In October of 2015, in the Swedish city of Malmö, protesters at a “pro-Palestinian” rally—attended by several Swedish politicians—began chanting “Death to the Jews” and “More stabbings!” in Arabic. This sort of behavior, together with countless cases of small-scale harassment, has become almost unremarkable in Sweden. Josefin Dolsten writes (2015):
[I]ncidents where anti-Israel rhetoric turns violently anti-Semitic have created a climate of fear for Sweden’s small Jewish community, which numbers 15,000. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise, with 2014 seeing a 38-percent increase in reported anti-Semitic incidents from the previous year. . . .
Expressing public support for Israel can be dangerous, and the police do not always provide proper protection at pro-Israel events. During a 2009 rally in Malmö . . . the small crowd of Israel supporters was forced to abandon the event after police were unable to stop thousands of pro-Palestinian backers from storming the barricades and running toward the group. . . .
The Swedish government, headed by the left-wing Social Democratic party under Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, is known for its staunch support of the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel. In 2014, the country became the first European Union member state to recognize the “state of Palestine.” . . .
“When I say something [positive] regarding Israel I get a flood of hate mail and threats,” [said] Hanif Bali, a member of parliament for the center-right Moderate party, the largest party in the opposition bloc. . . .“The senders range from Palestinian or Arab immigrants to left-wing people in general, so the dialogue is very polarized and very aggressive. It’s hard to talk about the issue because you have to pay such a high price for it.” . . . The government’s stance on Israel is deeply ingrained in the political system, Bali believes. Pro-Palestinian groups are eligible to receive governmental funds to conduct lobbying activities, further [exacerbating the situation].
Sign Up For Our E-Mail List Get the latest from Mosaic right in your inbox
Sign up now for unlimited access