Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid took on Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom’s criticism of Israel, accusing her of anti-Semitism in a speech to a pro-Israel rally in Stockholm on Sunday.
“If the Swedish foreign minister is concerned about human rights in the Middle East, she needs to talk about the Palestinians’ use of children as terrorists and human shields,” Lapid said. “She needs to talk about the discrimination against the gay community [by the Palestinians], about the Der Strumer- like incitement spread by the Palestinian Authority, about the abuse of women in Gaza.”
“Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” he said. “Israel is committed to human rights, to gay rights, to international law. Israeli Arab citizens have representatives in parliament, sit in the supreme court, serve in the military and hold key roles in our economy and wider society.”
“If your attack on Jews is detached from facts and based only on bias, there is a name for it: anti-Semitism,” Lapid said.
Earlier this year, Wallstrom sparked outrage in Israel by calling for an investigation to determine whether Israel is guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the recent wave of terrorism. She made no such call following terrorist attacks in Europe in recent months in which local police killed the terrorists.
Wallstrom also lamented the “disproportionate” number of deaths on the Palestinian side relative to Israelis.
Lapid said the Swedish government, especially Wallstrom, “is on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality.”
He cited Raoul Wallenberg, after whom the square in which the rally took place was named, as an example of “moral courage” in Sweden, saying the pro-Israel activists at the event were his legacy. Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who saved tens of thousands of Jews in the Holocaust, including Lapid’s father.
“Wallenberg saved my father because he chose to be a moral man... He made a choice between choosing justice and what the world around him said – what his own government said. And that is the choice you are making,” Lapid said, thanking the demonstrators for their support of Israel.
Anti-Semitism, he said, is the reason the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has support in Europe, “even though they are operated by Hamas, a fundamentalist Islamic terror group that supports the same terror hitting the heart of Europe today.”
“The BDS movement doesn’t want a Palestinian state alongside Israel,” Lapid said. “They want one instead of Israel, or better yet on the ashes of Israel. That isn’t going to happen.”
Lapid said the Palestinians repeatedly turned down offers from Israel for more than 90 percent of the West Bank on which they could establish a Palestinian state.
“It’s not war that scares the Palestinians, it’s peace,” he said. “They need to take responsibility for their own fate. They need to recognize that we Israelis refuse to leave and refuse to die.”
Lapid was the first-ever MK to participate in the Swedish Zionist Federation’s annual demonstration in Stockholm, now in its fifth year.
Among the other speakers were local opposition politicians Ebba Busch Thor, leader of the Christian Democratic Party; and Birgitta Holsson, former minister for the EU and Democracy and foreign policy spokeswoman for the Liberal Party; Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman; and Israeli Jewish Congress executive director Arsen Ostrovsky.
Saskia Pantell, executive director of the Swedish Zionist Federation, opened the event by highlighting its theme, “Take Back Zionism.”
“Too long have we seen anti-Zionism be an excuse for going after Jews,” she said. “One should be able to freely, openly be able to be Jewish and Zionist in a democratic country like Sweden today. If you cannot, there is a huge problem.”
Pointing to anti-Israel demonstrators gathered behind the pro-Israel rally, Pantell said: “The difference between us and them is that we are here with love. I see signs that say ‘I love Israel,’ with hearts and Magen David... The people in the back made their choice of hatred, not love.”