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Jews in Sweden under increasing threat

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17:44 CET+01:00
Police in Sweden are on heightened alert following a spike in anti-Semitic attacks around the country in the wake of Israel’s campaign against Gaza-based Hamas militants.

A wooden staircase at a Jewish center in Helsingborg in southern Sweden was set alight twice in three days in the past week in a blaze police suspect was caused by flammable liquid spread over the stairs, according to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Technicians continue to examine the scene to determine the exact cause of the fire.

And late Sunday night the Israeli embassy in Stockholm was covered with graffiti proclaiming, “Crush Israel, you broke the ceasefire!” and included other proclamations such as “Die!” and “Murderers”.

Another embassy wall was also emblazoned with a graphic likening the Star of David to a swastika – something which has also been found at other locations around Sweden.

“What’s happening in the Middle East, and especially in Israel, always has repercussions for Jewish congregations in Europe. We also see it in Sweden,” said a source from the security department at the Jewish congregation in Stockholm to SvD.

The source told of other threats against members of Jewish congregations, including cases of graffiti, as well as an arson attack at a Jewish burial chapel in Malmö which occurred late on Sunday night.

“A door burned down and there was soot and smoke damage, but the object which burned extinguished itself,” said the source.

Anti-Semitic statements have also increased on blogs and internet forums.

“Legitimate criticism of the Israeli military and the attack against Palestinian civilians is mixed with anti-Semitic clichés and that’s where we end up with a mish-mash seen in commentaries and on blogs,” freelance writer and Swedish Committee against Anti-Semitism activist Jonathan Leman told SvD.

A similar rise in anti-Semitic opinions posted on blogs and internet forums occurred back in 2006 following Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, he said.

In Stockholm, police plan to increase surveillance around the offices of the Jewish congregation as well as the Israeli embassy.

“Of course congregation members are worried,” said the Jewish congregation source to SvD.

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