On July 7, 2014 a man was chased by several other men with iron rods and knives after having his window shattered, because he hung an Israeli flag outside his kitchen window. The assailants got hold of the man and beat him. This happened not in East Jerusalem, Amman or Jenin. It happened in the Swedish town of Malmo.
Supporting the only democracy in the Middle East has become dangerous in Malmo. But this has not happened suddenly. Slowly the hatred of Israel has been legitimized. Malmö is the city where Israel in 2009 had to play a Davis Cup match against Sweden before empty stands, since 6000 people demonstrated against the Israeli tennis players’ presence in the city. Many politicians from the governing majority of the city council of Malmo, consisting of Social Democrats, the Left Party and the Green Party, participated in the demonstration. The demonstration was followed by riots in which eight people were arrested.
Malmo is also the town where the city’s Social Democratic mayor in 2010 compared Zionism with anti-Semitism and called on the city’s Jews to distance themselves from “Israel’s violations of the civilian population in Gaza.” It was not Saddam Hussein. It was not Iraq. It was a Swedish social democratic politician in Malmo who thought that Jewish support for the State of Israel is one of the causes of the rising anti-Semitism in Malmo.
When Eurovision was held in Malmö in 2013 the Chairman of Malmo’s cultural committee started a political circus when he and his followers protested against Israel’s participation in the Eurovision. At the same time there were no protests against Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship, who also participated in the Eurovision 2013.
Hatred of Israel has been built over a long time and the majority that governs Malmo have been involved and legitimized this hatred. After the beating took place on 7 July social media exploded with joy from Malmo residents who wrote comments like “it warms my heart,” “they gave him a ride to the hospital, we’ll give him a ride to the funeral, inshallah,” and “I get tears of joy.” People were supporting the beating while as they put up pictures of Adolf Hitler.
While some Swedish politicians criticize Israel because Israel defends itself against terrorists, the same Swedish politicians are silent in the face of barbarism in Malmo, where anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel has been fused together into a hate-filled rhetoric, where violence is celebrated.
We the members of the organization Perspective on Israel regret the development in Malmo. We believe that the Israeli flag will not be visible in the streets of Malmo for a very long time after the last beating. Openly displayed Jewish symbols will unfortunately continue to be a rare sight in the city. But we hope that people around the world begin to pay attention to the terrible situation in Malmo and act through social media. The day after the beating we both put up Israeli flags on our social media accounts. This is something that you also can do. It is easy to set up an Israeli flag and write # support_israel_in_malmo or other appropriate hashtags. More people need to pay attention to what is happening in Malmö. A man does not deserve to be savagely attacked with iron rods and glass bottles just because he supports Israel. This is something Malmo’s ruling politicians who have legitimized hatred of Israel do not understand. But we know that there are people around the world who know better.
About the Author: Nima Gholam Ali Pour is a political commentator in Sweden and has a master's degree in International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER). Tobias Petersson is a Swedish freelance writer and has focused on Israel and the MENA region. They are the spokespersons for Perspective on Israel, a grass root NGO, founded in 2013 to counteract the negative, distorted image of Israel that is spread in the Swedish media and in political parties.
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