Stockholm’s false step on Palestine

The newly elected Social Democrat Swedish Premier, Stefan Löfven set an abrupt record in his inaugural speech delivered on Friday. He announced that his country will be the first one in the EU to recognize Palestine as a state. Later, the Swedish Ambassador to Israel tried somehow to soften the language, but the substance remains the same.

This is a gesture that blatantly ignores the need for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, pushing the latter to the usual rejection of a compromise, while enhancing the inclination to accept the version in which Israel is the one that is actually thwarting the peace process. Löfven, who is so interested in the Middle East, does not say a word about the chaos in Syria and Iraq, nor about the Swedish citizens leaving the country to join ISIS.

Only the Palestinians are important to that primped up, ecological, sanitized super-democracy. Its best way to show its dedication to human rights, and to its immigrants, is to pick on Israel, as it has been doing since Olof Palme’s times. As a result, according to the European Jewish Congress, that so much civilized country is to be ranked today among the most anti-Semitic in the world. A country where aggressions keep happening, synagogues and cemeteries are being attacked, where Jews are being beaten for wearing the kippah, where thirty families had to fleeMalmö, where Judith Popinski, an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, is being threatened and cannot be a teacher anymore, where the trendiest slogan you can see emblazoned on the t-shirts is “burn Israel burn”.

Fear and politically correctness make a deadly mixture. The Muslim immigrants are around a million, in a country with slightly less than nine million residents: none wants to discuss about it, and the “anti-racist diktat” is working there as it did in the Soviet Union, so, if your neighbors catch you reading the wrong newspaper, you will not find a job, nor they will ask you to come over for dinner. The anti-Israel anti-Semitism is now a “social must”.

Journalist Ingrid Carlqvist,co-editor with Lars Hedegaard of the critical weekly newspaper Dispatch International, had to flee abroad, while Hedegaardhimself faced an attack by a man who tried to kill him. Prime Minister Löfven has therefore pleased his constituency, but it is all according to the tradition.

And even more so, if you think that the tabloid Aftonbladet wrote that Israeli soldiers steal Palestinians’ organs in order to sell them. At the time, I personally asked the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, what was he planning to do to tackle the anti-Semitism in the country. “Anti-Semitism? I did not notice anything like that”, was his reply. In 2004, the Stockholm’s Museum of National Antiquities featured an exhibit showing a work of art dedicated to a Palestinian female suicide bomber. Thank God that Zvi Mazel, the then Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, managed to destroy it with his own hands.

This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Il Giornale (October 7, 2014)

About the Author
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.