Jewish group slams Sweden conference

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre, an anti-Semitism awareness group, on Wednesday slammed Sweden's plans to host an international aid conference for Lebanon as "discriminatory", saying the meeting should also address the needs of Israeli victims of the conflict.

“What we’re suggesting is that the point of reference for the conference be expanded to treat all victims and the two parties involved in the conflict,” the centre’s head of international relations Shimon Samuels told AFP.

The centre on Wednesday sent a letter to Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson asking him to change the focus of the August 31 meeting.

The conference has been called to coordinate humanitarian assistance and immediate reconstruction of war-torn Lebanon, and will be organised in collaboration with the Lebanese government and the United Nations, according to the Swedish foreign ministry.

“What we’re asking for is even-handedness … We think the conference should be multilateral,” Samuels said, stressing “Sweden’s tradition of neutrality.”

A statement issued by the Wiesenthal Centre accused the Swedish government of “exclusion and discrimination”.

“Sixty countries, aid agencies and NGOs have been invited to Stockholm on August 31 – but apparently not the state of Israel, nor concerned Jewish NGOs accredited to the United Nations, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Centre,” it said.