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Gothenburg rabbi reacts to death threats

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Gothenburg rabbi reacts to death threats
Rabbi Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli. Photo: Private
15:31 CET+01:00
Gothenburg's rabbi received death threats following an attack on a synagogue in Jerusalem earlier this week. Leading figures in the Jewish community have told The Local they fear that anti-Semitism is spreading across Sweden, with Malmö already a key target.
Rabbi Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli got an email on Wednesday referencing the violent attack in Jerusalem that left four Israeli Jews and a police officer dead.
 
"What a wonderful day! Four of your satanic murderers were taken from the world, how wonderful! But what a pity that you weren't among them," the message read.
 
"But soon will come the time when the Gothenburg synagogue will be destroyed to the ground with you inside, and then you too, you pig, will be killed in the eternal fire," it added.
 
Speaking to The Local on Friday, Rabbi Hillel Ḥayyim Lavery-Yisraëli said:
 
"I was very surprised and worried for my family. I can say I did not expect this when I moved to Sweden".
 
The rabbi was born in Canada and moved to Israel when he was 19. He arrived in Sweden two years ago.
 
"When I came here I felt very proud that I walked around in Gothenburg with my head covering, without any fear or trouble. But in the last year or so things have started to change. I still do it because I think it is important that Swedes get used to seeing people who are different, but I do feel kind of nervous".
 
Police in Gothenburg are investigating the email sent to the rabbi.
 

Malmö has the largest Jewish community in Sweden. Photo: TT
 
The death threats follow rising numbers of attacks against Jews in Stockholm and Malmö in southern Sweden in recent months.
 
"Many religious communities are experiencing a deteriorating social climate, and the Jewish community feel that anti-Semitism has increased," Göran Larsson, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Gothenburg told Swedish newspaper Göteborgs-Posten on Thursday.
 
"We live in a time when global events, such as the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict have consequences for different religious communities in Sweden," he added.
 
Speaking to The Local, Lena Posner-Korosi who is President of the Council of Sweden's Jewish communities said:
 
"The attack on the rabbi is appalling and at the same time we are not surprised and this is the terrible part of all this. For years we have experienced this kind of thing in Malmö and now it has spread to Gothenburg."
 
She said that Jews in all of Sweden's major cities had now experienced threats, either by phone, letter, email or in person and said she was especially concerned about attacks on Jewish cultural centres and synagogues.
 
"Compared to other parts of Europe we are in the highest league when it comes to anti-Semitism and this this is not a competition we want to win," she added.
 
Posner-Korosi said she was satisfied that police in Sweden were investigating all the incidents but said that officers had sometimes been too quick to rule out the possibility that some of them were hate crimes.
 
"Often they say that young trouble-makers are behind the violence. It can be hard to tell what the motive is but we can't rule out the possibility that some of these are hate crimes."
 
She added: "It has reached a point in Malmö where Jews are afraid on a daily basis. In other cities we don't feel this every day but we are starting to".
 
Martin Hallberg Chief Inspector for Gothenburg told The Local:
 
"I cannot discuss individual investigations but the city's police force is always out on patrol and we are working closely with the Jewish community. We meet and discuss problems. I watch the news to make sure I know what is going on in the world and when I find out about violence in the middle east I call people in the Jewish community".
 
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