Sweden's Tilt Toward the Palestinians

Pushing off peace.

swThe newly elected Swedish government of Prime Minister Stefan Lofven began its term with a clear pro-Palestinian tilt. In his inaugural speech on October 3, 2014, PM Lofven declared that his left-center Social-Democrat party led government would recognize the state of Palestine. “The conflict between Israel and Palestine can only be solved with a two-state solution, negotiated in accordance with international law. The two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to co-exist peacefully. Sweden will therefore recognize the state of Palestine.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the Swedish government’s statement the following day saying that “Unilateral steps would not advance peace, but would, rather, push it off.”

The US was also unhappy with the unilateral Swedish move. US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki called international recognition of a Palestinian state “premature,” and said, “We believe that the process is one that has to be worked out through the parties to agree on the terms of how they will live in the future of two states living side-by-side.”

Responding to the Swedish Prime Minister’s announcement, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman wrote an exclusive Op Ed in the Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter. “This announcement” Lieberman wrote, “was not intended to serve as a genuine solution to a foreign problem. It was intended, so it seems, to placate a certain sector in Swedish public opinion. It is to be regretted when internal considerations determine a counterproductive and irresponsible foreign policy.”

Lieberman added, “With the entire Middle East aflame, not to mention other regions in the world experiencing strife and instability, the undue focus on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict runs counter to all logic. Beyond reflecting internal matters, it seems that this focus serves to compensate for the many failings that the organized international community has encountered in attempting to resolve the many complex problems on the global agenda. For some reason, five words are spoken of time and again as both an imperative and as a magical solution to many other problems in the region: resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Lieberman went on to say, “In recent years the Middle East has been swept by an ocean of violence and bloodshed, none of which has anything to do with Israel or the Palestinians. Three years of civil war in Syria have seen over 200,000 Syrians lose their lives. Iraq is on the verge of disintegration and since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, has witnessed over 130,000 Iraqi citizens killed. Libya has already broken apart, its revolution resulting in some 15,000 Libyan killed. In Darfur, some 400,000 people have been killed since 2003, and since the eruption of civil war in South Sudan in 2013, some 10,000 people have lost their lives.”

Clearly showing the hypocrisy of the Swedish government policy toward Israel, FM Lieberman continued, “Since (President) Hassan Rouhani’s assumption of office, over 800 Iranians have been executed by the Iranian regime, including journalists, poets, intellectuals and women accused of ‘immodesty.’ Where is Sweden’s outrage? Where is the call for an urgent solution to this burning matter? In addition, as the world has witnessed all too vividly in recent weeks, fanatic (Muslim) terrorist organizations such ISIS (now called Islamic State-IS), Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Hamas have been committing countless atrocities, some of them even aspiring to acquire weapons of mass destruction.”

Lieberman questioned why the new Swedish Prime Minister chose to ignore these developments and chose instead to hone in on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He called it not merely a matter of “imbalance,” but a matter of fundamental “unfairness.” Lieberman attacked the hypocrisy of the loud European (and Swedish) voices protesting “disproportionality” regarding Palestinian casualties in Gaza, when the Palestinians themselves initiated the violence against Israel and its civilians. Lieberman undoubtedly raged in his mind over the Swedish obsession with blaming Israel “when much of the world around us is blazing.”

In concluding his Op Ed piece in the Swedish Dagens Nyheter, Lieberman wrote: “Friendly governments do not act so as to undermine the national security of their friends, and do not presume to know better than their friends how they should contend with the many challenges they face. The Swedish government would do well to rethink its intention to act in this way towards its friend Israel. In doing so, it will not only correct an unfortunate error, it will contribute to the promotion of an agreed upon settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

To understand why Sweden is tilting toward the Palestinians, it is important to note that the problem today is not with traditional anti-Semitism, but rather a new kind of hate, which is derived primarily from the failure to distinguish between Israel, Zionism, and the local Jewish communities, when it comes to political discourse. In fact, anti-Zionism has morphed into anti-Semitism. Moreover, the existence of a large Muslim immigrant community in Sweden, mostly from North Africa and the Middle East is certainly a major factor. Particularly, since the Social Democratic party in Sweden has co-opted the Muslim vote, and anti-Israel announcements resonate well with the Muslim constituency.

In Malmo, Sweden, a recent Israeli-Swedish Tennis match had to be played behind closed doors for fear of Arab and Muslim rioters engaging in violence. In Malmo, where Muslims account for more than 20% of the population, Jews and Israelis are unwelcome, and are threatened with violence. The Swedish government is either intimidated or reluctant to implement the rule of law. The Mayor of Malmo stated recently that Malmo “does not accept Zionism,” and that Swedish Jews can avoid anti-Semitism by publicly opposing the occupation of the West Bank. The left-wing Swedish media, especially the printed press from mainstream Social-Democrat to the Marxist and Communist fringe, are rabidly anti-Israel.

On a recent trip to Stockholm, Sweden, this writer heard from local Jews, especially young people, about their intent to leave Sweden for either Israel or America. The reason given was anti-Semitism. They feel besieged by the increasingly violent and hateful Arab-Muslim community and the reluctance of the Swedish authorities to enforce the law. Sweden has become known as the rape capital of the world, but you would not know that from the Swedish press. The rapes are committed almost exclusively by Muslims. Hosted by Kurdish Muslims in the city, this writer witnessed Swedish authorities’ fear of confronting Muslims, who live in segregated ghettos where no Swedish police can enter.

Former Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Zvi Mazal, pointed out that “as far as Swedes are concerned, Israel is always guilty. It does not matter to them that Israel is being attacked by Hezbollah and Hamas, or that the Palestinian Authority has failed to comply with the Oslo Agreement. Also, Swedes, like other Europeans, feel guilty towards the Third World because of the colonial past. The alliance between radical Islam and the Swedish Marxist left, figures in Sweden’s policy toward Israel. According to Mazal, the Swedish PM’s statement was prompted by an influx of a large Arab minority into Sweden this year.

According to the Times of Israel, the New Leftist Swedish government Housing Minister, Mehmet Kaplan, of Sweden’s Green Party, was arrested in 2010 by Israeli forces as a participant in the Mavi Marmara flotilla, which was headed to the Gaza Strip. The Turkish born Swedish MP was later deported from Israel. Sweden’s new Education Minister Gustav Fridolin, was detained by Israeli forces in 2004 for protesting Israel’s security barrier near Ramallah.

With such characters in the Swedish government, is there any wonder as to why Sweden is tilting toward the Palestinians?

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