‘No Similarity Between Antisemitism and BDS,’ New Swedish Foreign Minister Tells Pro-Israel Legislator
Sweden’s new foreign minister has reiterated her support for Israel’s right to exist following a sharp exchange with a lawmaker in parliament last week, during which she insisted that the campaign to subject the Jewish state to a comprehensive boycott was not antisemitic.
In a television interview on Monday, Ann Linde — who was appointed Swedish foreign minister on Sept. 10 following the resignation of her predecessor Margot Wallstrom — said that her country affirmed its support for Israel’s “security needs,” emphasizing that the country’s “right to exist is not debatable in any way.” This position did not contradict the view that “the [Israeli] occupation, which is in violation of UN resolutions, must end and the Palestinians must be given their rights to live in recognized borders,” Linde added.
But in a parliamentary debate last week, Linde pointedly shielded the movement to impose boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel from the accusation that it is antisemitic. The BDS campaign advocates the replacement of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state with a single Arab state of Palestine, and denies that the Jewish people has a historic right to national self-determination.
“This government does not place an equals sign between ‘antisemitism’ and ‘BDS’,” Linde told pro-Israel legislator Lars Adaktusson last Thursday.
Adaktusson, who represents the center-right Christian Democrats, had pressed both Linde and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven to follow the examples of legislatures in Germany, the US and other countries in recognizing the antisemitic nature of the BDS campaign.
Recalling that German parliamentarians had compared the BDS movement with the infamous Nazi slogan “Don’t Buy from Jews!”, Adaktusson asked the government to specify the measures it was taking to counteract antisemitism from the BDS movement.
“The BDS movement wants to fight the existence of the Jewish state,” Adaktusson declared. “That is antisemitism.”
Linde responded that while the Swedish government did not support the boycott of Israel, it also saw “no similarity between antisemitism and BDS.”
Continued the foreign minister: “To advocate boycotts of Israel peacefully with a view to ending the occupation is not antisemitism.”
Adaktusson retorted that the Middle East had become “a center for the mass production of anti-Jewish propaganda,” citing the common aim of the Islamist regime in Iran and the Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups to wipe Israel off the map.
“What the government is doing against antisemitism is of great importance,” Adaktusson remarked. “What the government does not do against antisemitism also has major consequences, for us here in Sweden, and for the outside world.”