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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sweden’

Bomb Hits Swedish Jewish Community

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Two people were arrested in connection to an bomb that blew up in front of a Jewish community in Malmo, Sweden on Friday morning. The bomb blew out a window, but no one was injured.

Despite that only 700 Jews living in Malmo the Scandinavian city has become infamous for its anti-Semitic riots and attacks on Jews and Jewish property. It’s estimated that some 100,000 Muslims live in city making up at least one-third of its residents.

Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden, has gotten the reputation of being the Baghdad of Sweden, not because of the number of Muslims living there, but because of the dozens of explosions and murders that the Muslims have introduced into the city over the past few years.

 

 

Jews March against Anti-Semitism in Sweden

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

A few hundred Jews and non-Jews marched in the southern-Swedish city of Malmo to protest intolerance and anti-Semitic attacks in Sweden.

Malmo, with a large immigrant Muslim community, saw a surge in hate crimes against Jews after Israel’s operation in Gaza in 2009.

Some marchers wore a kippa.

Willy Silberstein of the Swedish Committee Against Anti-Semitism, which organized the march, described it as a success. The march ended without incident.

“It was impressive. There was much more people than we expected,” Silberstein said, adding that most of the participants were not Jewish.

Sweden’s minister for EU affairs, Birgitta Ohlsson, walked in the march. In her speech to the marchers she declared that Malmo was open to everyone, regardless of background or beliefs.

In recent years, Sweden’s government has been criticized for failing to protect the country’s Jewish community from anti-Semitism. But last year the government allocated funds to this end.

It is estimated that 20,000 Jews live in Sweden.

Antisemitism on the Rise in Europe

Monday, May 7th, 2012

The virus of antisemitism persists in haunting Europe. In recent months, antisemitism has been exhibited all too often in European countries, not just in theory but in practice. France has been the scene for the murder of Jewish schoolchildren in Toulouse; attacks on Jewish property in Paris and Dijon; desecration of Jewish graves in Nice, and anti-Semitic graffiti throughout the country. Malmo, Sweden, with a now considerable Muslim population, has witnessed increasing outbreaks of violence against Jews. It is disquieting that Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor of the city, has denied these attacks, and dismissed criticism of his denials as the work of the “Israel lobby.”

Over the last decade, antisemitic incidents have occurred not just in France and Sweden but also throughout Europe; some of the more notable have been in the Kreuzberg section of Berlin populated by Palestinians and Turks; even more significantly, in other neighborhoods of Berlin that are not populated by Middle East immigrants; in Stockholm, Amsterdam, and major French cities besides Paris; on the island of Corfu in Greece, and in Rome.

In the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam, the European Union called for joint efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination experienced by individuals and groups on the basis of their ethnic features, cultural background, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability. As a result of this treaty, comprehensive data and an analysis of the state of discrimination in Europe with special emphasis on antisemitism is now available in a just-published comprehensive study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Berlin.

This study, Intolerance, Prejudice and Discrimination: a European Report, was based on interviews with sample populations of 1,000 people in eight European countries. It examined negative attitudes and prejudices against groups defined as “other,” “foreign,” or “abnormal.” The overall result — showing widespread intolerance, racism, sexism, dislike of Muslims, concern about immigrants, opposition to homosexuals and gay marriage, and antisemitism — is dispiriting.

Although the prejudices against the various groups differ, the study suggests that they are interconnected: that people who denigrate one group are also very likely to target other groups. Prejudices against the different target groups are linked and share a common ideology, one that endangers democracy and leads to violence and conflicts. The problem that democratic countries and well-meaning people now face is how to confront and overcome these prejudices that are so observable.

The overall saddening conclusion of the report, which deals with a number of areas of discrimination, is that group-focused enmity towards immigrants, blacks, Muslims, and Jews is widespread throughout Europe; and that anti-Semitism is an important component of this hostility. The Report defines anti-Semitism as social prejudice directed against Jews simply because they are Jews. Being Jewish is seen as a negative characteristic. Current antisemitism takes many forms: political (the Jews have a world conspiracy); secular (the Jews are usurers); religious (the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus); racist (Jews through their genetics are not people to be trusted). The report continues with additional detail: Jews have too much influence; Jews try to take advantage of having been victims during the Nazi era; Jews in general do not care about anything or anybody but their own kind. Two additional troubling points of view were documented: the first is why people do not like Jews when one considers Israel’s policy; the second is the belief that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.

Even though the study deals with a limited number of individuals and European countries, its findings are significant. The details are a warning of possible future danger. The study shows that animosity against Jews is strongest in the Eastern European countries (Poland and Hungary) and in Germany, moderate in France, Italy, and Portugal, and weakest in the Netherlands and Britain. A recent shift appears to have occurred from traditional anti-Semitism to a new anti-Semitism in relation to the Holocaust. Ominously, an inversion of perpetrator and victim has taken place.

Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945, but the of the Final Solution seems to have been forgotten in the view of European citizens. The study shows that 72% of Poles, 68% of Hungarians, and 49% of Germans believe, strongly or somewhat, that the Jews today are benefitting from the memory of the camp and exploit the Holocaust. Even in the countries with the lowest expression of prejudice, the percentages of people who hold the view that Jews exploit the Holocaust are alarming. The figure for the Netherlands is 17% and in Britain 21%.

The most frequently expressed-anti-Semitic perception is the certitude that Jews have too much influence in the country of the respondent. Nearly 70% of Hungarians hold this view. In Poland, where few people even know a Jew since Poland has such a small Jewish community, some 50% hold this belief. The lowest figures are in the Netherlands where this view is held strongly by 6% and in Britain where 13.9% profess agreement with this assessment. The other four countries around 20% concur with this statement. On the question of Jews caring only about themselves, the range of views is different. Portugal joins Hungary and Poland in agreeing, 51-57%, while the other six vary between 20 and 30%. Somewhat surprisingly, a majority in all eight countries believe that Jews have enriched the culture of the country; the highest figures are in the Netherlands, (72%), Britain (71%) , and Germany (69%).

U.S. Sends Anti-Israel Advisor to Anti-Semitic Sweden

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama’s controversial anti-Semitism advisor, Hannah Rosenthal, will be visiting Sweden on April 24 to meet with Ilmar Reepalu, the famously anti-Israel mayor of the city of Malmö.

According to the American embassy in Stockholm, Rosenthal has been following the rise of anti-Semitism in Malmö for some time and wants to make sure that there are no politicians in the area that encourage discrimination, racism, or hatred against Jews.

Rosenthal’s visit to Sweden is likely to amount to little more than an empty photo opportunity. This is because Rosenthal and Reepalu are both self-styled “progressives” who hold the insidious belief that Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism because of their support for Israel.

Like other European countries, Sweden has experienced a significant uptick in anti-Semitic hate-crimes in recent years. Jews in Sweden are frequently subject to harassment and some have been physically assaulted; Jewish cemeteries in the country have repeatedly been desecrated; Jewish worshippers have been abused on their way home from prayer; and Jews have been taunted in the streets by masked men chanting phrases such as “Hitler, Hitler” and “Dirty Jew.” Some Jews in Sweden have stopped attending prayer services out of fear for their safety.

The problem of anti-Semitism in Sweden is so widespread that the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center has advised Jews to avoid traveling to the country altogether. “We reluctantly are issuing this advisory because religious Jews and other members of the Jewish community there have been subject to anti-Semitic taunts and harassment. There have been dozens of incidents reported to the authorities but have not resulted in arrests or convictions for hate crimes,” the center said in a statement.

Malmö, the third-largest city in Sweden, has become an especially hostile place for Jews, who are increasingly subjected to threats, intimidation, and physical violence.

The only synagogue serving Malmö’s 700-strong Jewish community has been a frequent target of attack. The synagogue, which is often the target of bomb threats, has also been set on fire, and now has security guards stationed around the building. The windows of the synagogue have been replaced with bullet-proof glass, while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through reinforced steel security doors.

The situation for Jews in Malmö is so bleak that some 30 Jewish families have already left the city for Stockholm, England, or Israel — and more are preparing to go.

The upswing in anti-Semitic violence in Malmö is being attributed to two key factors: the exponential increase in the number of Muslim immigrants in the city, and Malmö’s bigoted left-wing mayor, who rarely misses an opportunity to publicly demonize Israel.

Muslims now comprise between 20% and 25% of Malmö’s total population of around 300,000, and local observers say most of the increase in anti-Jewish violence in recent years has been perpetrated by shiftless Muslim immigrant youth.

Anti-Semitism is also being stirred up by Ilmar Reepalu, the left-wing mayor of Malmö, who has a pathological obsession with Israel.

Reepalu, who has been mayor for more than 15 years, says Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism because of their support for Israel.

In January 2010, for example, Reepalu marked Holocaust Memorial Day by declaring that Zionism is racism because it is an “extreme ideology that puts one group of people over another.”

In an interview with the daily newspaper Skånska Dagbladet, he also said: “I would wish for the Jewish community to denounce Israeli violations against the civilian population in Gaza. Instead it decides to hold a [pro-Israel] demonstration in the Grand Square [of Malmö], which could send the wrong signals.”

Reepalu was referring to an incident in January 2009, during Israel’s brief war in Gaza, when a small demonstration in favor of Israel was attacked by a screaming mob of Muslims and Swedish leftists, who threw bottles, eggs, and firecrackers as the police looked on.

In July 2011, after a Hollywood film production company cancelled plans to shoot a movie in the southern Swedish province of Skåne due to concerns over anti-Semitism in Malmö, Reepalu cast his rage on the Simon Wiesenthal Center for issuing the travel warning.

Reepalu, in an interview with the newspaper Sydsvenskan, said: “I have a feeling that the Simon Wiesenthal Center is not really looking for what is happening in Malmö but they want to hang the people who dare to criticize the state of Israel. Are they once again saying I should be silenced? I will never compromise my morals.”

More recently, Reepalu accused Jews in Sweden of teaming up with an anti-immigrant party to “spread hate” against Muslims.

In a March 22 interview with the magazine NEO about the rise of anti-Semitism in Sweden, Reepalu said the Jewish community has been “infiltrated” by the conservative Sweden Democrats party to promote their mutual disdain for Muslims.

Israel Internet Defense Among Top Three in the World

Monday, January 30th, 2012

According to a report by the Financial Times, the Security and Defense Agenda think tank has ranked Israel as one of the three most cyber-secure countries in the world.

The Brussels-based think tank said Israel is on par with Finland and Sweden as having the best internet defenses for websites.

According to the study, though Israeli websites are attacked 1,000 times a minute on the internet, national strategies for cyber-defense are already in place and being successfully implemented.

The study comes in the wake of the recent upsurge in activity on the Arab-Israeli cyber-war front, and the announcement that the Israeli National Cyber Defense Authority was officially launched.

Raoul Wallenberg’s 100th Birthday: Iranian Participation, New Investigation

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

A celebration of the 100th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved the lives of over 20,000 Hungarian Jews in the final days of World War II, also marks the renewal of investigations into the events surrounding his death.

The event, which took place in the portrait hall of Budapest’s National Museum in Hungary, was attended by a slew of international representatives, including the wife of late Congressman Tom Lantons, who was saved by Wallenberg, and Holocaust survivor and Israeli Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled.  A surprise to attendees was the participation of Iranian Ambassador to Hungary Seyed Agha Banihashemi Saeed, who remained throughout the duration of the ceremony, including during a speech made by Peled.  Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is an open Holocaust denier and has made frequent calls for the destruction of Israel.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who was also in attendance, has asked experts to open a new probe into what happened to Wallenberg after his capture in 1945.

Wallenberg was personally responsible for the issuing of Swedish diplomatic papers to Hungarian Jews beginning in July 1944, as well as for establishing hiding places for Jews throughout Budapest.

Wallenberg was arrested by Russian officers on January 17, 1945.  He was never heard from again, and his whereabouts or circumstances of death were never established. He was 32 years old at the time of his disappearance.

The new investigation will be led by Hans Magnusson, who began his inquiry into Wallenberg’s whereabouts in the 1990s along with Russian experts.  At the time, the Russians said Wallenberg was probably killed on June 17, 1947 in Soviet custody.  At the time, the Soviets said Wallenberg died of a heart attack in prison.  However, some evidence and eye-witness reports suggest he may have survived beyond that date.

Moreover, two US researchers are now saying a recently discovered Swedish document shows that the KGB intervened to thwart Magnusson’s investigation of Wallenberg’s disappearance.

At the ceremony, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi admitted that Hungary played a role in the deaths of 600,000 Hungarian Jews, and reaffirmed Hungary’s current support for Israel.

The year of Wallenberg’s 100th birthday will include a Hungarian commemorative stamp, a national competition for high school students on Holocaust history, and an event honoring Hungarian non-Jewish “Righteous Among the Nations” at Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

The Jewish Art Enthusiast’s Guide To WNET/Channel Thirteen’s ‘Art Through Time: A Global View’

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Art Through Time: A Global View


A 13-part series produced by Thirteen (WNET) for Annenberg Media


Premiered Oct. 10


Jill Peters (exec. producer), Suzanne Rose (series producer), Jennifer Hallam (managing editor, writer producer), and Eva Zelig, Arash Hoda and Gail Levin (producers)



 

 


Jewish art buffs might be disappointed by channel Thirteen’s new 13-part series, Art Through Time: A Global View. It takes two entire episodes (one half an hour each) and part of the third episode for a reference to Jewish art to surface. This comes in the person of Shimon Attie (born in Los Angeles, 1957), whose The Writing on the Wall (1991-3) projected pre-Holocaust photographs onto the walls of buildings in the Jewish quarter of Berlin, the Scheunenviertel. Attie’s projections, which were effectively before-and-after photos of particular buildings, are particularly haunting because they reveal how much the neighborhood has changed. Another work of Attie’s that is discussed in the episode is Portrait of Exile (1995), which involved submerging light boxes with portraits of Danish refugees (who fled to Sweden during the Holocaust) in a canal in Copenhagen.

 

There is nothing wrong with Attie and his work – though it’s not clear that he should be the first representative of Jewish art, as opposed to Jacob Abraham Camille Pissarro, Marc Chagall, Max Liebermann, Amedeo Modigliani and a slew of more contemporary artists like Larry Rivers, R.B. Kitaj or Judy Chicago, though photographer Richard Avedon’s work appears (but is not discussed in a Jewish context at all). One might also argue that opening the discussion about Jewish art with works about Holocaust memory could give the wrong impression about the larger genre of Jewish art, which often deals with much happier and affirmative times in Jewish history and experience, as readers of this column are well aware.

 

But what is perhaps most troubling is that there was no room to discuss Jewish art in the first episode (Converging Cultures) or the second (Dreams and Visions), particularly since viewers hear about plenty of Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Latin American, African, Asian and Indonesian Aborigine art in those two episodes.

 

 


Unknown artist, Haggadah, Spain, c. 1300. Courtesy of the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary. From Art Through Time: A Global View.

 

 

After Attie, viewers can carry on watching the rest of episode three (History and Memory) – where Attie returns and gets the final word – four (Ceremony and Society, which offers a quick glimpse of a bar mitzvah amidst a larger mosaic of snapshots), and six minutes of five (Cosmology and Belief) before hearing from another Jewish artist, this time Vitaly Komar, of the Russian artist-born duo Komar and Melamid, famous for, amongst other things, teaching elephants in Thailand to paint.

 

Like Attie, Komar is hardly a representative of Jewish art worth complaining about. Komar’s work, which is very edgy, particularly in its politics, often draws upon Jewish (and other faiths’) symbols, as well as Kabbalah. “Art can create [an] image, which has no equivalent in language,” Komar says later on in the episode, which also addresses the Rothko Chapel in Houston, Texas, showcasing the work of Jewish painter Mark Rothko. But Komar and his colleague Alexander Melamid, have a particular political criticism of the Soviet Union in mind, and is not necessarily the best work to choose if only two Jewish artists are going to be discussed in the entire series.

 

 


The Egyptian Book of the Dead from chapter six, Death. Credit:

Unknown artist, Egypt. New Kingdom, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1567 BCE-320 BCE Egyptian Museum, Turin, Italy. © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS, The Picture Desk Limited.

 

 

The next two episodes (Death, Domestic Life) do not address anything Jewish – though to be fair, one cannot address art and death without devoting significant air time to the Egyptian Book of the Dead – but episode eight (Writing) opens with Sharon Lieberman Mintz, curator of Jewish art at the library at the Jewish Theological Seminary, talking about a Haggadah. Mintz says Jewish illuminated manuscripts first emerged in the 9th or 10th century, in part because Jewish artists were excluded from the guilds, which held the secrets of mixing pigments close and literally did not know the trade secrets.

 

Though Jewish art is not discussed again in episodes nine (Portraits), 10 (The Natural World), 11 (The Urban Experience), 12 (Conflict and Resistance) or 13 (The Body) – and indeed seems mostly uninvited to the Art Through Time party – I do not believe that Thirteen or WNET should be criticized for negligence (or avoidance) for several reasons.

 

First, though viewers who do not realize that Jewish art is a stop on the train – and who erroneously think that the Second Commandment has effectively banned art making for Jewish artists for centuries – will not learn a whole lot more about the subject, there is a tremendous opportunity for Jews to learn about art of other faiths and from regions across the globe. One of the buzzwords of the series is “hybridity,” and as Ori Soltes (who would have made a great addition to the series) argues in Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source, Jewish art must be seen in a larger context. Art Through Time provides that larger context and a sophisticated vocabulary with which to examine it.  

 

Second, the directors clearly decided that anthropologists were going to be at least as much a part of the series as art historians and artists. This is a very good thing, in my opinion. The anthropological approaches to most of the works in the series ensure that the discussion transcends “inside baseball” references to art historical motifs, techniques and movements, and focuses on the cultural motivations that inform (and are simultaneously are shaped by) the works.

 

 

 


Art Through Time: A Global View. Pictured (clockwise from top left): HYENA, a work by Angelo Filomeno, featured in Death (episode 6); PINK AND BLUE CAR, a work by Sandy Skoglund, featured in Dreams and Visions (episode 2); detail of tapestry depicting Hindu god, Yama, featured in Cosmology and Belief (episode 5); detail of rug featured in Converging Cultures (episode 1).

 

 

This series is not only accessible to non-experts (which is why I haven’t picked it apart too much; I encourage readers to watch it for themselves, perhaps with this article as a guide), but it succeeds in teaching a lot about art and art history, despite its relatively short span of six and a half hours. Some of the sequences seem overly ambitious (like explaining Impressionism while standing on one foot), but the series is more an Art Through Time 101 survey than an in-depth seminar.

 

It would be interesting to see what the anthropologists would say about how Judaism and Jewish art are portrayed in the series, but I suspect it would be much more prudent to sincerely applaud Art Through Time for all of its successes, rather than dwelling on what is not there. There just might be a need to create a new series on Jewish art specifically.

 


            Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/the-jewish-art-enthusiasts-guide-to-wnetchannel-thirteens-art-through-time-a-global-view-2/2010/10/27/

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