Sweden Democrats reject anti-Semitism

When asked whether one can be simultaneously Jewish and Swedish, I replied that I believe most people of Jewish origin that have become Swedes may have partly abandoned their Jewish identity.

January 5, 2015 21:42
3 minute read.
The leader of the Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson hands over his ballot to parliament speaker.

The leader of the Sweden Democrats Jimmie Akesson hands over his ballot to parliament speaker Per Westerberg during voting for the second deputy speaker in the Swedish parliament, in Stockholm in September.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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There has been recent controversy over accusations that a “Swedish politician calls for Jews to abandon their faith,” which was the headline of an article in The Jerusalem Post on December 18. It is part of a wider series of claims made against my party by journalists and political opponents.

In a biased article in one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, Dagens Nyheter (DN: Daily News), some of my statements were dramatically taken out of context to erroneously credit me with opinions that do not correspond with reality. Politically biased journalists and political opponents have further distorted the statements, resulting in a presentation virtually the complete opposite of my actual statements and opinions. This is now distributed in the international press, such as in the Post, which therefore necessitates a clarification on my part.

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I represent the Sweden Democrats, a social conservative party on a nationalistic/patriotic foundation which views value conservatism and the maintenance of a solidarity-based welfare model as the most important tools in building a well-functioning society. We are also Sweden’s most ardent pro-Israel party, strongly opposed to Sweden’s recognition of a Palestinian state as well as any aid to the Palestinian Authority, as we do not wish to be associated with financially aiding terrorism in any way.

Along with a Jewish colleague, on a trip to Israel in the spring of 2012 I visited among other places Samaria and the Golan Heights to obtain an understanding about the situation for the Jewish people in Israel. I also visited the Knesset and met several Israeli politicians. Those who know me are well familiar with my strong commitment to the State of Israel and the Jewish people. To then be accused of the direct opposite is outright insulting.

The Sweden Democrats advocate a policy of assimilation, which means that immigrants coming to Sweden should be expected to adapt to Swedish society. In my conversation with the DN journalist I discussed the fact that Sweden currently recognizes five national minorities, which are exempt from these requirements.

These minorities are Sami, Roma, Sweden Finns, Tornedalers and Jews.

Common to these minority groups is that they have lived in Sweden for a prolonged period of time and represent groups with a pronounced affinity. They even have a religious, linguistic or cultural background and a desire to preserve this identity of theirs. They thus constitute their own nations within the Swedish state.

We distinguish between nationhood and citizenship. For this I have been criticized, but I am certain that you in Israel make this same distinction.

Of course not all Israeli citizens are Jewish, and the same certainly applies in Sweden.

Naturally there are some people from these minority nations who have, partly or fully, joined the Swedish nation by adopting a Swedish identity. I have relatives who have Sami and Jewish backgrounds but who would not consider themselves as anything other than Swedes.

When asked whether one can be simultaneously Jewish and Swedish, I did not respond “no,” though this is exactly how it was portrayed in the Swedish press. I replied that I believe most people of Jewish origin that have become Swedes (as in becoming a part of the Swedish nation) may have partly abandoned their Jewish identity in some cases. I emphasized, however, that whether they do or not, it does not pose a problem since they have lived in Sweden for so long and that they are in fact part of a recognized minority. This enables them to continue living here in Sweden with their Jewish nationhood and Swedish citizenship. The same applies to the other recognized minority groups.

Some Jews in Sweden are Jewish strictly in a religious sense while others are also Jewish in a national and cultural sense.

I have defended our recognized minority groups, including the Jews, as having the right to maintain this unique societal position, as compared to other minority groups in the country. To this end I have now been attributed various political viewpoints that are foreign to me.

The author is secretary-general for the Sweden Democrats and second deputy speaker of the Swedish Parliament.

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