Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks

In Sweden, when it comes to Israel, it is mostly, “We the People” rather than the government, or the media that should matter

A few days ago, I hosted a reception in honour of two Scandinavian journalists, Ingrid Carlqvist, from Sweden and Lars Heddegaard, from Demark. The  two, very brave people, who have been fighting radical Islam in their respective countries, joined hands a couple of years earlier to set up their own newspaper, “Dispatch International.” One of the purposes of that move was to provide news not published in the Scandinavian mainstream media. As a journalist, Ingrid feels that the Swedish media is biased and does not cover the Middle East conflict in an even handed manner. Ingrid went further to state that people in the media face losing their job should they express pro Israeli attitudes. Lars shared her sentiments regarding Denmark

The anti Israeli sentiments in  their countries  is what they both feel has given rise to a new wave of anti-Semtism disguised as “anti-Zionism” and directed at the Jewish state, the only democracy in the Middle East. “There is hardly any mention of Jews in our media, ” Ingrid told us, “except, of course, during the Nobel Prize awarding ceremony as there are always Jews among the recipients,” she added half jokingly. “And if and when Israel is mentioned,” she maintained, “it is only to be pointed as the chief source and reason for all troubles

 But it is not only anti-Semitism that these two countries appear to suffer from. Overall, there seems to be a decline in the quality of education, economic  growth and other ailments that plague these formerly proud nations. “Stockholm,” Ingrid continued  to lament the  state of her country, “has become the rape capital of Scandinavia.” Both she and Lars attribute their countries’ path to near collapse to the en mass immigration of asylum seekers, primarily from Muslim countries, countries which pride themselves of values utterly foreign to those of Scandinavia

“It is sad that our country has allowed some of these radical people to turn it into,” Ingrid told us as she continued to paint a very gloomy picture of the reality that settled into Sweden. “We want to reclaim our Viking heritage and pride and bring our country back to its former glory.”

Since I have not visited Denmark in many years,  I cannot express an opinion about what attitudes towards Israel are prevalent on its streets. I have, however, visited Sweden a couple of times in recent months and  was able to meet with Swedes and learn about some of their attitudes towards Israel

“Don’t wear your Star of David in Sweden,” I was advised by one friend when she heard I was planning  to visit it. “Don’t tell anyone that you are from Israel,” I was  advised by yet another. It was, therefore, with rather mixed feelings that I embarked   a plane to go spend time with friends in Sweden. I did not know what to expect.

In a defiant frame of mind, I entered the Swedish street. I wore my Star of  David necklace for all to see and proudly told everyone I met that I was from Israel

The response that I got from most was rather unexpected and not at all what people had prepared me for. Many were warm and welcoming. Moreover, quite a few had been to Israel and had only positive and pleasant experiences in my Homeland. Some, upon learning that I was from Israel, even shared with me their dissatisfaction with the inflow of Islamists to their country and their disappointment with their government that had caved to their demands and dictates

At one point, I also met a Swede, Evert Jonsson, likewise, a journalist, formerly involved in politics and a pro Israel advocate.”Swedes,” he told me in our conversation, “know what Israel is up against. They know how hard it is to be a new nation. We had had three hundred years of war  before we enjoyed two hundred years of Peace. If one hundred Swedes, randomly selected, were asked: ‘If you had to move with your family to The Middle East, which country would you prefer to live in there?’ Ninety nine percent would choose Israel

Like Ingrid and Lars, Evert is similarly concerned about the metamorphosis of his country and what has become of it. “The vast domestic majority of Christian Protestants in Sweden,” he went on to tell me, “are becoming increasingly concerned by the import of the Middle East Conflicts to Sweden

Another Swedish friend, Kim Milrell, agrees that ” people aren’t that anti-Israeli here, it is rather the media and that is.” Kim is also disappointed with the Swedish government, which, he feels, has not offered its Jewish population any protection against the rise in anti-Semitism, “A country that can not protect its own Jewish population,” he told me, “has no right whatsoever to criticize the Jewish state, to where Swedish Jews flee for asylum

About the Author
Bat-Zion Susskind-Sacks is an English teacher and a pro Israel advocate. She lives in Israel and has recently published her first novel, "On A Wing From The Holy Land."