‘We are concerned about anti-Semitism in Sweden, there’s no doubt’

'We are concerned about anti-Semitism in Sweden, there's no doubt'
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to Holocaust victims. Photo: Owe Nilsson/TT
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven's visit to Israel included attending a major event to commemorate victims of the Holocaust, but also discussing concerns about anti-Semitism in Sweden today.

“Swedish Jews worry about anti-Semitism and do not feel completely comfortable showing publicly that they are Jews,” Jonathan Greenblatt, head of the Jewish non-profit Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told TT.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven met with Jewish organizations on Thursday in connection with his participation in an international Holocaust memorial ceremony at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

During the meeting, Greenblatt also addressed the EU's latest report on the situation of Jews in Europe.

The report showed that nine out of ten Swedish Jews believe the problem of anti-Semitism has worsened. Sweden is one of the countries where Jewish residents have least confidence in the government's efforts to fight anti-Semitism and its ability to meet the needs of the Jewish communities for protection, according to the report.

A total of 81 percent of Swedes who responded to the survey said they don't believe the government is fighting anti-Semitism effectively.

“We are concerned about anti-Semitism, there is no doubt, but Greenblatt also said Sweden is the country with the lowest proportion of hostile attitudes towards Jews,” Stefan Löfven told TT.

“But there is a problem in Muslim congregations, where the proportion is higher. And it is clear that if you come from a country where [anti-Semitism] might be part of the state propaganda and where children learn that in school, then that's what happens and it is our duty to fight it.”

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Jonathan Greenblatt also highlighted that Sweden is one of the main financiers of the UN agency UNRWA, which uses Palestinian textbooks in Gaza and the West Bank that contain anti-Semitic ideas.

“Anti-Semitic and violent content is still in the latest official textbooks from the Palestinian Authority (PA) used by UNRWA. We urge all those who financially support PA and UNRWA to make it clear that this material is unacceptable and must be changed without delay,” he said.

Löfven agreed, saying: “It isn't acceptable to support something which incites violence or is anti-Semitic. That's exactly why the EU is currently reviewing these textbooks. A German institute is doing this, in order to meet the correct standard, and Greenblatt thought it was good that this was now being done, but he was also clear than the UNRWA is needed.”

Löfven said that the ADL and other Jewish organizations were positive about the international Holocaust conference that the Swedish government is arranging this autumn with heads of state and government from some 50 countries, as well as a number of organizations.

“What they think is particularly good is the arrangement, that it is not just about speaking and getting a declaration. We already have the Stockholm Declaration from 2000. Now we have to make commitments, for all countries to outline how they intend to fight anti-Semitism,” he said.


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