Although the level of conventional anti-Semitism is low among the general population in Sweden, there is a concentration and rise of anti-Semitic activity originating in Arab and Muslim communities. This development goes unchallenged in the political echelons and in mainstream mass media.
The communities in question include people with personal links to the Arab-Israeli conflict, having been influenced by educational and political environments where hatred of Jews and Israel is condoned. A clear linkage between spikes in anti-Semitic attacks and anti-Israel sentiments can be seen in times of unrest, such as during the first and second Gaza wars, and in cities with a high concentration of Muslim immigrants, such as Malmö. Such anti-Semitic expressions, manifested under a thin vail of anti-Israel criticism, are not identified and dealt with systematically, on neither a national nor regional level.
The troubling enabler for the rise in anti-Semitism is the current political environment, led by a coalition government of the Socialist and Green Parties. This includes government ministers with open anti-Israel opinions, who have a history of participation in anti-Israel flotillas and anti-IDF demonstrations in the West Bank.
At the same time, Sweden’s foreign ministry is actively seeking non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council, leading to a palpable zigzag in foreign policy. In this quest, the end justifies all and any means, starting with a hasty recognition of the State of Palestine, ostensibly to bring a “new dynamic” to efforts to end conflict. By contrast, the opposite practical conclusion was drawn in the case of another conflict, that between Morocco and Western Sahara. Here, unilateral recognition in lieu of UN effort was ruled out to the great satisfaction of the Moroccan government, and the first IKEA store in Morocco is now on its way. Also as part of this effort, Swedish Deputy Foreign Minister Annika Söder recently visited Zimbabwe, where she drew previously unheard attention to the two nations’ common history and ability to learn from one another.
The Swedish government has an admirable view of aiding refugees fleeing from conflict, including many Jews after World War II. However, with regard to the current influx, a toxic mix of condescension and reverse racism is applied by the government and mainstream media. New immigrants are seen collectively as victims due to their harsh experiences, rather than judged as individuals with the free choice to take action and face the consequences of those actions. As a result, in the current political discourse, those from immigrant backgrounds are viewed as vulnerable and are therefore judged by a different yardstick, which allows them to stand beyond reproach when it comes to anti-Semitic tendencies.
One consequence is that, due to concerns for teacher safety, many schools in immigrant-dominated areas across Sweden are avoiding Holocaust education because this greatly upsets pupils who have received a different narrative at home or in their countries of origin. At the same schools, Jewish teachers are not able to reveal their identity publicly, and are unable to work if they do so. This remarkable development in a modern liberal society is not met by outrage and forceful action from the trade unions, state employers or relevant government authorities. Naturally, this gravely impacts the present and future situation of Swedish Jewry, however it also has far reaching repercussions with regard to the Swedish society as a whole.
The arrival of high numbers of refugees in 2015 has compounded these concerns considerably. Here, we hear reports of regular occurrences of violence at temporary facilities housing refugees, due to racism and intolerance within this group. As a result, special homes are being set-up to protect Christian refugees, LGBT refugees and refugees where mothers travel alone with their sons. Here, we can see a lack of political will to speak out on these issues as well as minimal mainstream media attention regarding the racism or discriminatory values that this population may bring into Swedish society. As a result, there are currently no initiatives to address anti-Semitic attitudes, neither among this wave of 150,000 refugees, the majority of whom seek to make Sweden their long-term home, nor among the hundreds of thousands that arrived in previous years.
The miscalculation at the core of this situation is that any rise in Islamophobia, with the potential detrimental consequence in terms of radicalizing local Muslims, is perceived as far more dangerous than the risk of ignoring a rise in anti-Semitism.
Therefore, when responding to anti-Semitic attacks in Sweden and abroad, leading politicians regularly insert references to Islamophobia and air grievances against Israel. Striking examples include Foreign Minister Margot Wallström, who saw fit to draw a parallel to oppressive Israeli policies against Palestinians when condemning the Paris Hyper Cacher terrorist attack, as well as seek an investigation into extra-judicial killings of Arabs when commenting on Israeli police actions against terrorists. Former Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson also felt compelled to passionately label the current refugee crisis as “Auschwitz on the Mediterranean,” although she later withdrew this statement. Attitudes relativizing and moderating Jewish suffering can also be seen when discussing anti-Semitism in the now infamous city of Malmö. Here, organizations representing local Muslim groups draw the conclusion that Islamophobia and the situation in Israel for Palestinians are more relevant issues than anti-Semitism, and, as a result, fighting anti-Semitism from within their ranks is not a priority.
Mainstream politicians and media believe and expect that immigrants will reward Swedish generosity by integrating seamlessly into Swedish customs and values. From their point of view, there is no need to discuss or debate whether this theory actually holds in reality, and, if not, to define and implement decisive action to uproot anti-Semitism in Sweden, independent of its source. This erroneous political correctness and acceptance is a plague for Swedish society in general, but, if their vilification continues unchecked, Jews will be its first victim.
Daniel Radomski is Chairman of the Zionist Federation in Sweden, and a Jewish Diplomat (JD) of the World Jewish Congress.