Edelstein to virtually 'meet' with Swedish Jews

Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein expectsthe diplomatic crisis over an incendiary Swedish newspaper report totake center stage next week when he meet s with Swedish Jewry in avideo conference with community representative.

Duringthe diplomatic crisis, which culminated with the cancellation of theupcoming visit to Israel of Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, manySwedish Jews said they felt trapped between the arguing parties.

"I'm sure no one in the community has any doubt that Israel isa free and democratic country that is not capable of doing the terriblethings that have appeared [in the Swedish media] recently," Edelsteinwill tell the community leaders, referring to the Aftonbladet reportalleging soldiers had harvested Palestinians' organs.

"Jews in Stockholm, and in every other community, shouldremember that IDF soldiers are not an abstract idea for us. They areour children, brothers, sisters, neighbors. They are not capable ofdoing the things unfortunately ascribed to them," he said.

But the meeting won't be an argument, he adds. "AnyJewish community should always remember Israel as a state is a partnerand friend," he said.

The meeting is a joint initiative of Edelstein's ministry andthe European Jewish Congress' leadel.NET project, an online initiativeto foster European Jewish identity through online media. It is headedby Vladimir Kantor, son of EJC president Moshe Kantor.

Edelstein will hold an online conversationfacilitated by leadel.NET's infrastructure with a different Jewishcommunity each month. In October, he will speak with the community ofSofia, Bulgaria, and in October with Milan, Italy.

The "conversations" will focus not only on communal leaders,but will seek to attract young people to discuss Israel with Israelipublic figures. Edelstein will invite such figures from academia, themedia, government and the military to participate in the discussions.

"The congress is working hard to connect communities in Europeto Israel using modern technology. It's time to learn how to use thetechnology to build new bridges," said Tomer Marshall, managingdirector of leadel.NET, of the online gatherings.