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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Council of Europe Says Ritual Circumcision Won’t Be Banned

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

The Council of Europe has assured President Shimon Peres that Europe will not ban religious circumcision despite last week’s non-binding resolution of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly that cited circumcision of males as a violation of human rights and equated it with female genital mutilation.

President Peres wrote on Monday to Thorbjorn Jagland, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, to protest the resolution. Although it has no legal significance, the Council is very influential on decisions by the European Union.

Jangland said male circumcision did not violate human rights, and Daniel Holtgen, the Director of Communications at the Council of Europe, sent a tweet quoting Jagland as saying, “Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not.”

The resolution angered Muslims as well as Jews. It called for European states to “promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks of some of these procedures,” which the assembly lists as the circumcision of boys, early childhood interventions in the case of intersexual children and the coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Marlene Rupprecht, the rapporteur behind the resolution, claimed the text did not aim to “stigmatize any religious community or its practices” but simply called for public debate “aimed at reaching a wide consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity.”

While Jagland’s statements were good news for Jews and also for Muslims, it is scary that we are so susceptible to the threat of a ban on circumcision that we have to be grateful to someone deciding to suspend what would be a death sentence to Judaism.

Jews have died rather than accept decrees against circumcision, but today’s trend to use “human rights”  and “animal rights” to disguise campaigns that deprive Jewish rights is more subtle and devious than the open anti-Semitism of the past.

A judge in a German province earlier this year banned circumcision, leading to an uproar that prompted the national parliament to make it clear that ritual circumcision is legal.

The anti-circumcision movement is increasingly popular in Scandinavia, where the influx of Muslims also is a factor behind the campaign to prohibit the religious rite.

Jews and Muslims are constantly threatened with a ban on local slaughtering of animals according to Jewish and Muslim laws, which prohibit the method of stunning before using the knife. There are some leniencies in Muslim law.

The most recent controversy is in Poland, which banned ritual slaughter this year but where Jews now have to be thankful to the Catholic Church for supporting the rights of Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals according to religious laws.

The Polish parliament in July rejected a bill, sponsored by the government, to legalize kosher slaughter, but Pope Francis recently has voiced concern over the ban.

“Animal rights” supporters have successfully campaigned in Sweden, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland to outlaw kosher slaughter.

The European Union’s official policy states, “European Convention for the Protection of Animals for Slaughter” generally requires stunning before slaughter, but allows member states to allow exemptions for religious slaughter.”

Holland two years nearly outlawed kosher slaughter after the Animal Rights Party managed to convince the Lower House of parliament to pass a bill, which was rejected by the Upper House, to ban the practice.

Israel is the only country that comes to mind where Jewish rights still are unquestionably more important than “animals’ rights.”

As for circumcision, the only argument might be over “Metzitzah b’peh.”

‘It Can Be Done’: the Rosh Hashana 1943 Escape of Danish Jews

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

As the final minutes of Rosh Hashanah ticked away, 13-year-old Leo Goldberger was hiding, along with his parents and three brothers, in the thick brush along the shore of Dragor, a small fishing village south of Copenhagen. The year was 1943, and the Goldbergers, like thousands of other Danish Jews, were desperately trying to escape an imminent Nazi roundup.

“Finally, after what seemed like an excruciatingly long wait, we saw our signal offshore,” Goldberger later recalled. His family “strode straight into the ocean and waded through three or four feet of icy water until we were hauled aboard a fishing boat” and covered themselves “with smelly canvases.” Shivering and frightened, but grateful, the Goldberger family soon found itself in the safety and freedom of neighboring Sweden.

For years, Allied leaders had insisted that nothing could be done to rescue Jews from the Nazis except to win the war. But in one extraordinary night, seventy years ago next month, the Danish people exploded that myth and changed history.

When the Nazis occupied Denmark during the Holocaust in 1940, the Danes put up little resistance. As a result, the German authorities agreed to let the Danish government continue functioning with greater autonomy than other occupied countries. They also postponed taking steps against Denmark’s 8,000 Jewish citizens.

In the late summer of 1943, amid rising tensions between the occupation regime and the Danish government, the Nazis declared martial law and decided the time had come to deport Danish Jews to the death camps. But Georg Duckwitz, a German diplomat in Denmark, leaked the information to Danish friends. Duckwitz was later honored by Yad Vashem as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. As word of the Germans’ plans spread, the Danish public responded with a spontaneous nationwide grassroots effort to help the Jews.

The Danes’ remarkable response gave rise to the legend that King Christian X himself rode through the streets of Copenhagen on horseback, wearing a yellow Star of David, and that the citizens of the city likewise donned the star in solidarity with the Jews.

The story may have had its origins in a political cartoon that appeared in a Swedish newspaper in 1942. It showed King Christian pointing to a Star of David and declaring that if the Nazis imposed it upon the Jews of Demark, “then we must all wear the star.” Leon Uris’s novel Exodus, and the movie based on that book, helped spread the legend. But subsequent investigations by historians have concluded that the story is a myth.

On Rosh Hashanah – which fell on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in 1943 – and the days that followed, numerous Danish Christian families hid Jews in their homes or farms, and then smuggled them to the seashore late at night. From there, fishermen took them across the Kattegat Straits to neighboring Sweden.

The three-week operation had the strong support of Danish church leaders, who used their pulpits to urge aid to the Jews, as well as Danish universities, which shut down so that students could assist the smugglers. More than 7,000 Danish Jews reached Sweden and were sheltered there until the end of the war.

Esther Finkler, a young newlywed, was hidden, together with her husband and their mothers, in a greenhouse.

“At night, we saw the [German] searchlights sweeping back and forth throughout the neighborhood” as the Nazis hunted for Jews, Esther later recalled. One evening, a member of the Danish Underground arrived and drove the four “through streets saturated with Nazi stormtroopers” to a point near the shore.

There they hid in an underground shelter, and then in the attic of a bakery, until finally they were brought to a beach, where they boarded a small fishing vessel together with other Jewish refugees.

“There were nine of us, lying down on the deck or the floor,” Esther said. “The captain covered us with fishing nets. When everyone had been properly concealed, the fishermen started the boat, and as the motor started to run, so did my pent-up tears.”

Then, suddenly, trouble. “The captain began to sing and whistle nonchalantly, which puzzled us. Soon we heard him shouting in German toward a passing Nazi patrol boat: ‘Wollen sie einen beer haben?’ (Would you like a beer?) – a clever gimmick designed to avoid the Germans’ suspicions. After three tense hours at sea, we heard shouting: ‘Get up! Get up! And welcome to Sweden!’ It was hard to believe, but we were now safe. We cried and the Swedes cried with us as they escorted as ashore. The nightmare was over,” Esther recalled.

Denmark, Finland Upgrade Palestinian Diplomatic Missions

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Denmark and Finland have jumped on the bandwagon of pro-Palestinian Authority countries to update their Palestinian diplomatic missions to embassy status.

The countries made a joint announcement Saturday on the sidelines of a meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Stockholm.

“We hope that the intention to give, for all practical purposes, the Palestinian Missions in our capitals conditions for work identical to those of an embassy will encourage [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas to engage with determination in the necessary negotiations with the Israeli government on a two-state solution,” the Danish and Finnish foreign ministers, Villy Sovndal and Erkki Tuomioja, said in a statement.

The updated status will take effect by the end of this year.

Sweden’s parliament upgraded the status of the Palestinian mission in Stockholm to an embassy in March.

IKEA Pulls Ad from Swedish Anti-Semitic blog

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

IKEA is investigating how its online advertisement banner came to be placed on a Swedish anti-Semitic blog, a spokesperson for the furniture giant said. IKEA has two stores in Israel.

Aftonbladet found ads for several companies, including IKEA and Western Union, on a Swedish blog called the “Gothic team,” which features anti-Semitic and other racist texts. It recently featured an interview with a leader of a Swedish Nazi movement. In another article, Jewish-Swedish journalist Anita Goldman is described as “a super Jewess” who promotes “ideas that will benefit the Jewish elite clan’s own purposes and achievements” with “ethno-centric chauvinism that shines like the cold steel of a camp guard.”

“We have stopped all advertising for this package pending an investigation into what happened,” Sara Paulsson, a press officer for the Swedish home design and furniture giant told the local daily Aftonbladet on Saturday.

Paulsson said the company purchased “advertisement packages” from a third party, which provides placement. The ads for IKEA and the other companies have been removed from the blog.

What Happened to Sweden?

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Just as Raoul Wallenberg remains as an example of courage, Sweden’s Mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu, a Social Democrat who has held the office for 17 years, does not.

Last October, around 300 people assembled in Raoul Wallenberg Square in Malmo, to join in solidarity the few Jews of Malmo, now numbering about 600, whose community center had just suffered an explosion, and whose cemetery had just been desecrated by antisemitic graffiti. At the same time as this demonstration, on the other side of Malmo, a celebration was taking place to commemorate the birth of Raoul Wallenberg, who, in Hungary in1944, saved thousands of Jews, from being sent to their death in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. From July 9, 1944 until his arrest by the Soviet army on January 17, 1945 at the age of 32, Wallenberg issued “protective passports” to thousands of Jews and rented 32 buildings, which he declared diplomatic facilities. He used diplomacy, bribery and blackmail to provide Jews with immunity from arrest. He persuaded General Schmidthuber, the Commander of the German Army in Hungary, to cancel Adolf Eichmann’s plan to attack the Jewish ghetto and slaughter the 70,000 Jews there. About 120,000 Jews survived in Hungary alone as a result of Wallenberg’s efforts.

The courage of Wallenberg is disappointingly absent in Sweden today. Once a moral superpower, Sweden cannot now claim to be seen as even an open or tolerant place. Instead, it has become a haven for antisemitic behavior, as well as anti-Israel activity, by both Muslim activists and various political groups. Members of the Swedish parliament have attended supposedly “anti-Israel” rallies, which quickly descended into occasions for competitive antisemitic rhetoric.

Jews are being “harassed and physically attacked,” by “people from the Middle East,” according to Malmo resident, Fredrik Sieradzik, in an interview with the Austrian paper, Die Presse. “Malmo,” he said, “is a place to move away from.”

Sweden is now a country where orthodox Jews are afraid to wear a skullcap, and where the largest tabloid paper,Aftonbladet, libelously claimed, in an August 2009 article, that Israeli soldiers were taking the organs of dead Palestinians. When the city of Malmo in 2009 hosted a tennis match between Sweden and Israel, no spectators were allowed for “reasons of security.”

The individual most conspicuous in the denial of this reality is the mayor of Malmo, Ilmar Reepalu,. This reality consists of attacks on Jews in a city where the Jewish population has been reduced from 2,000 to about 600; where Molotov cocktails are thrown at Jewish funeral chapels, and antisemitic graffiti is scrawled throughout the town. The mayor nevertheless denies the increase in antisemitism there. When he does allude to the subject, he argues that the violence comes from right wing extremists, not from Muslims who now make up a considerable part of his Malmo population.

Reepalu asserts that “We accept neither Zionism nor antisemitism. They are extremes that put themselves above other groups, and believe they have a lower value.” Of the small Malmo Jewish community, he says: “I would wish for the Jewish community to denounce Israeli violations against the civilian population of Gaza. Instead, it decides to hold a demonstration [in reality a pro-peace rally] which could send the wrong signals.” Reepalu speaks of Israeli “genocide” in Gaza.

Reepalu, as is common with people in other countries in Europe in their fails to consider that government, laws and human rights partly exists to protect the minority from the majority. He blames the local Jews’ use of free speech and freedom of assembly for attacks on them: If only the Jews would stop speaking and gathering peacefully, the distorted logic goes, no one would be attacking them. Historically, the opposite is true: even when Jews remained quiet, and spent years in hiding, as many often did, the only acceptable form of behavior, apparently, was not to exist.

After years of unremitting antisemitic activity in Malmo, many Jews have either left or are thinking of leaving, largely for Stockholm, England or Israel. Reepalu’s comment was : “There have not been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo.” From time to time the mayor has claimed that his views were misrepresented, but the full recordings, published on the website of the paperSkanska Dagbladet, make clear that they were not.

Rising Anti-Jewish Violence in France and Sweden: Is Israel to Blame?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

A wave of anti-Jewish violence has taken place in France and Sweden over the past few weeks. The difference in government response is notable, and yet there is something similarly disquieting about their actions.

The Swedish government alternately denies the problem, blames the Jews and blames Israel — it recently funded a book on Israeli “apartheid.” The French are more complicated. French counter-terror police have been good at tracking domestic radical Islamists, but the government has made overtly anti-Israel gestures that appear to be nothing so much as “compensation” to its increasingly angry and radical Muslim community and to the Arab world.

For the 600 Jews of Malmo, living alongside 60,000 Muslims, Jewish life has been difficult for years, with harassment of individuals and vandalism of the cemetery and synagogue. What makes it harder is a city administration that believes the Jews are asking for it.

In a 2010 interview, Mayor Ilmar Reepalu told Skanska Dagbladet, [Jews] “have the possibility to affect the way they are seen by society,” urging the community to “distance itself” from Israel. “Instead, the community chose to hold a pro-Israel demonstration,” he said, adding that such a move “may convey the wrong message to others.” He said, “There haven’t been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmo.”

Presented with information that Jews had, indeed, been attacked in Malmo, the mayor retreated just a step and said, “We accept neither Zionism nor anti-Semitism or other forms of ethnic discrimination.” Zionism thus defined becomes the reason people in Malmo attack Jews — who should be distancing themselves from “ethnic discrimination” rather than supporting Israel, according to Repaalu.

This may be why the Jewish community in Malmo, not the government, pays nearly all the cost of its own protection. The Simon Weisenthal Center called it a “Jew tax.” Even then, according to the community president, Swedish authorities twice refused permission to install security cameras outside the Jewish community building, home to a kindergarten, meeting rooms and Chabad apartments, because it is a “quiet street.” After the latest brick and firebomb attack on the Jewish Center, police spokesman Anders Lindell told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “The suspects (two 18-year old men) never said or indicated they were perpetrating a hate crime,” which was good enough for him, so he charged them simply as criminal vandals. Only after an angry international response, including from the U.S., were the charges upgraded.

France at first glance would seem different.

The French government responded quickly and firmly to an attack on a kosher market in Sarcelles, a Paris suburb, with raids in Strasbourg, Paris, Nice and Cannes. President François Hollande said the government would introduce bills for stronger counter-terrorism measures, including allowing police to access Internet communications. He added that places of worship would receive increased surveillance and protection, “because secularism, one of France’s fundamental principles, directs the state to protect all religions.”

On the other hand, Hollande also visited the head of the French Muslim Council, to reassure him there would be no “scapegoating” of the Muslim community. “French Muslims must not suffer from radical Islam. They are also victims,” he said, channeling his predecessor. After a rabbi and two children were killed at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March, then-President Sarkozy announced that both Jewish and Muslim schools would receive protection, saying, “I have brought the Jewish and Muslim communities together to show that terrorism will not manage to break our nation’s feeling of community… We must not cede to discrimination or vengeance.”

No one called for discrimination or vengeance against Muslims and there were no discernible acts of either. But last week’s series of raids by French police points to a broad and wide effort by Muslims across France to build a network, create an arsenal and attract recruits. At some point, the French government will have to acknowledge two things: that the purpose is to attack French Jews; and that there is no “Muslim community” that sits apart from its own radical elements. It is the sea in which the radicals swim – to paraphrase Mao – and it has a share of the responsibility.

Where Israel Fits

In what appears to be a sop to Arab and Muslim interests — or what it hopes will be protection from additional Muslim anger — the French government has taken an aggressive stance against Israel in UNESCO — where it votedto accept “Palestine” as a full member country, and signed an agreement with “East Jerusalem” for French-Palestinian “cooperation.”

A French-Palestinian effort to repair the roof on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem was announced this week. The French Consul General in Israel praised French archaeologists for “helping to discover Palestine.” In this context, he mentioned the Qumran Caves – where the biblical Dead Sea Scrolls were found. And in perhaps the oddest move of all, France was the only European country to vote against a Russian motion in UNESCO to ward off an attack on Israel by Syria, Jordan and the Palestinians.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was in France recently to thank the Hollande government for the French contribution of 10 million Euros to the Palestinian Authority. While saying he was concerned about anti-Semitism, he added, “A two-state solution” is the “only way to bring lasting peace to the region.” Linking anti-Semitism to the lack of Palestinian independence, suggests that French Jews should understand their victimization the same way Repaalu said Swedish Jews should understand it — as the result of Israeli policy.

In France and Sweden — and in the U.N. — authorities fail to acknowledge that Europe’s Jewish communities are under attack by Muslims who have formed insular, radical and often criminal enclaves. They are attacked NOT because of what they do or do not do; NOT because of what Israel does or does not do, and NOT because their tormentors face discrimination in Europe, but because they are Jews.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Rally Backing Jewish Community Held in Malmo

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Malmo Mayor Ilmar Reepalu was among some 300 marchers who demonstrated in the Swedish city in support of the Jewish community.

Saturday’s march follows a series of anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish community in the city of approximately 300,000 in the south of Sweden. Many of the participants wore kipahs as a sign of solidarity, according to thelocal.se.

Reepalu has called on Malmo Jews to reject Zionism as a strategy for repelling violent attacks on the community.

The Swedish minister for integration, Erik Ullenhag, announced a $76,000 government grant to the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism for a new initiative in Malmo schools to help address problems faced by the city’s Muslim and Jewish populations, thelocal.se reported.

Malmo police over the weekend announced the establishment of a dedicated hate crimes hotline following an increase in attacks on Jewish and Muslim targets.

Earlier this month, demonstrations were held outside the Jewish community center in Malmo and in Stockholm to show solidarity with the community following a firebombing of the JCC’s offices.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/rally-backing-jewish-community-held-in-malmo/2012/10/22/

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