“This is not something she has decided hastily. She has wanted to visit for a long time,” said Julia Janiec, chief of staff at the Malmö mayor’s office to local paper Sydsvenskan.
According to the paper, US president Barack Obama persuaded Rosenthal to take on the role as his representative in the fight against anti-Semitism in November.
Rosenthal, whose father was a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, has already provoked the Israeli government on a number of occasions by pointing out the difference between anti-Semitism and justified criticism against the state of Israel.
Spokesperson for the US embassy in Stockholm, Chris Dunnett, told the paper that Rosenthal has been following events in Malmö for some time and wants to make sure that there are no politicians in the area that encourage anti-Semitism, discrimination, and racism.
While in Sweden, Rosenthal will also meet with representatives from organizations such as Malmö mot diskriminering (‘Malmö against discrimination’) and ECCAR – the European Coalition of Cities against Racism, to which Malmö belongs.
Björn Lagerbäck, who works with an initiative by the city to combat racism and intolerance, told Sydsvenskan that the Americans want to stay informed about what Malmö is doing to combat the problems in the area.
“Anti-Semitism has existed since the beginning of time. There is every reason to look at what is going on today. We are all responsible,” Lagerbäck told the paper.
Malmö mayor Reepalu has been likened by some observers to British ex-mayor Ken Livingstone for his habit to put his foot in his mouth.
His recent statements in right-leaning magazine NEO that the Jewish community in Malmö had been infiltrated by the Sweden Democrats ruffled a lot of feathers in Sweden and abroad.
Reepalu has recanted his comments completely and is making every effort to reconcile with the local Jewish community.
Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan, has noted his efforts but recently said that he is hoping to see more hands-on approach to sorting out the troubles in the area, according to Sydsvenskan.