Swedish meatballs, moose and the Middle East

Not every country is blessed to have Norway and Finland as neighbors, or to live without threat or fear of annihilation.

By
November 3, 2014 22:19
4 minute read.
Sweden

Flag of Sweden. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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In an act of inexplicable folly, the Swedish government decided last week to formally recognize a state that does not exist, has no finite borders and which fails to meet even the minimal criteria for statehood under international law.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom announced that, “Today, the government takes the decision to recognize the state of Palestine. It is an important step that confirms the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.”

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While three other European Union (EU) countries – Hungary, Slovakia and Poland – already recognize a Palestinian state, they took this step prior to becoming members.

Thus, Sweden now holds the ignominious distinction of being the first EU nation to confer recognition on the “state of Palestine.”

What makes this step even more mystifying is the haste with which it was taken. Newly-elected Prime Minister Stefan Lofven took office barely a month ago, and already in his swearing-in speech he stated that Sweden would soon recognize a Palestinian state, much to the chagrin of Israel and the United States.

And just what, you might be wondering, is the reasoning behind the Swedes’ decision? When declaring the move last week, Wallstrom called it “a contribution to a better future” for the Middle East and asserted that, “Some will state this decision comes too soon. I am afraid, rather, that it is too late.”

This is absolute hogwash, and Wallstrom’s logic is just as rancid as a leftover Swedish meatball.

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Granting recognition to “Palestine” is a gift to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, one that he most certainly does not deserve.

Abbas, who forged a unity government with the Hamas terrorist organization, has been openly stirring up unrest in Jerusalem, inciting Palestinians to riot over the issue of the Temple Mount.

Rewarding him with recognition is nothing less than rewarding terror and intransigence.

Indeed, Sweden’s move will only encourage the Palestinians to harden their positions rather than soften them.

After all, why should the Palestinians bother to negotiate if nations such as Sweden prejudge the outcome of any talks and turn up the pressure on Israel? Rather than fostering a negotiated settlement, Sweden’s recklessness actually promotes further Palestinian stonewalling and obstructionism.

In addition, it completely ignores Israel’s security and strategic concerns, and allows the Palestinians to continue to avoid recognizing Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, a core demand with widespread support across the Israeli political spectrum.

But what really makes the Swedish gesture so compellingly incongruous is the simple fact that the Palestinian Authority (PA) does not meet the demands of international law for statehood.

The PA does not have sovereign control over Judea and Samaria, the disposition of its borders has not been defined, and even its control over Gaza is dubious given the tensions between Fatah and Hamas.

Under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, the 1994 Cairo Agreement and subsequent deals, whatever powers the PA does have are considered to be temporary and limited, with Israel retaining overriding residual authority.

Currently, the Palestinians are not responsible for external security nor do they control their own airspace.

Hence, Mahmoud Abbas is more akin to the mayor of Ramallah than to a head of state.

For Sweden to suggest otherwise is to make a mockery of the very same international law that it so ardently claims to respect and uphold.

Consider the following. Just about every aggrieved ethnic group on the planet can now point to Sweden’s recognition of “Palestine” and demand the same treatment from Stockholm and others.

If the Palestinians can obtain formal recognition of statehood even though they do not meet the benchmarks required by international law, then why shouldn’t the Kurds, the Corsicans, the Basques and others, too? Should other EU countries follow Sweden’s example, they will be opening not only a Pandora’s box, but a tinderbox, one that could destabilize various parts of the world and rekindle ethnic and nationalist tensions.

So just why would Stockholm act so irresponsibly and recognize a state of Palestine? Undoubtedly, Sweden’s move was prompted by at least some domestic political considerations, as the new minority-led left-wing government seeks to win favor with more radical elements on the Swedish Left, while also courting the country’s growing Muslim immigrant population. Additionally, Sweden’s ruling Social Democratic party has in the past sought to paint itself as committed to causes such as human rights and world peace.

But there is perhaps a more colorful explanation worth considering.

As any visitor to Sweden can tell you, the Nordic country is a land of forests. Over half of its area consists of picturesque woodlands, which are home to hundreds of thousands of moose, a highly popular animal in Sweden that has come to symbolize nature for many Swedes.

Like any wild animal, moose are entirely unpredictable.

But they are also known for not seeing things well or clearly at close range because their eyes are set on the sides of their heads, creating a large blind spot right in front of them.

Having spent so much time focusing on moose, perhaps the Swedes have adopted their mindset, in the process forgetting just how dangerous and treacherous the rest of the world can be, or how precarious Israel’s position is.

Not every country is blessed to have Norway and Finland as neighbors, or to live without threat or fear of annihilation.

But when looking straight at the Middle East, Sweden’s moose-like blind spot seems to prevent it from perceiving this obvious truth.

The Jewish state, by contrast, can afford no such luxury. With our eyes wide open, we see the danger that surrounds us and the flames of hatred that wish to consume us.

Sadly, Swedish recognition of a Palestinian state only serves to add further fuel to the fire.

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