Police is 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)
As this is being written, a group of Jewish teenagers are hiding in the basement of the Great Synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden. They were supposed to have a party tonight, but instead they hide in fear, after their place of worship was firebomb by as of yet unidentified perpetrators.
The media is already reporting this as a probable protest against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and thus they are excusing the act. They do that all the time in these parts. They watch as the Jewish minority is persecuted and then they find a reason, political or historical, to make the battered Jew an accessory to the crime against him.
Two days in a row, hordes of pro-Palestinian protesters have gathered in Malmo, a city infamous for its rampant antisemitism, shouting, “We are starting an intifada and we will shoot all the Jews.” I know this because it was caught on video and reported by state media. Except the state media referred to the events as, and I quote, “aggressive atmosphere at rallies,” rather than calling to what it was – death threats and hate crimes, witnessed by silent bystanders and passive police.
These crimes are being committed now, all across Europe, in the wake of yet another few days of rage, proclaimed a few days ago, which follow decades of terrorism and murder. They are in no way singular events to be taken out of context. Trump’s declaration – his statement of the obvious – is just the latest in hundreds of years of excuses for some to hunt us down and for others to look the other way.
Some of you reading this will say it is hyperbolic, that I am drawing to dramatic a conclusion from a single arson attack. To that I say: they are trying to burn synagogues in Europe. Now repeat that to yourself please, once or twice or three times if you have to.
They are trying to burn down synagogues with kids inside, in Europe, in 2017. They are shouting, openly, that they will kill Jews, and people are standing idly by. Does this remind you of anything? Does this violence, this unabashed hatred, ring any bells whatsoever? Tonight, as I watch the news and see the images of armored cars and fire trucks outside the Gothenburg synagogue, my anger is directed at the Swedish government. Because, and let me perfectly clear on this, I blame it for what happened and for whatever will come next.
For years this government has waged war, through the media and one-sided diplomacy, against Israel and used antisemitic tropes when doing so, allowing the idea of collective Jewish guilt to become a national norm. Sure, the ministers and dignitaries show up and look solemn at International Holocaust Memorial Day, paying tribute to all the dead Jews – but when it comes to protecting and defending us, the living, breathing Jews of this country, they have done nothing.
So I want to ask you, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom and Prime Minister Stefan Lofven: why will you not protect us? Why do you actively choose to align yourself with and defend those who want us dead? Why are we not worth protecting?
A few months ago, a few hundred neo-Nazis marched through Gothenburg, or at least they planned to. They were surrounded by police and stopped, and their protest was limited to a shopping mall parking lot. Despite the lackluster results of their pathetic gathering, the country rose up in protest. Op-eds were written, hashtags were tweeted, government hearings were held and, just a few days later, thousands gathered in the middle of Stockholm to denounce the Nazis and what they represent.
Tonight, while Jewish teenagers huddle in fear in a synagogue basement, I try to imagine that the same would be done for us now, in wake of yet another slew of attacks, but I can’t even picture it, as hard as I try. I know in my heart that no one will gather for us as we now are being attacked and persecuted, that no one will launch a “tweet storm” of support and that no national outcry will be raised.
If we are mentioned it is as an appendix to the support of another, we’re the tag-along group that has to be included but is never the reason for outcry or support. No one gathers just for us, because deep inside they think we sort of have it coming.
I know that I am cynical and I know that these are angry words, but I am not sorry and will not atone. They tried to burn down a synagogue in Gothenburg tonight. They want to murder Jews in Europe, yet again.
I am angry, I am heartsick, and you should be too.The author is a journalist and political adviser who resides in Stockholm, Sweden. Follow her @truthandfiction.