sends a message of deterrence. Perhaps those who like to berate us will get the message.

The writer is a former deputy foreign minister.

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