Stockholm's rabbi: Large Muslim population intimidates local Jews

Rabbi Isak Nachman says Jewish community in Swedish capital apprehensive about taking public stand against organ-harvesting story.

Rabbi Isak Nachman 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Judiska Forsamlingen I Stockholm  )
Rabbi Isak Nachman 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Judiska Forsamlingen I Stockholm )
The strong Muslim presence in Stockholm makes the Jewish community there apprehensive about taking a public stand against the recent article in the Aftonbladet tabloid reporting Palestinian claims that IDF soldiers stole body organs from Palestinians, Rabbi Isak Nachman, the spiritual leader of two Orthodox synagogues in the Swedish capital, said on Sunday. "We want to combat this type of thing, but some Jews here are afraid - there are between 400,000 and 500,000 Muslims out of a population of about nine million," said Nachman, a member of the Rabbinical Centre of Europe. "There is definitely anxiety and tension, especially at times when Israel is involved in a military operation, like Cast Lead," he said. Nachman added, however, that there was not a threatening feeling on the streets of Stockholm as a result of the article in Aftonbladet. "I walk around with a kippa and the Chabad rabbi here wears his hat. Muslims don't live in the large Jewish neighborhoods." Most anti-Semitic statements were being made by local bloggers, he said. The latest subject being discussed by these bloggers was the alleged Jewish connection of Sweden's ambassador to Israel, Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier. Bonnier, who called the Aftonbladet article "shocking and appalling," was sharply criticized by Sweden's Green Movement and by the country's main opposition party. The Swedish government also distanced itself from her statement. Now, said Nachman, Bonnier's marriage to a man who apparently has Jewish roots is being singled out for censure. "This is a very troubling development," he said. Stockholm's rabbi said that he was particularly disappointed with Sweden's intelligentsia. "There are plenty of educated people who know about the history of blood libels and have remained quiet," he said, adding that this non-action was in line with Sweden's neutral stance during World War II. Nachman echoed criticism voiced last week by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Nevertheless, Nachman said that the Jewish community still had not decided whether it would demonstrate against the article and against the Sweden government's unwillingness to condemn the accusations voiced in it.