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December 2, 2015 9:10 pm

The Swedish Tiger Roars as Synagogues Close

avatar by Eric Fusfield

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The Great Synagogue of Stockholm. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Great Synagogue of Stockholm. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

It was a familiar slogan throughout war-time Sweden: en Svensk tiger, which can be translated as “a Swedish tiger” — or, more to the point: “a Swede keeps secrets.”

The so-called Swedish Vigilance Campaign made this expression the focus of its effort to prevent Swedes from spilling secrets that could harm its national defense during World War II.

But the World War II silence campaign is best understood in the context of Sweden’s complicated relationship with Nazi Germany. Despite its neutrality, Sweden sold iron ore to Germany and allowed Hitler’s regime to use its railways when Germany invaded Norway. In 1943 the Swedish government instructed its central bank to ignore evidence that the Germans were paying Sweden with looted gold. Swedish silence, it seems, applied to more than just national security secrets.

Whether Sweden’s actions during the war were a product of weakness or indifference to German aggression — or both — the country’s history makes its role today as self-appointed moral arbiter in the Middle East all the more puzzling. The Swedish tiger has awakened, but is using its voice to lash out at the Jewish state.

In 2012 a group of Swedish politicians with extreme anti-Israel views formed an organization called the Jerusalem Committee. Its supporters include current Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist.

In 2014 Sweden recognized a Palestinian state, saying that the criteria for statehood had been fulfilled, even though the Palestinians had not negotiated an agreement with Israel.

Swedish Housing Minister Mehmet Kaplan participated in an anti-Israel flotilla from Turkey to Gaza in 2010. This past summer, a similar fleet left Sweden before being intercepted by the Israeli navy en route to Gaza.

Following the ISIS attacks in Paris, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom bizarrely responded by linking the atrocities to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:  “Here again, you come back to situations like that in the Middle East where not least the Palestinians see that there isn’t any future (for them),” she said. “(The Palestinians) either have to accept a desperate situation or resort to violence.”

Such actions follow a longstanding tradition of anti-Israel bias in Sweden, whose government has yet to condemn the ongoing terrorist onslaught against Israeli civilians, even as it rationalizes the attacks in Paris by citing the situation of the Palestinians. Unfortunately for Sweden’s beleaguered 20,000-member Jewish community, the government’s anti-Israel rhetoric is feeding a climate that has severely compromised Jewish security.

On November 19, synagogues in Sweden temporarily shut down in response to the Paris attacks, as Jewish institutions in that country were seen as highly vulnerable targets. Sweden has seen a pronounced increase in antisemitism over the past decade, caused largely by a highly radicalized Arab and Muslim community, a neo-Nazi political party called the Sweden Democrats, and a steady drumbeat of anti-Israel criticism in the media. A 2013 European Union survey indicated that one third of Swedish Jews had experienced antisemitic harassment in the previous five years.

This is a form of linkage that Swedish politicians should better understand: the demonization of Israel and the double standard consistently applied to the Jewish state have consequences for the security of Jewish communities around the world, with Sweden as a notable example.

And as they contemplate that very real contemporary dynamic, Swedish officials should further consider: How does a country that remained neutral during World War II, cooperated with the Nazi regime, and allows antisemitism to thrive, still feel it has the moral authority to lecture the Jewish State on how to defend itself?

The author is the deputy director of the B’nai B’rith International Center for Human Rights and Public Policy and director of legislative affairs.

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  • JEAN
  • HaroldT

    I cannot understand why Jews continue to live in that evil country. Do they see a future for their children there ?

    • ellenl

      They don’t view themselves more as Jews than as Swedes. They identify as Swedes.

  • In 2009, Malmö hosted a first-round Davis cup tennis match between Israel and Sweden. Due to “reasons of security,” no spectators were allowed to enter the stadium and watch the match. Prior to the game, numerous Swedish politicians had called for it to be cancelled due to their pro-Palestinian views and the aftermath of the Gaza War. A plan to move the match from Malmö to Stockholm failed due to logistical issues and a lack of time and the decision was made to ban all spectators because of security concerns after the city’s recreational committee dominated by The Swedish Social Democratic Party and the Left Party won a vote 5-4 after a long debate. The recreational committee said it could not guarantee security for the fans to witness an Israeli team that included top ranked woman Shahar Peer. The Malmö decision came after Peer was denied a visa to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships thus placing “progressive” Sweden in the same camp as Dubai.

    In the end, Israel defeated and eliminated the Swedish team by a 3–2 score. Can any sports figure from any other country claim to have been subject to such discrimination and discourtesy (since the murder of the 1972 Olympic athletes in Munich)? More than 6,000 pro-Palestinian protesters, including many ethnic Swedes disgraced themselves and their country making it the largest political demonstration over a sports event in Swedish history. Malmö was banned from hosting any further Davis Cup matches in the aftermath of the riots. The city was also fined $25,000 by the International Tennis Federation.

    In March 2012, Malmö’s mayor Ilmar Reepalu again came under criticism from the Jewish community when he told a Swedish magazine that the “anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim” party [Swedish Democrats] had “infiltrated” the city’s Jewish community in order to turn it against Muslims but later had to retract this statement and said that he had no basis for his remarks and that he “shouldn’t have put it that way.”

    His remarks make anyone familiar with the history of anti-Semitism in Scandinavia cringe and testify to how low Sweden has sunk. Contrast them with the unbelievable heroism and undaunted courage of Raoul Wallenberg (January 17th was the 70th anniversary of his disappearance), who risked his life many times and managed to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from annihilation due to his authority as a Swedish diplomatic envoy in Budapest. He has been granted honorary citizenship by the United States, Israel, Canada and Hungary. The lesser known Torgyny Segerstedt, was the crusading anti-nazi editor of GHT, Göteborgs Handels och Sjöfartstidning (Gothenburg Trading and Shipping Paper) who voiced fearless public criticism of Nazi antisemitism and mocked Hitler until his death in March, 1945. He refused to bow to pressure from all sides to imprison him and shut down his newspaper. Segerdtedt, like Wallenberg, was honored by a Swedish postage stamp with his image.They are forgotten today by Sweden and the International Left.

  • The author Eric Fusfield is typical of the demented Leftwing press in the West that labels any nationalist sentiment or a pro-israel stance as neo-Nazi. The moronic 2,000 rabbis who support unrestricted immigration to the U.S. by Syrian refugees are more damaging to Israel and American interests than any rightwing group. The Swedish Democrats are the only truly democratic party in the country!

  • Jane S. Gabin

    Jews — just like Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, pagans, whatever — should be allowed to live WHEREVER they want! Jews make good citizens because they contribute in a positive way to the countries where they go.
    But I think it is NOT a good idea for all Jews to move to Israel. Why give the Jew-haters such a target? Come to the United States — where one just has to worry about the crazies with guns who target everybody.

  • Mark Teller

    As an American of Jewish ancestry I find it offensive to try to brand an entire nation,Sweden, as being antisemetic. Yes in the recent past their government and industry Moguls did aid the Nazi war machine. Yes, some Swedish politicians have pro Palistinian and anti Israeli sentiments. Some may even be true antisemites. You cannot paint an entire people with a universal brush, this is a weapon the Jew Haters have used against the Jewish people for centuries. Don’t make the entire nation of Sweden a scape goat because of a vocal minority,

  • Truthblade

    After reading this article, there is no mystery: Sweden’s “neutrality” in World War II was only a passive-aggressive ruse in which they not only sided with the Nazis, but they may very likely have been making requests of the Nazis to provide them with more looted gold.

    It’s funny how deftly articles like this one try to avoid the obviousness of this point to a degree that ultimately becomes ludicrous. Sentences such as “Whether Sweden’s actions during the war were a product of weakness or indifference to German aggression — or both” attempt to limit the possibilities for crypto-Nazi nations like Sweden to just two options for guilt, when what’s perfectly obvious is that a glaring third option exists, and it goes well beyond “weakness or indifference”.

    The third option is “full support of Nazi Germany and anti-Jewish malice”. How odd that this article wouldn’t point out that 800-pound gorilla in the living room and choose instead to be complicit in helping Sweden escape full and actual accountability for its crimes.

  • Rick Brandt

    My grandparents came from Sweden. So I l8ve them but ive felt verry ashamed of my histirical home the 9ast 60 years.pray for revival in Sweden, the sin causes blindness and ignorance.

  • The Swedish Democratic Party (Sverigedemokraterna) are indeed NO “neo-Nazi party.
    In regard to our Jewish State, it is the only party in the current Parlament that is promoting understanding of Israel and press issues against the multi million dollar government support to the PA, PLO, and to the al-Fatah; described by the Social-Democratic prime minister, Mr Stefan Löfven, as his party’s “dear sister-party”.
    /Baruch Adania, MA (Former member of the Information board at the Jewish Community in Göteborg (Gothenburg), Sweden)

  • Bernt

    Dear Sir, I have to correct you regarding your statement that the political party Sweden Democrats are a neo-Nazi political party, that’s wrong. Sweden Democrats are pro-Israel.
    The problem Jews have in Sweden are created, mostly, by the Muslim community and left wing supporters.

    Best regards.


    • Sweden Democrats are the most pro-Israel party in Sweden – that’s true. But it also has a background som 15-20 years ago in neo-nazism if I’m not completely misinformed. However, that is presumably history now and SD is no doubt very quick to strike on neo-nazi tendencies if they crop up in the party. One thing remains to be done though, and that is to change the policy so as to allow circumcision on young boys in their 8th day, which is a sign of God’s covenant with the Jewish people, i.e. an important part of Jewishness. This shouldn’t be a hard nut for Sweden’s Christians to crack either, as Jesus of Nazareth was circumcised in the Temple on his 8th day, being Jewish as his mother Mary.

    • Carl Berg

      yes I agree. The Sweden democrats is nationalistic and not always nice, but not at all Nazi (this is the propaganda among the political correct “culture workers”). And they are actually the only Swedish political party that really supports Israel. Many Jews sympathize with the party and in fact one of the leading officials is of Jewish origin. I would label Sweden democrat as “old fashioned social democrats” and therefore impossible for any liberal to support in spit of their positive attitude to Israel.

    • sheridan

      Swedens problem is leftist socialist politions MANY of whom are jews. Socialiasts in sweden have great jewish support. Swedish democrats are not so called nazis just patriotic swedes who are protecting there people from the jewish lead socialist migrant invasion as per you tube interviews with swedish jewish activists who lead the influx of muslims into sweden. The REAL victims here are not jews or muslims but the ethnic swedish people. The swedish democrats were formed to combat the leftist jew and muslim destruction of beautiful sweden. The swedish democrats have displayed not anti semtism unless you mean anti semitism means if a swede doesn’t lay dowm and die for a leftist socialist or a muslim then he is anti jewish. Swedes have now the highest rape stats on earth committed by mainly muslims migrant invaders. So how does that amount to jews having problems? Its ethnic swedes that are suffering

  • art frank

    Israel should close its embassy in Stockholm and break diplomatic relations with the Jew hating swedes, and the Jews in sweden should make aliya. Why live in such a terrible place?

  • Tony Rice

    By now Sweden must be having regrets re the influx of Muslim immigrants and their own one-sided support for Palestinians. Muslims will bankrupt Sweden, but that will be their problem, and before that happens, no doubt most Jews will have left that country. As to Sweden’s ” cooperation ” with Germany during the war, I think Goering’s wife was Swedish, they had property there and they visited Sweden quite often.

  • Myron Slater

    Sweden has been an antisemitic county for many years even before the Second World War. The Jewish community better take note, and leave for Israel before it’s too late!

  • Eli

    Good article generally but the following sentence is so wrong it could be: “a neo-Nazi political party called the Sweden Democrats”.

    SD, the Sweden democrats are the only true Israel friends in the swedish parliament. Here is a picture from SD’s own election night party:

  • Lou VanDelman

    Time for the Jews of Sweden and all of Europe to start moving to Israel. We should not delay, as the past experiences in Germany and other European countries before the outbreak of WWll, displayed anti-Semitism to extreme heights. We might have left then, maybe several million Jews might have been saved.

  • djoffe

    Time to mobilize. This is outrageous. 2015. Hard to believe this is actually happening. We must be proactive and figure out how to deal with this horrific anti semetislm which is not only happening in Sweden, but in many other parts of the world. I would not want to imagine the path of destruction that can happen again. We must put an end to this hatred.

  • isaac Brajtman

    Well, good luck to Sweden. Soon they will have Sharia law and those beautiful Swedish girls will be in Burkas , and serves them right.

  • Malcolm Jackson

    Nazi Germany did not need to invade Sweden during WW2 for the simple reason that Sweden was willing to do whatever Nazi Germany told Sweden to do. Today Sweden will do whatever the evil cult of Islam orders Sweden to do.

  • Mette Thomsen

    To the best of my knowledge (as a Dane), the expression “en svensk tiger” has nothing to do with “a tiger.” To be silent, keeping your mouth shut, is “tiga” in Swedish. So the expression actually does say exactly “a Swede is silent”, i.e. holds his tonuge.
    Apart from that, it a fine article and I couldn’t agree more.
    And thank you for a great website!
    Mette Thomsen

  • Sin is a reproach to any people.
    The telling of this is sad. I mean that this infamy is a reproach brought upon a people by some before, which is heard more of, is again saddening.
    Seeing here how and why elders said nothing of ancestry for fear of harm, by either guilt by association, false blame or by malice. “Speak English only.”
    A great aunt in Norway was exposed by collaborators for aiding downed Allied airmen,and executed. Then those who look into geneologies, etc.,doing do so for harmful purpose. The fear is not a fake. The leaders of other countries of many were making silence. Sweden on the other side. Rubs it in. <May we do better.

  • Lars Engerblom

    I, as a swede,
    must sadly confirm your article.
    The Sweden democrats though seems to be the only party on Israels side.
    They are called nazis by the politicalpartys because they
    do not aprove of the migration policies in Sweden.

    • I on the other hand am grateful for the Swedes for having taken my aunt and saved her from the Nazis. She bore a daughter and now a small clan of cousins and nephews, so thanks must be given when due
      It was a a Swede raoul Wallenberg who saved tens of thousands of Jews from Hungary.
      trade with Sweden 2010 is 148 million export 160 million import. That is not shabby at all
      So there is a difference between official public Swedish stance and comm ercial reality is vast.
      If Sweden does not want its Jews they are always welcome in Israel.
      As things go for Sweden, soon Swedes will be asking for asylum in Israel as their country is overrun by Islam

  • Many thanks for your article! Strange feeling to read it, as I wrote a very similar article with similar conclusions only a couple of days ago, but so far never sent it for publication! So it might be needless to say that I think you judge the situation in Sweden quite accurately. – When it comes to the Sweden Democrats (SD) however, it has no doubt a background in neo-nazism, but tries – if possible – to wash it clean. SD has gained their fast growing sympathies to a large extent not primarily due to anti-semitism (which exist) but because it is the only political party that has up till recently warned for the consequences of a rapidly growing Muslim immigration and hence growing importance of Islam in Sweden. This is a problem also because there is a widespread tendency among the ethnical Swedes not to recognize themselves as a people its own right, however strange as it may sound. – All the best & kind regards, CAB

  • Ässet

    Liers! Norway was not invaded by swedish railways.

    • Would have been difficult for any railway!But the Swedish railway network was allowed to be used by the Wehrmacht to transport armaments and troops to invade Norway. Sweden justified this and other aid which broke their neutrality by also aiding the allies and Jews fleeing Norway and Denmark.This is history, sorry.

  • Mickey Oberman

    Sweden is well on the path to being punished for its attitude in WW ll up to the present day.
    It has become the rape capital of the world.
    Crimes of all sorts are rampant.
    Its towns are becoming Islamic centres where non Muslims dare not go.
    It is rapidly being overrun by its Muslim inhabitants who are multiplying like cockroaches.
    It is on its last legs as a Swedish state and will very soon be yet another Islamic satrapy.
    The Swedes will soon vanish from the face of the earth.

  • albert snow

    The author got it totaly wrong. The Sweden Democrates is not a neo-nazi party but a national conservative party, and the most pro-Israel party in the Swedish parliament!!

  • Reform School

    As ‘Elvira Madigan’ demonstrated, Swedish society long ago advanced madness from an art form to a science!

  • Annie

    What can we expect from the country which profited from gold covered by Jewish blood and funded Germany? Get real! These are low lives, rascals and criminals , and must be brought to criminal courts, pay back the looted gold, and be charged with group crimes , international theft and crimes against Humanity for contributing and participating in Holocaust . Where are International Jewish organizations, and what are they waiting for? This is a good time to act. These are blood thirsty evil animals , pagans and immoral fanatics of lowest of the lowest. It is time to speak up!

  • Ephraim

    That’s the thing about antisemites, they think they are coming from a moral point, as do Islamic terrorists. It is a sick definition, but Jew hatred knows no boundaries.

  • steven L

    When a country has no code of ETHICS, it has nothing to defend. Moral relativism is the guiding principle. This is what the Swedish FM demonstrates over and over.

  • Carol Ann

    Excellent! Well written, and the last sentence should be a punch in the gut to Sweden, which quite deservedly is having lots of problems with their its Muslim immigration crisis they’ve allowed to let get out of hand these past few years, so much so, that Sweden’s formerly low rape crime rate has been pushed by its Muslims to be known as the Rape Capital of the West. It has also been said that it is edging closer to collapse due to its Islamic problem. Midda k’neged midda/karma….

  • Andria Switzer

    The Swedish Jews and others in Europe might soon be the real refugees. Do no Europeans recognize the pattern?

  • Sifter

    Sweden KNOWS there is a security dimension to their anti Israel tirades. They don’t care. WW2 Sweden is gone, history, kaput. Been replaced by a Leftist, Regressivist Uber Socialist Muslim loving cacophony. I imagine they still make good meatballs and porn. Not known for much else.