Mosaic Magazine

Seeking Shelter

Why I am filing for asylum in my own country, Sweden.

  

Here in Stockholm this fall, we in the Jewish community have enjoyed our 21st annual Jewish film festival, a klezmer concert, and a number of other cultural diversions. I choose the word “diversions” advisedly. It’s thanks to such entertainments that so many of my fellow Jews can allow themselves to say that we’re doing okay here—that there’s no need to rock the boat or cause trouble.

But you know what? We are not okay, and this is not okay.

Kosher slaughter has been outlawed in my country since 1937, and a bill is now pending in parliament that would ban even the import and serving of kosher meat. Circumcision, another pillar of the Jewish faith, is likewise under threat. In my job as a political adviser to a Swedish party, I have dealt with two bills on this issue in the past year alone; a national ban is rapidly gaining political support in the parliament and among the Swedish public. When it comes to our religious traditions, those on both the Right and Left in Swedish politics find common ground; they take pride in defending both animals and children from the likes of us, and from what one politician has called our “barbaric practices.”

The avenues of aggression may be new, but the rhetoric is old and familiar—and so are the effects. In today’s Sweden, home to all of 20,000 Jews amidst a national population of some nine million, the public display of Jewish identity, like donning a kippah or wearing a Star of David pendant, puts an individual at severe risk of verbal harassment and, even worse, physical harm. Synagogues are so heavily guarded that Jewish tourists are turned away if they try to attend services unannounced. Inside the sanctuary, we celebrate our festivals and holy days under police protection. On the afternoon of Rosh Hashanah, during the five-minute walk to the water for the ceremony of tashlikh, my young son asked a guard why so many policemen were accompanying us. Replied the officer: “so that no bad people can hurt you.”

This is the self-image—the reality—that Jewish children in Sweden grow up with: being Jewish means being under threat of harm from bad people. This is where we are at. One by one, our practices are being outlawed. Attacks on us are going unpunished. Politicians, journalists, and intellectuals describe us as barbarians. On November 9, the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a few hundred neo-Nazis marched through Stockholm in solidarity with their Greek allies in the Golden Dawn party. They marched legally, with police permits. Another few hundred leftists turned out in protest; a significant number were waving Hamas flags and sporting Palestinian kefiyahs. It made for a perfect synergy: a solemn anniversary, a day of shame, hijacked, with official permission, by two extreme and nominally opposite sides of the political spectrum, united by their hatred of Jews.

The recently released findings of a year-long survey by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights show that we Swedish Jews are far from alone. On the contrary: out of fear of violence, a majority of European Jews avoid going to Jewish events or wearing identifiably Jewish items of clothing. But the fear is especially strong in Sweden, where 49 percent say they refrain from such activity and 80 percent report having experienced a rise in anti-Semitism over the past five years. Sweden’s own National Council for Crime Prevention confirms the facts: anti-Semitic crimes have tripled since 2010. Worst of all is the situation in the city of Malmö, which has witnessed an increase of 320 percent in crimes against Jews since 2011. And these are just the reported incidents; one can only imagine how many go unreported each year.

True: we are not being murdered, and we are not being physically driven out. But our religious observances are being interdicted, our persons are being threatened, our safety is being endangered, and—in short—our human rights are being violated. Why do we put up with it? And why do pundits and politicians assure me that Jews in Sweden are perfectly safe when what they really mean is that we will be safe only so long as we agree to become invisible as Jews and cease to practice Judaism?

When I raise these issues with sympathetic Jewish friends abroad, including in Israel, the usual response is that Europe is over for the Jews—finished; that it’s too late to change things; and that Swedish Jews should move to Israel. I cannot accept that. No matter how much I believe in and promote the idea of aliyah, what is happening here is simply not right. People from all over the world seek refuge in my country in order to be who they are, and to live freely. I want this for them, and I want this for us.

EU statutes provide that asylum be granted to persons with “well-founded reasons to fear persecution due to race; nationality; religious or political beliefs; gender; sexual orientation; or affiliation to a particular social group.” Jews in Sweden meet these criteria, and should be eligible for the same protection and support extended to non-natives.

And so today, November 18, I am legally filing for refugee status and asylum—not in America, not in Israel, but here in Sweden, my own country.

Absurd? No doubt. I can only expect that my application will be summarily dismissed. But the situation is beyond absurdity, beyond op-eds and strongly worded letters of protest. The situation calls for action. I would like to think that in making this statement, I am fighting on behalf of Swedish Jewry as a whole for the right to live a religious life, to preserve our cultural identity, and to be who we are without fear of persecution—the same rights enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and guaranteed in the Swedish constitution. Is Sweden, is Europe as a whole, truly no longer willing to enforce its own standards of justice where European Jews are concerned?

A month ago, I sought out the parliamentarian responsible for the latest anti-kosher bill and others like it. Feeling at once sad, lonely, and furious, I told him that instead of churning out all these different measures, each one aimed at outlawing yet another aspect of Jewish life, it would be much easier to write a single bill outlawing Jews. At least that would be honest. When he protested, I ended up arguing with him over the kashrut bill for almost twenty minutes, giving him the facts until, unable to refute me, he turned bright red in the face, leaned in, and said: “Well, you know us. This thing you call multiculturalism. All of that. We don’t want it. Not here. Not in our country.”

I was startled, but also relieved. Finally, some truth.

And that, too, is why I need to make my statement, before it is altogether too late. Where the lives and safety and freedoms of its citizens are concerned, the Swedish government has made solemn promises. Let it live up to them.

Read Mosaic‘s August report on the looming end of European Jewry here.

________________________

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein is a Swedish writer and political adviser and an activist in support of Israel.

Comments

  • edward Jerusalem

    You are very brave, but you can no more win this fight, then could Don Quixote win his.

    You are wrong to reject the aliya option. You owe it to your children and to yourself, to live in a country that welcomes you with open arms and with love, and not to stay where the attitude is:

    “Well, you know us. This thing you call multiculturalism. All of that. We don’t want it. Not here. Not in our country.” I have recognised the truth. Take the right action.

    • Homer

      That’s because Don Quixote’s enemies were imaginary, just like here.

    • Rosalie Dann

      If all, good, honest people leave a town, city or nation that town, city or nation will in effect go to the dogs. Then Heaven have mercy on the children who are born there for who is left to show them what is right.

    • Beatrix17

      America doesn’t accept multiculturalism. And we shouldn’t. But we do accept freedom of religion and so we don’t run into these problems.

  • AndreaSvea2

    In Sweden, the endemic undercurrent of anti-semitism has
    been bolstered by the radical left and the Muslim immigration. This situation has endured years and will
    endure indefinitely. The subject has become a repetitive bore. The Jews living
    in Sweden could try wearing kippahs and Mogen Davids, meeting insult by disdain;
    physical assault is still the exception. Nothing can be expected from the
    Swedes who dislike disturbance in their duck pond. The pond is polluted but Swedes don’t react
    until overwhelmed – always late in the day. If the Jews leave, Sweden will have a more grievous
    Semitic problem.

    • FreyaB

      I agree. Most if not all Jew-hatred is driven by Islam’s anger and entitlement and the country’s fear of that. This scenario is being played out all over Europe.

  • IAintNoPushOver

    I cannot see how there can be a future for Jews in Norway or Sweden. There are far better and more hospitable places for Jews to live. You may find the Far East and sub-Saharan Africa to be surprisingly hospitable and free, and these are up and coming economies, unlike old Europe which is declining. Sooner or later, Norway and Sweden are going to devolve into a mass of civil warfare between the Europeans and the Islamic immigrants. Jews shouldn’t hang around there to get caught in the middle.

    • alan

      Why in the world would you suggest that a Jew seek refuge in the Far East and sub-Saharan Africa when he or she can come home to Israel? Yes, we have problems like any other nation and then some. But we have a rich, vibrant life imbued at every step with Judaism. There is every opportunity for free expression, spiritual enrichment, business success, and happiness. Why go elsewhere?

    • Victor

      Ah yes….sub-Saharan Africa, from which Jews have been exiting in large numbers since the 1960s!

      And, oh yes, the “Far East”, an area increasingly dominated by a new and (for all its many virtues) rather racist superpower!

      Yes, Jews may be welcome there for the time being but not as equal and fully participating citizens. Can you imagine a Jewish Vice President of the People’s Republic of China or even of the Republic of Singapore? No, I didn’t think so!

      It could be that the only places in which Jews can flourish on a basis of equality and fully participative citizenship will soon be Israel, North America and Australasia. But, in the meantime, I’d still prefer the UK and a few other European countries to the two suggestions you’ve put forward.

      But I agree that the goody-two-shoes small nations, such as Norway, Sweden or the Republic of Ireland, have let themselves down badly in recent years and are rapidly becoming bad places in which to be a Jew.

      • sing jew

        David marshall, a Jew, was the first minister of Singapore after independence, and was a leading ambassador, serving in 5 countries.

        • Victor

          Yes, I am aware of that. But it was a long time ago.

          Iraq’s first finance minister was also a Jew but that was even longer ago. Not that I am comparing Singapore with Iraq in any other significant way.

      • Lynnsey

        Victor, I live in South Africa. Yes, it has its problems. But we are happy here and can practice our Judaism openly and freely. We have an incredibly strong and close-knit Jewish community.

        This afternoon I visited a local shopping centre with my family. My son was wearing his kippah. The centre was packed with people, a large percentage of them Muslim families wearing traditional clothing (hijab etc). Everyone was enjoying themselves and minding their own business. This is a typical day out in Johannesburg.

        I have Muslim , Christian and Hindu friends and colleagues.

        Forgive any typos but this site doesnt work well on my tablet.

        • Victor

          Yes, Lynnsey, I agree that South Africa is, in many ways, a model of tolerance. Long may it continue to be so!

          But it makes no sense to cite it as a wholly better place than, say, the UK or the Netherlands for Jews to live in.

          Besides Jews are people and there are many reasons why people with skills and education of all races have been leaving South Africa in substantial numbers for the last several years.

          Meanwhile, what is left of the once flourishing Jewish communities of Zimbabwe or Kenya? So they’ve left because they were white rather than because they were Jewish. But they’ve left all the same.

          To cite sub-Saharan Africa – a region that also includes, for example, the Democratic Republic of Congo or South Sudan – as some sort of paradise for Jews or anyone else beggars belief.

          Yet this is what the poster known as AintNoPushOver seems to believe.

          If the obsessive Europhobia of some members of the US Jewish community is leading them to such weird conclusions, then they surely need to take a reality check.

  • Mgray38

    Good luck Annika, but unfortunately Europe is over for Jews. Come to think of it, it was over in the 1930s. Why waste your time in fighting a rear guard action. Get out while you can.

  • minda

    Decades ago I stayed on the Af Chapman. After checking in on my flight I waited near the gate until suddenly my departure sign was gone. I was told I had missed the silent announcement and would be penalized and, possibly be put on the next flight, That would have gotten me home literally on erev Rosh Hashana (for which I had stocked up at Vuokko). I was put through to the Chief Rabbi who said they did not accommodate.
    I asked about buying provisions (a day early) and was told too late.

    It wasn’t just ‘the state of Denmark.’

    • paula

      What can we do to help?

  • rm

    I sincerely hope that you succeed in changing the attitude of a country if that’s the path you take, but why would you want to live in a country that doesn’t want to live with you? There’s a whole country of Jews that you can team up with in fending off the anti-Semtism of the rest of the world and at the same time be a light unto the nations – wouldn’t you rather be part of that?

    • thepathtotruth

      If a person loves enough aspects of their own country to fight to keep it free of anti-Semitism, and if they have the constitution to fight, then they should stay put and battle for Jewish freedom. Are we going to retreat, or fight the good fight even if it’s a losing one? I personally don’t intend to give up an inch.

    • LeeZee

      So you are jumping on the bandwagon of making Sweden Judenrein? Let’s herd the Jews into one place and that way we can get rid of them all at one time? Iran can help us there, right? They wouldn’t mind if the fallout from the bomb demolishing Israel, would waft over adjacent Arab countries because they are killing off their own people, anyway. Brilliant solution! Wait a moment…that was tried, already. Didn’t entirely work. Oh, well…back to the drawing board! You do realize I’m being sarcastic, don’t you?

      • Sterny

        Most Iranians are Persian ethnically, not Arab. Arabs are not “their own people.”

        • howiej

          They are “their own people” not because they are Arab, but because they are Muslim.

  • Beatrix17

    What about Muslim circumcision and Halal, is that also outlawed in Sweden?

    • Lucy S.

      Yes, it is, but the race-card players here will not discuss that.

      • Beatrix17

        Jews are a race? But if that’s the case it should have been mentioned. Both groups should unite in opposition to unfair treatment.

    • Victor

      I don’t know about the situation in Sweden. But, in general, the current global agitation concerning circumcision is focused on it happening before the child is able to understand and make up his own mind on the issue. A contrast is therefore typically drawn between Jewish circumcision, which occurs shortly after birth, and the Islamic variant which, as I understand it, occurs in a boy’s early teens.

      It is, of course, open to question whether a thirteen year old boy from a strictly Islamic background is ever truly free to make up his own mind concerning circumcision. But it is on this tenuous assumption that the “political correctness” of this agitation depends.

      As to the difference between Halal and Kashrut, the Islamic leadership in many western countries now accepts the practice of stunning prior to ritual slaughter, thus circumventing some of the objections of animal welfare campaigners.

      Whilst I feel highly uneasy (to put it extremely mildly) about Jews anywhere being forced to live without Shechita, I also acknowledge an ethical responsibility to adhere to the most humane standards possible of both animal husbandry and slaughter. To do so is to act in accordance with the Torah which, in addition to its specific regulations, contains a recurrent “sub-plot” of kindness to animals on the part of the founders of our people and our faith.

      I have no doubt that, for most of our long history, Shechita has provided the gold standard of humane slaughter. Even so, I’m open to the suggestion that the most modern forms of stunning prior to slaughter might (and I stress the word “might”) have finally developed into a more humane alternative. The evidence is actually a bit mixed.

      Our rabbanim have traditionally sought wiggle room between traditional interpretations of Halacha and modernity. Had they not done so, we would continue to stone the socially deviant and to practice polygamy. Might animal slaughter not be a field requiring both objective analysis of the most humane approach and (depending on the evidence) a rabbinic search for wiggle room on this issue.

      • Beatrix17

        Excellent reply.

    • Peter J

      Muslim and Jewish slaughter in Sweden:

      It is forbidden to slaughter animals in Sweden without anaestethic. That is consider to be cruelty to animals. Some Muslim organisations have accepted this, and they have permission for Halal slaughter. Jewish organizations (and some Muslim) have not accepted this, and cannot perform religious slaughter.

      But int the case of slaughtering birds halal/kosher, there’s an agreement. So chicken are allowed to be slaughtered kosher. I assume it’s because you just chop the head off, no anaestethic is needed, but I’m not sure.

  • Isaac Novick

    The situation in Sweden is truly appalling, but one can find a similar situation closer to home. The Province of Quebec is about to ban the wearing of Kipot, stars of David, and mezuzot by government employees and quite possibly by anyone working for a company that does business with the government. The ban may extend to the serving of kosher food in day care centers and hospitals. At the same time the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, a McGill University teaching hospital, has been ordered to “repatriate” a number of non-Jewish patients from the outer suburbs (as if they were prisoners of war) and has had its budget cut. All this has gotten little press in the USA, but has caused an uproar in Canada. The law applies also to the wearing of Muslin, Sikh, Christian, and other religious items. As in Sweden, there has been a coming together of far left secularists, right wing xenophobes, and outright fascists.

    • Vibeke Streeval

      I did not know that this is going on in Canada and I am grateful for knowing.

      • Akiva

        This is not happening in Canada; it has been proposed, but stands no chance of being upheld. It is completely against the Canadian Constitution.

  • meir

    Sweden defines the good life of the modern comfortocracy; very difficult for Swedish Jews to say goodbye to all that. What about the ever increasing Muslim population? Will they give up circumcision without protest? Is opposition to multiculturalism the real issue? Swedish liberalism is in principle, if not in practice friendly to multiculturalism. Jews would be the easy part of stamping out multiculturalism — only 20,000. The Swedes will fold I predict when confronted with an angry Muslim population — not only too much of a threat to their comfort, but also to their liberalism. Granting that there is the growing anti-Semitism of the left to contend with, is the issue here not so much the Jews as internal Swedish reaction to Sweden’s own liberalism? Like to read something about Swedish politics.

  • thepalestinianrabbi

    Sweden was always anti-Semitic; they are so obsessed with taking in the poor so now they are taken over by Islam and stupidity.

  • Daniel

    I think the application for asylum is an inspired, briliant move.
    What I believe the author is asking for is not a policy “multiculturalism”, but simple tolerance. Multiculturalism usually suggests a policy of actively promoting non-integration and separation of persons of foreign extraction, in the name of preserving their culture; treating people as members of that group rather than as individuals, and channeling state funding through ethnic and religous institutions that therefore gain power; along with not questioning practices that are illegal and shocking to the West, e.g., GFM, child and spouse abuse. Jews need not ask for multiculuralism, simple tolerance and liberty will do.

  • Lucy S.

    Sorry, but an increasing number of Jews are rejecting circumcision and cruelty to animals, the same way they rejected stoning people to death centuries before. This sizable movement in the Jewish community is routinely shut out of mainstream Jewish publications so that it appears smaller than it really is.

    Genital mutilation of a baby with no anaesthesia is a barbaric practice and it is being forbidden to Muslims, too, so we cannot use the anti-Semitism card here.

    Signed,
    a Jew proudly fighting circumcision and cruel animal slaughter.

    • BC

      A Jew cannot be proud and fight circumcision and Kashrut at the same time. To deny Jewish religious beliefs and practices is to deny Judaism. Hanukkah is coming soon, and commemorates Jewish defeat over the Greeks – who didn’t wish to kill us – but only to outlaw Jewish practice and ‘become’ Greek. Sadly, many Jews of the day became Greeks and they were lost to the Jewish people. Sadly, Lucy, that will be your fate. If you don’t want to circumcise your son, or eat Kosher – don’t. That’s your choice. But to disallow a whole people’s heritage is Jewish self-hatred of the worst kind.

      • Beatrix17

        Jews have made changes. We live in houses, not tents, Jewish men have one wife at a time, and men wear pants, not long dresses. And so is there anything wrong with using some kind of pain relieving medication at a bris, or stunning an animal before killing it to ease the pain?

    • mmox

      If you choose to directly null the covenant HaShem made with our founding father that is your choice, however, it in turn nullifies HaShem’s covenant with you. As far as Kosher animal slaughter it is written to be done in a fashion that is the least painful for the animal, if the animal suffers it is no longer a Kosher ritual. Therefore there cannot be such a thing as Kosher cruel animal slaughter.

    • Beatrix17

      I’m not Orthodox, but I think you have a point. Does any of this explain why Jews need police protection to pray in their temple?

    • Rosalie Dann

      I am not a Jew but I am pro-circumcision. It is much more humane to do this on the 8th day – the day God gave, rather than wait until the child is older, and it is more painful or heaven forbid, until he is an old man and has to have it done because infection has set in due to him no longer being able to keep it clean enough. My mother worked in a hospital and saw this scenario often enough . Also the benefits to the future wife of this boy’s circumcision are a major plus – cleaner and less prone to infections which they may pass on to their wife (or other sexual partner). Enough said on that. As to humane slaughter – I would imagine the Jewish way is probably about as humane as it can be.

    • Nicolai DK

      Thumbs up, Lucy.

      Circumcision is a blood ritual from the Bronze Age. How many of those are still around with humane people? It must be banned – and it will.

      I’m proud to be a citizen in Denmark, one of the forerunners in this fight.
      No more dead, mutilated, and brain damaged baby boys from this barbaric custom.

  • Peter J

    “Another few hundred leftists turned out in protest; a significant number were waving Hamas flags”

    Really! If this is true it is truly disturbing. What’s the source?

    Annika Hernroth-Rothstein, what is your source that a leftist organization (who?) were wearing “a significant number” of Hamas flags?

    • FoSpeech

      She is the source. She was there. Also, she did not say it was a leftist “organization”, she only said it was leftists, and they were not “wearing” Hamas flags they were “waving” Hamas flags.

      • Peter J

        It’s clear from her text that Annika Hernroth-Rothstein wasn’t at the demostration. Besides, she lives in Gothenburg and the demostration was in Stockholm.

        If it would be “a significant number of Hamas flags” I’m sure many many people would wright about it, both in the pro-israel blogosphere, and in the news. But I’m not seeing anything of this.

        I’m sorry to say that I think that Annika is just making this up, in order du strengthen her case and line of argument. A lot of people in this thread apparantly holds the same general world view as Anders Bering Breivik. Many of us, that are concerned with antisemitism (and other forms of racism) are worried about this paranoid world view getting a hold of otherwise sane people.

        • Isabella Adamowicz

          That is a blood libel. How dare you! Jews can’t walk freely to synagogues,what’s Breivik got to do with that?

  • dave

    Another reason to apply for refugee status as a Jew in Sweden: In addition to the proposed ban on kosher meat and circumcision, the mayor of Malmo, Reepalu, suggested that if Jews wanted to be less endangered in his city they should make public proclamations against Zionism.
    So, potentially, not only will Jewish rituals be outlawed, but also Jewish support for Zionism.

    • Isabella Adamowicz

      That was done during Soviet times, famous Jews in Russia- scientists, musicians, generals ,were forsed to denounce Israel publicly on TV. Sweden is marching on the road that leads to a totalitarian state. Disgusting.

  • James D Miller

    The solution is for a million non-Jewish Swedes to wear Jewish symbols.

    • Lincoln M. James

      What, a million non-Jewish Swedes get themselves circumcised?

      If you don’t think that’s necessary, you’ve just negated the idea of circumcision being the only integral sign of Judaism.

  • Cimon Alexander

    How much of this has to do with the dramatic rise in Muslim immigration in Sweden? Sweden will be a majority Islamic society in my lifetime.

    • Dr. Pigeon

      How much?
      100%.

  • david

    I can relate to what you write…
    There is also an element which adds to Jews abroad feeling alienated and is the political situation in Israel regarding the occupation of another people, the Palestinians. I wonder how would it be if Israelis weren’t settling in Palestinian lands. It is regarded by the vast majority in Europe as a huge injustice and it give rises to resentment against Jewish people in general.

    • The Guardian

      Jews seeking to live peacefully in their ancestral homeland is a fundamental human right. Jews have lived in the Land of Israel without interruption for 3,000 years. It is where we became a people, where our ancestors wrote our history, and where our forefathers are buried. To call this “occupation” is a terrible slander. One cannot “occupy” his own homeland. Would you deny French the right to live in France? Or the English England? Would you feel comfortable telling blacks where they could not live? Or native Americans? The sad irony is that it is the Arab Muslims who invaded the Land of Israel who are the colonial occupiers. The Arabs came from Arabia as invading hordes with a sword in one hand and a Koran in the other. Are you OK with telling the Arabs they have no right to live in the Jewish homeland and to return to Arabia where they belong? If not, why the double standard?

  • Vibeke Streeval

    Why should Hernroth-Rothstein move to Israel? She is Swedish. Why do we assume that Israel would be the country that comes first in her life? She is Swedish. She has the right to practice her religion wherever she is and nobody has the right to tell her otherwise. Are we so blind that we don’t see that this hatred takes us down the some road we have been before? Shame on us. If her asylum seeking in her own country can put this issue to the forefront, more power to her. I am sorry to say that I think she has a long way to go. In Scandinavia we pride ourselves in our countries and think we have the best of everything. It is time we open our eyes.

    • Nicolai DK

      In Scandinavia we can pride ourselves in our countries – because we protect all people individually. Advocates of genital mutilation do not want that protection to extend to baby boys. Well, too bad for them, it’s happening, and it’s got nothing to do with anti-Semitism – just like the abolishment of Jew Laws had nothing to do with Semitism.
      Both are related to humanism!!

      • Lincoln M. James

        How dare you stop me from imposing a permanent medical alteration on my son that he may hate!
        The core of Judaism is logical, rational thought and respect for God and Man, is it not?
        It is not in cutting off your son’s foreskin.

        Who is more worthy to be called a Jew- a man who is not circumcised but fights for all human rights, and pushes for rational discourse?
        Or a man who was circumcised and reacts to everything aggressively and violently?

      • Ro

        Religious or irreligious imperialism at it’s worst…who are you to tell us…who have been practising Judaism for 3000 years…who have been circumcising our sons for as long…that we do not have the right to follow our laws? I think there is enough empirical evidence to suggest that our boys and men cope quite well with circumcision, in fact there are those who have found it to be medically sound and prevent certain cancers and so on…though that is not our reason for doing it…Haven’t you seen and heard enough of the Jewish people to know that we are humanitarian and decent, value adding people who have contributed disproportionately to humanity? If not …what planet are you living on. We don’t expect you to circumcise your boys if you choose not to…but please don’t presume to know what we should or should not do!

    • Isabella Adamowicz

      You don’t want to open your eyes, to open your eyes means to act upon what is in front of your eyes , but you don’t have the guts to confront Muslims living in your countries.

  • xabi

    In my opinion, Sweden is doing the right things for a developed country on the 21st century. Accusing them of antisemitism is hypocrisy and hate mongering. By the way, I’m a Jew living in Israel.

    • Maurice Tszorf

      Forbidding circumcision and kosher slaughtering is one thing that people not bound by the religious background can associate with.
      But do you also support the prohibition of wearing external signs of Judaism, such as a kippah or a Magen David pendant? Would you also support a prohibition of wearing a cross around your neck, or wearing a turban?

      • Elf_Lemon

        There is no prohibition in Sweden on wearing religious symbols. Some countries, often very secularized states, ban public employees from wearing any religious symbols at work. If that is what the public, who vote for the politicians want, it does not necessarily constitute an oppression of religious rights – since everyone is affected equally, regardless if you wear a cross, star of David pendant and kippa, a hijab or a turban.

      • Lincoln M. James

        Adults may choose to celebrate their faith in whatever external symbol they choose.
        Children, however, if they are to be given the freedom to choose their religion for themselves, must not be marked in a way to prevent this.
        A Sikh boy may grow up, choose a different religion, and remove his turban.
        A Christian boy may grow up, choose a different religion, and remove his crucifix.
        A Jewish or Muslim boy cannot remove his circumcision.

        • Berel Dov Lerner

          A child who grows up with Swedish as her native tongue cannot simply decide at age eighteen that she would rather speak perfect English without an accent. I propose that children be allowed to choose their own native tongue at age 18 and not be submitted to childhood linguistic indoctrination.

  • David

    I wish you luck and admire your spirit and devotion to fighting this anti-Semitism. I find ridicule is sometimes the best form of attack, for logic or reasoning won’t work.
    Maybe you need a Geert Wilders style of political party. I think the time is right and more people are making their voices heard.

  • Elderoziyon

    I was born in Gothenburg…but it isn’t my home, and it isn’t yours either. Save yourselves! Aliyah Now!!!!

  • Avraham Reiss -Jerusalem

    Shalom Annika,
    A Jew should not have to fight for the privilege of remaining in exile, when entry to a modern, free State of Israel is just 4-5 hours away from you.
    By insisting on not making Aliyah, you are disassociating yourself from all the spiritual strength that is Israel. All you are doing is trying tp make Sweden a better place.
    It’s not your job.

    • oaklandj

      Did you read her piece?

  • Johnny Eagle

    Blows the “anti-Zionism” or “anti-Israel” pretences out of the water.

    Jews are targeted everywhere.

  • Lord_KABIGON

    Do they ban muslim halal slaughter? I don’t think so. Double standard.

    • oaklandj

      Yes, that’s illegal in Sweden, too.

  • rob brownstein

    I love it. You are single-handedly exposing the Swedish hypocrisy for what it is. Thank you. Now, we need to clone you in Hungary, France, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium, etc. I applaud what you’re doing but I doubt it will change minds. Even when countries have no Jews to kick around they then turn to Israel for their fix of anti-Semitism. To make matters worse, we have our own self-loathing Jews – Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, and more. My only solace is I’m getting old. I won’t have to wring my hands a quarter century from now.

  • mcbee555

    It isn’t Jewish males who are stalking and raping young Swedish girls. Muslims are doing that. How is Sweden defending its females from that? If Swedes are really fed-up with multiculturalism, they seem to be taking a cowardly tack by assailing the passive Jews of Sweden who’ve always counted themselves as Swedes and aren’t conveying the message, “Move over, Swedes, Islam is here now and we will become more powerful in proportion to your appeasement to our demands.”
    No, Swedes of either no religious denomination or possibly Christianity, it would be simpler for you to blame Jews for the multiculturalism you’ve invited by importing Africans and middle-easterners who proselytize Islam.
    Yes, Swedish do-good politicians, you already know Jews won’t be stabbing people and blowing up buildings, they aren’t the people who do that world-wide.

  • brenrod

    It is the 1930′s so don’t wait until its too late. The author is avoiding the stark truth: Sweden is a Nazi state for the Jews. The Germans first gave the Jews a chance to leave so leave while you have the chance, Europe was finished for the Jews 70 years ago, face the truth of what Europe really is. It is time for the Jews to leave and get the whole 2000 year pogrom into the past. Ms. Rothstein is avoiding the ugly truth. rationality and logic is not the driving force so do not look for it. Please save your family and the other Jews from the inevitable replay in this chronic and serial drama.

    • Nicolai DK

      “Sweden is a Nazi state for the Jews.”

      Wow, you don’t understand anything about history, do you ?
      Do you actually consider outlawing dangerous genital surgery on babies, at par with murdering 6 million people?

  • brenrod

    This is the way that Hashem gathers the Jews and returns them to Israel.

  • Craig

    You are very brave and I support you!

  • Ray Chestnut

    If wearing kippot and Magen Davids are disallowed, then so should the display of the cross either on the human body or in front of buildings.

    • Lincoln M. James

      The difference is that a Christian child can, if they choose to renounce the faith of their childhood, take off their crucifix.
      A Jewish child cannot take off his circumcision.

      • Abu Nudnik

        Not quite true. Circumcision reversal is all the rage. It was very commonly practiced in what had been Ancient Israel and Judah during the Hellenic period.

  • Geoffrey Winn

    You are amazing. Yes you will fail in your application, but you have already succeeded in your campaign. Where you live – Sweden or Israel – is your choice. You should be free to live there as a person with the same rights as anyone else.

  • avi15

    Good luck with all that – holding back the tide, I mean. You might get your feet wet.

  • George Stoll

    So much for all those liberals in the USA who keep holding up the Scandinavian countries as the models, great models and the outlaw circumcision, kosher food and Jewish temples have to employ armed guards. Hey, all you US liberals you need to mobilize a pivot by the Occupy Wall Street movement to go to Sweden and defend the Jewish Community. Oh, I guess first you need to rescue the ‘tent’ people from the drug treatment centers. Seriously, this is an outrage which I am shocked to hear is going on in the enlightened liberal country of Sweden. Liberals like to fantasize that oppression is just a manifestation of the right; welcome to the real world of liberal thinking, political correctness and narrow mindedness demonstrated in Sweden.

    • oaklandj

      Look at the situation in Hungary, with right-wing Jobbik creating a similarly perilous situation for Jews. Get your head out of your tuchus.

      • Abu Nudnik

        The Hungarian situation has a different dynamic. Hungary is doomed as a nation, a culture and even a language because of its plummeting birth rate. This is the main event driving Hungarian nationalism. Since it is socialist, like all of Europe, their socialism is national socialism. Hungary is not a good comparison between conservative and liberal forces in America.

  • Rabbi Gerald Sussman

    Maybe we should demonstrate in front of the Swedish consulate in NY or encourage Swedish Jews to apply for asylum in the U.S.; that would show them.

  • Luisa Simberg

    It is very sad. But it is the same in all European countries. My daughters (aged 28 and 30) wear Stars of David in their jobs and everywhere (doctor and lawyer). It is a question of self confidence.
    We live in Stockholm but we are not religious.
    Luisa

  • Gunnar Ivarsson

    Annika is withholding facts. There is no law being passed that “bans kosher” per sé, it is religious slaughter methods that will be forbidden.

    • Abu Nudnik

      That’s a distinction without a difference. Kosher meats are kosher only because they were slaughtered in the way demanded by religious ritual. She also points out that the Swedes are banning imported kosher meats because they were ritually slaughtered. Deceiving others is one thing but to deceive yourself shows an underlying shame. That’s hopeful.

  • zoharfreiberg

    Come to Israel!!! In Sweden, there is no longer freedom of religion for Jews.

  • Laurel Offenbach

    It’s important to watch the signs of the times. Many did not in Europe in the 1930s. But now there is a true home to go to:the Land of Israel. It is your provision. God will never leave you or forsake you.

  • Rose of Sharon

    I believe that Jewish people should fight for their rights in Sweden, but on the other side of the coin is the fact that our homeland is Israel, not Sweden.

  • Daniel Seely

    Please take into thoughtful consideration, your religion ends where somebody else’s body begins.

  • Catalina Jaramillo

    “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Gen. 12:3

  • Lincoln M. James

    Do you support the circumcision of female girls, by which I mean the removal of the clitoral hood, as practiced by some Muslims, as an article of their faith? Do you feel the banning of female cutting in infants is an attack on religious freedom?
    If you support the right to circumcise boys but the right to ban female circumcision (even the “ritual nick” that removes no flesh at all) is this hypocrisy?
    This is not a rhetorical question. So far, though, no proponent if male circumcision will answer this question.

    • Professor

      We believe in the circumcision of boys because the Torah demands it. Observant Jews believe that the Torah is from God and we are supposed to obey its laws. There is no requirement in the Torah to cut girls.

      • Lincoln M. James

        That hasn’t answered my question.
        Do you feel the banning of female cutting in infants is an attack on religious freedom?

        • Isabella Adamowicz

          That is not religious freedom, it is cultural. Turkish Muslims don’t circumcise their girls, nor do Malaysian, Indian, or Pakistani Muslims. You are showing your ignorance, I advise you in future to find out a little more on the subject before commenting.

          • Lincoln M. James

            Actually, you are incorrect. Malaysian Muslims practice a form of circumcision called “ritual nick”, wherein a prick is made on the clitoral hood. It is still called circumcision. You might also like to be made aware that the total removal of foreskin is a fairly recent form of male circumcision. About 2000 years ago circumcision existed either as a ritual slit in the foreskin (not total removal of) or in removing that part of the foreskin that extended past the glans (about 3mm).
            Unfortunately, not only are you showing your ignorance of the multiple firms of female circumcision, Muslim culture in Malaysia, circumcision over 2000 years ago and the history of Jewish culture but you also have not answered the question.
            I advise you in future to be careful who you accuse of being ignorant before you comment, else you will look rather silly.
            But, again, you are drawing a thin bow. This whole issue is, surely, cultural—one-day Jews demanding the right to circumcise their 8-day boys as a cultural expression.

            Thus, it is a cultural freedom the Jews are fighting for.
            Ergo, I ask again.

            If you fight for the freedom of Jews to circumcise boys, do you not fight for the freedom of Muslims to circumcise girls?

    • abebird

      Circumcision of boys is not intervening in the natural function of the body, but on part of the skin that has no any significance. Circumcision of females is in no way similar because it is a surgical intervention in a natural essential function part in the body with blood vessels and nerves.

      Judaism does not permit even a notch and draw on the skin, while in Western culture phenomenon it is common and dangerous (Infection).

      • Lincoln M. James

        I think you’re confusing female circumcision with infibulation, so let me point out facts that I would have expected anyone participating in this discussion would already know.
        Female circumcision runs the gamut from total infibulation (more extreme than Male Circumcision) through to only a ritual nick (less extreme than circumcision).
        You say that “Judaism doors not permit even a notch…on the skin” but removing a boy’s prepuce does not, somehow, count?
        That female circumcision is “different” because a girl’s clitoral hood has blood and nerves?
        So one cannot cut flesh that has nerves and blood?
        Yet during a circumcision, does not the boy bleed? Does he not cry? Then indeed, the foreskin has both nerves and blood. Yet still… it is permitted?

        You also say that cutting a girl in any way “interferes with a natural essential function”- then does not cutting a boy’s foreskin off also interfere with a natural essential function?
        If the foreskin is, as you say, a part of the skin that has no significance, then surely the female clitoral hood, being made of the same material and serving the exact same function (though smaller) also had no significance?

        In which case, why oppose it?

        Of course, I oppose infibulation.

        I just do not see how one can state a cut on a girl cannot be accepted whilst removing part of a boy is acceptable.

        • Berel Dov Lerner

          When people have a deep religious commitment to female circumcision and it consists merely of a ritual nick of the skin bringing no consequences beyond a crying fit that lasts for a few seconds until the child is nursed, I really don’t think the state should interfere. If you are really concerned with the well-being of children, you should outlaw private swimming pools.

  • Phish

    As an atheist and someone who is quite familiar with Sweden (I spent 10 years in Scandinavia), I look at this very objectively. While I understand Annika’s passion on the subject, she is deliberately mixing two different issues.

    First, the neonazis/skinheads are an abomination and their beliefs and behavior are opposed by the vast majority of swedes. They are also outliers politically, so they have zero input to any laws that are being put through the Riksdag. Putting stories of these in the same article as a discussion with the politicians is misleading and treats the readers as gullible. Annika does herself and her readers a disservice by misleading people in this way. See this for a taste of how the far right is viewed: http://www.thelocal.se/20131110/injuries-at-disgusting-neo-nazi-rally

    Next the opposition to circumcision has to be seen as an objective opposition, and is, in my view, not at all anti-Semitic. The Swedes rightly oppose FGM as, I hope, all the readers of this article do too. However they see male circumcision as a manifestation of the same abusive practice. If you equate opposition to circumcision to antisemitism, do you also equate opposition to FGM as anti-whatever sociopolitical/religious group think it’s appropriate? Sweden sees chopping off pieces of a defenseless child as abusive and abhorrent, irrespective of who is offended by that opposition.

    Neither kosher not halal are banned in Sweden, but the requirement is that the animal must receive an electric shock to render it unconscious before the cut, and the animal can die as a result of the shock. This law was actually reviewed around 5 years ago and the animal protection authority (Djurskyddsmyndigheten) decided it was appropriate to retain it. If the view is that this law is a requirement to prevent cruelty to animals, it’s not surprising that they impose a ban on the import of meat not slaughtered to these standards. In other words, this is not antisemitism, but rather prevention of cruelty to animals.

    The problem is that the Jewish faith has practices that are based on ancient rituals, and which offend modern sentiments. That’s what’s happening in Sweden and other countries. Obviously if there is a preponderance of people who follow the Jewish faith, there will be support to continue to allow these practices. Conversely if the minority fails to persuade the majority that what they perceive as abusive should continue, these practices will be outlawed.

    Finally, a comment on that politician. Assuming Annika’s description of the conversation is accurate, she would get much, much more support for her cause by recounting it to DagBladet. Since she’s Swedish, she knows that the Swedish people would not tolerate that kind of behavior, and publicising it would sound the death-knell for his political career.

    • Abu Nudnik

      You must not have read the article: ‘I ended up arguing with him over the kashrut bill for almost twenty
      minutes, giving him the facts until, unable to refute me, he turned
      bright red in the face, leaned in, and said: “Well, you know us. This
      thing you call multiculturalism. All of that. We don’t want it. Not
      here. Not in our country.”‘ Do you really think this conversation would have had a different conclusion if it was about circumcision rather than dietary requirements? “Well, you know us. This
      thing you call multiculturalism. All of that. We don’t want it. Not
      here. Not in our country.”

      “Our country.” But a Jew born in Sweden is not part of this “our country” he’s speaking of. That’s the problem.

  • karnak1000

    Circumcision belongs to another age. Ritual slaughter I am not sure, but seeing how it is done in Israel, I think it ought to be banned. These are very valid points, and if people in Europe are not willing to live with that, well they can to where it is accepted.

    But really what is more worrying to me is that no where in Europe it is safe for a Jew to hang out with external sign her/his faith.
    That is the real problem.

    • EconomicFreedom

      “Circumcision belongs to another age.”

      So does fire, and so does the wheel.

      Your statement is quite possibly one of the stupidest I’ve read here.

    • abebird

      Circumcision in Africa saves lives of millions. Do you want the UN doctors to halt circumcision and let millions to die from AIDS and other diseases? It had been proved that beyond religious ritual, circumcision has some healthy advantages. It is better to circumcise the boy as early as possible. Circumcision is not intervening in the body but on part of the skin that has no significant value whatsoever.

    • Abu Nudnik

      What is a “very valid point?” I mean, compared to a “valid point?” These distinctions are didactic forms to create accepted and unaccepted. Swedes who practice Judaism are, you strongly imply, not Swedes at all. The next stage is that someone who doesn’t share all your opinions is free to go from the lands of their own births. This is ugly.

  • chrishaines47

    Mazel tov. How many UK citizens applied for political asylum in Sweden in 2013? Four. How many granted it? Two, so a 50% success rate. Compare to Norway where the “48 hr rule applies” – any EU national applying is given 48 hrs to leave Norway.

  • Cassandra

    So are they outlawing halal slaughter too??

  • Frances Sekela

    Quite an eye-opener!

  • TomSolomon

    During the D’var Torah, our rabbi reminded us that during the historical exodus from Egypt, 80% of the Israelites decided to stay in Egypt, whereas 20% left. The author is one of the 80%.

  • Ilan Nagar Yahav

    Dear Annika, 22 years ago I visited Sweden and even then I found Sweden a country that doesn’t want Jews living there. In Sweden they prefer Arabs and not even one Jewish person. so you have two options: one: to make aliyah to Israel; second: to come and live in the Dominican Republic because there is no anti-Semitism here.

  • Yehuda

    I spent about 8 months in the 80s in Stockholm (postdoc) and have not noticed much antisemitism then (and I’m rather tuned in on it because I was born in Poland). The kosher laws may look ‘barbaric’ to some but the issue is deeper. Could it be that the question of Israel and the Palestinian treatment is feeding this? I believe so. I find Swedish people fair and decent so I am a tad perplexed.

  • Boras

    As a Catholic, I feel great sympathy and support for the Jewish people’s plight in Sweden and elsewhere. I have spoken against antisemitism in my circles, when I discover it amongst friend or foe alike, but it seems to be to no avail once it is engrained – it is an irrational hatred and a sickness of the mind. Luckily, I teach religious education and have opportunities to make sure my young people are formed with positive attitudes. Annika has re-awakened my resolve to try harder in my own sphere to stamp this awful picking upon a minority. Rabbi Abraham Skorka stayed for a few days at the Vatican and the Pope ensured that all the meals were kosher. Hopefully, this will send out a strong signal. I hope my words reassures Jewish readers that many of us in Europe don’t hold these antipathies and there are many friends willing to stand up for you.

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