Anti-Semitism in Sweden

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

Anti-Semitism in Sweden


Byline: Arnold Beichman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

By now we've come to accept that, as Germany was once the hotbed of anti-Semitism, it is the Middle East - from Egypt to Damascus to Saudi Arabia to the PLO - which today is a seething cauldron of racism. What, however, is even more alarming is that anti-Semitism is spreading to what would hitherto be considered the most unlikely places.

I have before me a study published Oct. 20 in a leading Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter, which reports that "Arab and Muslim attacks on Jews are rising sharply in Swedish society [while] silence surrounds Muslim Jew-hatred." The study, inadequately translated from Swedish, was prepared by two Swedish social scientists, Sverker Oredssom, a professor of history, and Mikael Tossavainen, his research assistant.

The situation has become so bad, they report, that "Jews in Sweden today often feel compelled to hide their religious identity in public: necklaces with stars of David are carefully hidden under sweaters, and orthodox Jewish men change their kippot [skullcaps] to more discreet caps or hats when they are outdoors. Jews in Sweden nowadays get secret telephone numbers to avoid harassment. In Sweden. Today."

In a Swedish population of some 9 million, there are about 20,000 Jews, mostly in Stockholm, Sweden's capital. The social scientists blame the Muslim migrants, now 3.9 percent of the Swedish population, for the growth of anti-Semitism. (Sweden has the second-largest percentage Muslim population in Western Europe. France has the highest Muslim population percentage, 7 percent.)

"Most Swedes believe that anti-Semitism is an extinct problem in our country," they write. "Most Swedes believe that our society has evolved and that we are more enlightened today. ... Unfortunately, they are wrong. During the last year, the security police registered 131 anti-Semitic crimes. Nobody knows how many incidents go unreported. but the security police expect the number to be large."

Jewish congregations in Sweden have noted a sharp increase in "harassment, threats and attacks by Arabs and Muslims against Jews in Swedish society during the last few years," the report states. "The problem is furthermore aggravated by the almost complete silence which surrounds this form of Jew-hatred. …

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