Confronting anti-Israel views in Sweden

Unlike other anti-Israeli organizations that are grassroots movements consisting mainly of Arabs, the “Jerusalem Committee” consists of Swedish politicians.

August 29, 2015 22:12
2 minute read.

Flag of Sweden. (photo credit: REUTERS)

A new anti-Israeli organization has emerged in Sweden. But unlike other anti-Israeli organizations that are grassroots movements consisting mainly of Arabs, the “Jerusalem Committee” consists of Swedish politicians inspired by the extreme hostility toward Israel in the Arab world.

In the annual report of the Jerusalem Committee, from 2012, one can read that the initiative for the formation of the Jerusalem Committee was based on the Swedish participation in the Arab League’s International Conference on Jerusalem in Doha between February 26-28, 2012, where the participants from Sweden were major Swedish politicians like Kerstin Lundgren, foreign policy spokeswoman for the Center Party of Sweden, and Veronica Palm, a member of the Swedish parliament and one of the important names in the Social Democratic Party.

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The International Conference on Jerusalem in Doha was hostile to Israel, with the participation of extreme anti-Israeli organizations like Neturei Karta. The purpose of the conference was to condemn Jewish presence in Jerusalem. In the final declaration of the conference the “Judaization” of Jerusalem was criticized. The host of the conference was the Qatari dictator Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Being hosted by a dictator did not seem to be an issue for the Swedish politicians who were protesting against Jewish presence in Jerusalem.

This conference inspired the Swedish participants to create the Jerusalem Committee with the purpose of “raising the issues of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people’s situation during the occupation.”

At the first board meeting of the Jerusalem Committee in 2012, some of the members were MP Torbjörn Björlund and Peter Hultqvist, Sweden’s defense minister since October 2014.

One of the goals of the Jerusalem Committee has been to arrange a Nordic Jerusalem Conference in the Swedish parliament. They did this for the first time in November 2012. According to the 2012 annual report of the Jerusalem Committee this Nordic Jerusalem Conference was financed partially by the PLO . So the Jerusalem Committee, where many influential Swedish politicians are involved, does not hesitate to take financial support from the PLO , which obviously undermines their credibility.

Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish State of Israel. That leading politicians in Sweden are part of an organization that gets financial support from the PLO and questions whether Jerusalem is Jewish at all undermines the neutrality of Sweden in the Israel-Palestine issue.

One of the politicians on the board of the Jerusalem Committee today is Marie Granlund, member of parliament and group leader for the Social Democrats in the Swedish parliaments’ Committee on European Union Affairs. The Jerusalem Committee continues to be a hub where major Swedish politicians who support an extreme anti-Israeli agenda can gather. What is more worrying is that the Facebook page of the Jerusalem Committee spreads links to sites with anti-Semitic content like Iranian Press TV and Swedish Fria Tider.

It is important to understand that behind the Swedish criticism of Israel there is a well financed anti-Israeli machinery associated with influential politicians who do not entirely distance themselves from anti-Semitic sites. With other words, the Swedish criticism of Israel is biased and lacks credibility. No matter what Israel does it will be hard to win the support of the Swedish government because many Swedish politicians associated with the current government are members of or connected to organizations like the Jerusalem Committee, that has a clear anti-Israeli agenda.

The author is vice chairman for the Swedish NGO Perspectives on Israel.

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