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April 21, 2016 1:59 pm

‘Jew Issue Merely Icing on Very Crappy Cake,’ Says Swedish Activist in Wake of Minister’s Resignation Over Antisemitic Remarks (INTERVIEW)

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A synagogue in Sweden. Photo: Annika Hernroth-Rothstein.

The Adat Jeschurun synagogue in Stockholm. Photo: Annika Hernroth-Rothstein.

Amid recent scandals involving the public expression of antisemitic and anti-Israel views in Sweden, most recently surrounding the forced resignation of the housing minister and subsequent comments of support from Deputy Prime Minister Åsa Romson, a Stockholm-based Jewish journalist and political analyst told The Algemeiner about the significance of the events.

Annika Hernroth-Rothstein said that the ouster of Mehmet Kaplan – a member of the Green Party with revealed ties to Islamist groups – did not signify a shift in Swedish attitudes towards antisemitism. She was referring to statement Kaplan made in a 2009 interview, recently released by the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, that “Israelis treat Palestinians in a way that is very like that in which Jews were treated during Germany in the 1930s.”

On the contrary, Hernroth-Rothstein said, this particular issue “reached a critical point after a number of events that happened over the course of a five-year period: Kaplan got arrested by Israeli police during a ‘Free Gaza’ flotilla raid; worked with the Muslim Brotherhood; supported [Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip] Erdogan; befriended the [Turkish neo-fascist organization] the Grey Wolves; and then topped it all off by comparing Israelis to Nazis. He eventually became a political liability, but I would say it was his friendship with the Grey Wolves and Erdogan that cost him his job; the Jew issue was merely the icing on a very crappy cake.”

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Hernroth-Rothstein said the unwitting outcome of the “big shocker” – that Kaplan is from the environmentalist party, not the Social Democrats, who usually make antisemitic comments and promote anti-Zionist policies — is that it is causing the Swedish media to look more closely at the Green’s ties to Muslim extremism.” This, she said, “will no doubt bolster the Sweden Democrats’ numbers and create a re-shuffle in Swedish politics.”

Hernroth-Rothstein’s remarks came on the heels of a Facebook post she uploaded this week, bemoaning the antisemtism suffered by one her two young boys. It reads:

So I’m feeling tired. Really tired and sad. When my son came home today to tell me that a classmate had said “someone should throw that f—–g Jew in an oven and burn him”, he wasn’t angry, bur rather resigned. It’s not the first time, right? Nor will it be the last.

I work really hard every day to give my children a strong Jewish identity here, in the Galut [Diaspora]. I am not here because I want to but because right now, I have to, and those who know me know that I have made many difficult decisions and personal sacrifices in order to assure that my family’s Jewish lineage lives on and that we stay observant despite the hostile surroundings.

I am a single mother raising Jewish boys and I am so very tired. I am tired because every time this happens, every time someone calls my child a “dirty Jew” or makes them feel like less than human because of who they are and what they are it takes something from them and from the strength and values I am working so hard to instill in them.

How do I do this? How do I live in a remote place and provide my children with Jewish education, Jewish pride and faith and most importantly – how do I counteract this society that keeps telling them to be less (and ultimately nothing) of what they are. Less Jewish, less annoying, less in the way of the “ordinary” world.

My son is resigned and he is sad and that makes me sad and tired, too. As a parent, we sacrifice so that our children may reap the rewards. We do so they won’t have to, we hurt so they may heal. But tonight as I hang up the phone with the principal, the parents, the teachers and the counselor I wonder if I may be losing the fight and getting lost on my way from mitzrayim [Egypt].

Tomorrow there will be meetings, a lot of nodding and assurances that “bullying” is unacceptable in a Swedish school. However, this is not bullying, this is a hate crime that has been trivialized so many times that it starts to sound like boyish banter. Nothing will come of these meetings, and I know this because I have been to so many of them before. They will say the right words and commit the wrong acts and then it is up to us to stay standing.

I pray we get angry soon. But for now, I’m just really really tired.

Hernroth-Rothstein is a political activist, well-known, among other things, for filing for refugee status and asylum in her own country in November of 2013, to make a statement about the treatment of Jews. But what of the others in her community whose voices are not heard? Are most of Sweden’s 15,000 Jews contemplating immigration to Israel?

“There is talk of aliyah among the younger congregants in my synagogue,” she told The Algemeiner. “And after the attacks in Denmark and Paris, there was a palpable push. I would say most, however, are attempting to make a life in Sweden and are happy to do so. Most have very old roots here, and the idea of leaving and uprooting is very difficult and far from many of their minds.”

The issue of remaining in Sweden or immigrating to the Jewish state is one Hernroth-Rothstein has both contemplated and been asked about, particularly during her many visits to Israel. Her position is one she articulated in an article in Mosaic magazine about her reasons for requesting asylum in her own country: “No matter how much I believe in and promote the idea of aliyah,” she wrote, “what is happening [to Jews in Sweden] 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.”

Where the future of Jews in Sweden is concerned, Hernroth-Rothstein concluded: “I think the Jewish community here faces the same future as the rest of Jewish Europe, one of either assimilation or aliya, in the long term, and the combination of legal restrictions, political and hostile surroundings will take its toll.”

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  • Sherlock Holmes

    She hits a very important point, what is criminal racism becomes ‘boyish banter’, NOT even bullying. Sounds like the 1930’s!

  • On this 2nd seder night it hurts me to read this very familiar story on antisemitism in Sweden and Europe.I live in Toronto Canada where this is not tolerated,I am fortunate to have never encountered real antisemitism! My children live in a very exclusive environment.Make aliyah or move here.I know easier said than done!Even the longest journey starts with a single step.Good luck

  • Michael E

    Sweden today is a thoroughly anti-Semitic, and Islamophile country. The most revolting thing is that it comes from the top, the “elite”: the journalists and the liberal left.
    I write “elite” in quotation marks as the so-called elite in Sweden nowadays consists mostly of uneducated or people with very little education. Most broadsheet and “public service” journalists lack academic education and come from a 2-year journalist-school, not worth the name school. It’s the same problem with Sweden’s politicians: The prime minister is a welder, the foreign minister, the infamous Margot Wallström, has no education at all. And so on.

    • Sherlock Holmes

      At what point do the ‘liberal left’ become the ‘loony Left’? In many cases ‘media’ has become short for ‘mediocrity’. Education? The UK National Union of Students just elected as its president an Algerian who supports ISIL. She claims those who oppose ISIL are Islamophobes! In fairness many top universities are considering leaving the NUS.

  • Michael

    Sweden today is a thoroughly anti-Semitic, and Islamophile country. The most revolting thing is that it comes from the top, the so-called “elite”: the journalists and the liberal left.
    I write “elite” in quotation marks as the so-called elite in Sweden nowadays consists mostly consist of people with little or no education. Most broadsheet and “public service” journalists lack academic education and come from a 2-year journalist-school, not worthy the name school. It’s the same problem with Sweden’s politicians: The prime minister is a welder, the foreign minister, the infamous Margot Wallström, has no education at all. And so on.
    Education in Sweden today has such a low status that the Swedish Wikipedia most often don’t even contain information about people’s education.

  • Myron Slater

    No Swedish products for me!

  • Carol

    God protect her, her family and give them extra strength for her courage to stand up to this plague. To all of Klal Yisrael the strength and safety, as well.

  • Zucker

    Annika words reminds the sorrow and anguish of Stephan Zweig and Jozef Roth who saw their beloved countries turn against them.
    We have built lives, homes, served and fought for our ” countries”, thought that we were part of the very fabric of communities in europe and america. Now, we realize this was a form of hypocrisy. We were just delusional.
    We have to justify ourselves in academia, we know that sooner or later there is a moment when we have to raise our voice in polite society.
    But…..sooner than later this intolerance will threaten the very foundations of the communities we live in.
    “Something is very rotten in the State of ” …..Sweden and other Kingdoms and Republics.

  • Dave

    Swedish society is losing its way and becoming intolerant and fascist. All minorities there will be in danger.

  • if the jews presently residing in europe are very lucky, they might be granted tourist status eventually. nowhere near as priveleged as moslem immigrant christian charitied status, but then xn charity toward jews has demonstrated its severe limitations long before this… who knows they may even get multiple entry/exit visas (the amount corresponding to the number of centuries their family has lived in a given country. or they could assimilate to the surrounding jewhating culture (what’s left of xndom) and stop looking behind themselves every time they leave the house. and stop apologizing for existing. anywhere. anyhow. anyway.

  • Lia

    Praying for the lady and her children, for Israel, her people and for Mr Netanyahu.

  • Peter Joffe

    Sweden is halfway to being and Islamic State. They have never stood up for what is right and sit back and watch as their world falls about around them. Freedom is not free as it has to be defended but Sweden prefers the passive approach of sitting on the fence and watching the end times come and go. Plus they dare not offend their future masters, Islam.

  • stevenl

    Swedish people moving slowly towards statelessness! Just like the Palestinians.

  • The best asylum for Jewish Europe is Israel. European Jews must execute a successful Aliyah, as soon as possible.

  • anon

    It’s amazing that in this era of extreme political correctness, Swedish schoolchildren and Harvard law students alike feel that it’s open season on Jews.

    I feel so bad for you Annika. I lived in Europe and my son was also the victim of ridiculous anti-semitic remarks from students and teachers. Why can’t they see that Jews deserve the same rights as Muslims, transgendered people, black people, green people, etc.?

  • Ephraim

    Do the Jews have a future in Europe now? Ask those who lived in Germany in early 1933. Did the Jews have a future in Germany then? I think that question was answered as emphatically as any question has ever been answered.

    The handwriting is on the wall in Europe. Radical Islam grows in strength, and they are proud to do everything up to and including murder. Most of the ruling cadre and major parties, in nearly every country is, at best, lukewarm in condemning antisemitism and, at worst, enthusiastic supporters. If the Jews do not leave, there could very well be another Holocaust, G-d forbid. There are too few of us and too many of ‘them.’

    The Islamist movement is hopelessly out of control, as even a handful of European statesmen now see. They are committing more and more acts of terrorism, and I see absolutely nothing which will stop them.

    Nazism was very strong in much of Europe. When the Holocaust was revealed, most of them went underground. However, they did NOT change their minds, they just kept quiet except at home, when educating their children. With the warped, twisted addiction of the left to enthusiastic promoters of genocide, the already existing Nazi beliefs are being recycled as progressive. Fewer and fewer people are willing to take these bigots on. And there are, simply, too few of us. This is obvious from the incredible hate these ‘people’ espouse, which, just a few years ago, would have been universally condemned as neo-Nazism.

    Jews on campuses are bullied, intimidated, harassed, and assaulted. So called ‘liberal’ parties are simply left-wing Nazi groups (see Britain’s Labor Party). The evil just keeps getting stronger, and no one stands up to these savages. Even in the US, long a bastion of relative tolerance, more and more open Nazist views are on display. Just check out blogs such as Discus, if you do not believe me.

    These forces do not have to win, and in the US the majority of the public are still on the side of civilization, but some of this has been eroded, especially on US campuses, where even now a headmaster is facing sanctions for daring to stand up to the BDS bigotry.

    But in Europe, where tolerance is, at best, shallow and recent, except in a very few places, I see absolutely no sign of the tide turning back against the hate.

    Jews in Europe, PLEASE, on this eve of the Exodus, do not be trapped in the next Nazi regime. Come to the US, go to Israel, move to Asia, but get out of Europe while you still can.

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