"Jewish cemeteries and synagogues have been repeatedly defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a chapel at another Jewish burial site in Malmö was firebombed last January"
Fredrik Sieradzki of the Jewish Community of Malmö is pessimistic about the future of his community unless there is a "complete change in attitude." That seems unlikely in Sweden.
While various and sundry media reports claim that the U.K. has the highest level of anti-Semitism in Europe, Sweden cannot be far behind. For example, Sweden's daily newspaper with the largest circulation, Aftonbladet, reported last August that Israel was murdering young Palestinians and harvesting their organs. The report is yet another piece of blood libel worthy of The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion. The reaction by the Swedish government, including Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, to Israeli outrage caused a serious rift in relations between the two countries. In a detailed report published last month, Mikael Tossavainen chronicles the events, the subsequent fallout, and the consequences of the Aftonbladet piece.
The diplomatic crisis is, to me, a secondary issue. Much more serious are the impact on public opinion. How many people believed the story? How many used it to further hatred of Israel and anti-Semitism in general? Just last week I reported that an anti-Semitic blogger claimed that Israel's aid to Haiti after the earthquake last month was a ruse to allow for the harvesting of organs there. Last August Nathalie Rothschild wrote a piece for Spiked Online that started with this premise:
"An article about the IDF stealing organs suggests ancient myths are becoming acceptable again in polite society."
That certainly seems to be the case in Sweden.
Yossi Klein Halevi, in a September article for Jewish World review makes a point that sums up the situation perfectly:
"Accusations like the Swedish blood libel aren’t just a threat to Israel’s good name, but could become a physical threat to Jews everywhere. The Israeli “crimes” raised by Aftonbladet are precisely the kind of rationale used by terrorists to incite violence against Jews. In the current atmosphere, where the most inconceivable conspiracy theories involving Jews are readily believed by millions in the Muslim world, Aftonbladet’s recklessness is, potentially, an incitement to murder."
The problem is far more widespread than just the Muslim world. Violent anti-Semitism is becoming a worldwide epidemic.
The former Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazel, noted that the Aftonbladet incident is hardly unique, but rather reflects a trend across Sweden and, indeed, all of western Europe.
“In the last two decades, Israel has been indiscriminately attacked by European governments while the European press routinely distorts information coming from the Middle East. The Swedish press has been at the forefront of this trend, and with the article published last week by Aftonbladet it has clearly gone over the bend. About 80 percent of the newspapers there, especially the four national papers in Stockholm and hundreds of papers in the countryside, which set the tone in Sweden, are connected in some way to the Social Democrat movement and the trade unions, both of which are anti-Israel. There is a kind of dictatorship of the Social Democrats over the press in Sweden.
We have to face the facts. Israel cannot keep ignoring the onslaught coming from Europe, especially Western Europe and the EU countries. This demonizing of Israel is a very real threat that must be taken seriously."
Lets look at the consequences of the demonization of Israel: Jews in Malmö now feel they must flee for their lives. Hatred of Israel is the justification for anti-Semitic attacks across Europe and the Americas as well. I have to conclude that those who routinely claim that constant criticism of Israel doesn't equate to anti-Semitism are simply ignoring the facts and the consequences of their words.
Anti-Semitism in Europe is now reported to be at the highest level since World War II. The very people who hate Israel make it clear that now, more than ever, a safe, secure Israel is vital to the survival of the Jewish people. It remains a refuge for Jews who are reviled and persecuted the world over.