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Isaac Bachman, Israel's Ambassador to Sweden

Israel’s Ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman, said that he was very happy to receive a request for an interview from Swedish public radio Sveriges. The interview to discuss anti-Semitism in Europe took place on Tuesday, Feb. 17. The interview threatened to cause a national furor until this diplomat deftly turned a rotten lemon into delicious lemonade.

“It is not very common for the media to ask official representatives of Israel, people who can actually speak on behalf of the state,” Ambassador Bachman told The Jewish Press during a phone interview Wednesday evening, Feb. 18.


“I went to the studio, knowing that the topics we would be discussing included the recent terrorist attacks in which Jews were targeted and killed in Paris and Copenhagen, as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for Jews to make Aliyah,” he said.

Helena Groll, the Swedish journalist, started the interview by asking Bachman what he thought about Netanyahu’s call for Jews to leave Europe.

“I explained that Aliyah was not part of my work here, neither before such tragedies as took place in Paris and Copenhagen, or after. My job is not to convince the Jewish population to move to Israel,” Bachman told The Jewish Press, “I said people know that Aliyah is an option that is valid, one that exists and is open to them at any time.”

The next question from Groll was far more problematic.

The Swedish journalist asked the Israeli Ambassador: “Do the Jews themselves have any responsibility in the growing anti-Semitism that we see now?”

“My response?” Bachman said, “I told her ‘I reject this question completely.'”

“But she did not grab this chance to move on,” Bachman said. “She failed to grab this opportunity to retreat.”

Indeed, Groll kept shooting, “why?” when Bachman responded that “there is no place for such a question to be asked.”

As Groll began talking over Bachman, asking him to “tell me then, explore with me why is that a question of…” Bachman finally silenced her, by putting the situation in terms that she would be better able to understand.

He said, his voice becoming firmer and louder until Groll finally stopped talking: “To ask the question of whether a woman contributes to being raped is irrelevant altogether. I don’t think there is a provocation that the Jews are doing. They just exist.”

Listen to the radio interview, then keep reading:

The Ambassador said that after his portion of the interview, he went out quietly, and the interview continued with others participating.

It was not until later, when people in Sweden heard the interview, that a huge uproar ensued.

“I don’t think the journalist really had any idea that what she was asking was problematic,” Bachman told The Jewish Press, “her question was reflective of a particular view that is, unfortunately, widespread.”

Bachman said that what he sees in Europe is a melding of the old-style European anti-Semitism, which never really completely sank below the surface, with a new, less traditional and more political hatred of Israel.

The ambassador to Sweden told The Jewish Press that Helena Groll called him this morning and apologized. In response to our question, he said he truly believed that she is now authentically, genuinely more aware of the situation and conscious of the dangers behind the kind of question she asked him.

Bachman also said that he was at the Swedish Parliament yesterday. Not only were people talking about the interview, Bachman said, but many came up to him and apologized on behalf of the Swedish people.

Hanif Bali, a Swedish parliamentarian and member of the Swedish-Israeli Friendship coalition in parliament posted about the interview on his Facebook page.


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Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:


  1. And to expand how the ambassador answered that provocative question, in the critical thinking section of Common Core, that great new method of educating American children, there is a question similar to what he was asked. I am now paraphrasing: Did the Jews contribute to the event known as the Holocaust? So here we have the Leftist strategy made visible in all walks of life. We'd better be prepared to counter, just as the Israel ambassador did.

  2. Dont you know that under Sharia it works that way: the woman being raped is blamed for adultery and she gets 100 lashes and is stoned to death. This is the order new world we live in. And by the way, for that matter, why does the baby get aborted for the sin of her parents or even the rapist?

  3. When Tsarist Russia kicked off the Pogroms, PUNCH of London published a leading cartoon of Tsar Alexander III drawing his sword, inscribed "Persecution" with his foot on a bound up Hassid on the ground. In the background is the ghost of Pharaoh and the main caption read something to the effect," That sword usually rebounds on those who daw it." Germany was the World research centre before Hitler. Since 1945 it is nothing in particular.

  4. Our Ambassador had the guts and the intelligence and wisdom, to deal with her anti-Semitic comment. He kept his cool and used an excellent example of how one blames the victim and exonerates victimizer.

  5. Of course the Jews are to blame, How dare they be Jewish! This is the logic of this fool. Of course they gave a Nobel Peace Prize to another fool that never worked an honest day of his life and was able to fabricate a fairy tale about his life and pawn it off as an auto-biography. The amazing thing is how many people swallow this swill and believe it. I am indeed amazed!

  6. This is a typical reaction from a stupid Swedish Journalist. I am sure all readers are aware of the high crime and rape rate in Sweden. The government of Sweden are so dumb they truly believe Islam is preferable to Judaism. Wallestrom is a prime example of the ignorance of a Swedish MP. Swedish press is censored and frankly this broad has no business interviewing an educated and smart man such as Mr. Bachman. Without Israel's IDF and BBN there would be no control over Obama, BBN must speak in Washington. I wish I could vote for him but I live outside the UK .

  7. Forgive me Jewish Press this female is the dumbest broad I have ever listened to. If she interviews me I will not be as diplomatic or as polite as Mr. Backman. I will simply tell her to her face on tv what a stupid cow she is. My book will cause an almighty furor in Sweden and I am damn glad about this. Maybe the Swedes will finally find their brains!

  8. “…there is no cure for the present anti-Semitic situation in Europe – a perilous source of infection for a shrinking world which has shown no ability to isolate points of disturbance. Sooner or later in the near future, this attempt to throttle an energetic and vigorous people must result in an explosion in the Ghettos of Europe, adding a new source of trouble to a world already overburdened. If, however, the Jews are allowed to solve their own problem by re-establishing themselves in Palestine, as was envisaged when the Mandate for Palestine was written, they will not only remove the present European danger but will turn the turbulent corner of the Near East into a bulwark f established world order.” – Not my words, unfortunately, but that which is shown on the preface of a book “The Rape of Palestine” by William B. Ziff, 1938. –
    Groll should be ashamed, she is the skid mark in an unholy toilet for still wanting to create a stink in Sweden, but she is not alone, there are many, if not all of the European countries who bay for the demise of Jews and Israel -– there is a higher judge to make such a decision but Israel will not be eradicated without taking the rest of the world along for the ride.
    Good for Bachman!

  9. actually there probably are many as smart as this. The Jewish people are very, very intelligent and perhaps that is one of the reasons people don't like them. The world is full of ignorant people.

  10. The ambassador is a clever and courageous man,there are not so many with israeli diplomats! In fact israeli politicians and diplomats are responsible for anti-Israel politics and even antisemitism which followed antisionism thru their arch-arch-arch-super-ultra stupid counter-pr which WAS INEXISTENT for so long and even now is still a failure. Why do these people NOT UNDERSTAND THAT THE SIMPLE PALESTINIAN WORD IS TOXIC TO ISRAEL NOT JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IT MEANS AND CONSEQUENTLY IT IS ISRAEL S DUTY TO EXPLAIN IT DOES NOT EVEN EXIST ANY LONGER AS OF 1948 WHEN THEY BECAME ISRAELIS. Palestine's arabs ARE JORDANIANS SINCE THEY RECEIVED THE JORDANIAN NATIONALITY AS OF 1949. Even if they are too dumb to come up with more arguments such as San Remo etc.THIS SIMPLE ARGUMENT WOULD PROVE PEOPLE THAT ANTI ISRAEL ARGUMETS ARE JUST PROPAGANDA OF NAZI TYPE.

  11. Kline : but you must admit that with a good counter-pr Israel would have FAR MORE CHANCES TO BE UNDERSTOOD and stop antisemitism. This along with a courageous policy of eviction of those dangerous Palestine jordanians could do the job even better than a 3 ww. Even Israel's arab neighbourfs would not a cause for war. Of course no ona can give a guarantee but the chances of succes would multiply by 1000

  12. Alan : you cannot stop imbeciles by simply saying they are imbeciles because inter alia they do not even know they are stupid and they do not believe yoiu when you tell them they are stupid. You must PROVE them with arguments. Bachman gave her 2 SIMPLE arguments, girls' rapes which are so many in sweden and the fact that jews are attacked because they EXIST…that is not bad but totally INSUFFICIENT,there are better arguments UNUSED

  13. Alan : THE ISRAELI MEDIA AND POLITICIANS SHOULD PREPARE THE GROUND FIRST,IF THEY DID ISRAELI DIPLOMATS WOULD BE INVITED MORE OFTEN. That is how it works. With Israelis and jews one should teach them HOW TO USE forks and knives in dinners…

  14. Rachel : that was better so. We should blame Israel's lack of pro Israel pr than idiots who do not know anything about the "palestinian" jordan problem. Blaming others DOES NOT BRING A SOLUTION BUT BLAMING ONE S OWN MISTAKES AND AMEND THEM NBRINGS A SOLUTION.

  15. Stupid Journalist. What a dumb Question. She would have been on to something if she had asked if the policies of the State of Israel are contributing to spreading anti-semitism. That certainly would have been valid. Good answer on part of the diplomat. Although I would be curios as to his response to the state policy question…

  16. Europe awake before it is too late.
    History theaches us that in Europe for hunderds of years one could do what they wanted with the Jews( a very small minority )
    But meanwhile you don't understand what big desaster you are preparing as future for your own children & grandchildren!!!!!!!!
    Wait & see (mrs.Tatcher),very wise lady and she was not Jewish !!!!!!

  17. I would have retorted that she is asking a typical Nazi question: Hitler – hopefully burning in Hell – kept repeating the assertion that Jews are responsible for all their misfortunes, because they draw anti-Semitic fire from all those who hate them. Jews are not allowed to defend themselves either, because anti-Smites are right in their hatred. He would have rolled over in his grave – had he had one – because all his theories were turned upside down once Israel was established, having the best army in the world and nuclear weapons too, with which it could destroy all Neo-Nazis and terrorist Muslims in a flash.

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