Sweden’s Cycle of Anti-Semitism

Dec. 14 2018

Last year, three Arab men threw Molotov cocktails at a synagogue in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. While a court initially sentenced one of the perpetrators, a Palestinian born in Gaza, to two years in prison followed by deportation, a higher court recently overturned the deportation on the grounds that his record of anti-Semitism might make him a target of persecution by the Israeli government. This is but one example of a systemic, threefold problem, writes Manfred Gerstenfeld: Muslim immigrants attack Jews, leftist politicians refuse to do anything while fomenting hatred of Israel, and far-right parties, some of which are hostile to Jews, gain popularity:

[A]nti-Semitism in Sweden is not limited to Muslims and neo-Nazis. A recent scandal concerns the highly reputable hospital of Karolinska University, [which] annually awards the Nobel Prize in medicine. The Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote a complaint to the hospital’s dean when it became known that open anti-Semitism among the hospital’s senior physicians had been ignored by management for almost a year. There were also anti-Semitic comments posted on Facebook. . . .

[Sweden’s numerous] problems with immigrants have given rise to the growth of a right-wing populist party, the Sweden Democrats. In the September 2017 elections they received 17 percent of the vote, an unprecedented level of support. This party promotes the banning of nonmedical circumcision. While this measure is aimed primarily against Muslims, who vastly outnumber Jews [in the country], it introduces a new element into Swedish anti-Semitism

Sweden has also long led Western Europe in anti-Israelism. The country’s best-known postwar prime minister, the Social Democrat Olof Palme, was one of the very few leaders of a democratic country to compare Israel’s acts to those of the Nazis. The current foreign minister, Margot Wallstrom, also a Social Democrat, has asked for an investigation into the killing of terrorists by Israel. She hasn’t made any such request from other democratic countries where terrorists have been killed after attacks. . . .

Sweden urgently needs to appoint a national anti-Semitism commissioner. Such a person might point out the anti-Semitic threats coming regularly from neo-Nazis and Muslims, the flaws of the police and justice system, and other failures of the authorities to deal with anti-Semitism. But Stockholm is highly unlikely to appoint such a person, [since it] would not welcome the revelations that would result.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, European Islam, European Jewry, Politics & Current Affairs, Sweden

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey