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Fighting the good fight in Sweden

This is a guest post by Paul Leslie

At the beginning of 2006 Sweden’s Chancellor of Justice – the Government’s counsellor in legal matters – called a halt to the initial criminal investigation opened after it had been reported that cassette tapes, which contained violently anti-Jewish inflammatory material, were being sold in the bookshop of the Stockholm Grand Mosque and after the broadcast of two programmes, on the 26th and 27th November 2005, which promoted themes which were of such a nature as to incite extreme anti-Jewish hostility.

It is true that such instances of official inaction in the face of serious anti-Jewish incitement, as well as interventions to discontinue prosecutions which seem cast-iron and likely to succeed (supposedly for lack of evidence) – whether it is because of the undue weight given to (presumed) demographic and electoral realities, or is motivated by related considerations and/or ideological prejudices – have not been unknown in other European Union states, including Britain. What is particularly disturbing in the case of this Swedish official decision and what makes it (so far, to my knowledge) unprecedented in the countries of the EU, is the behaviour of the theoretically “apolitical” Swedish Chancellor of Justice Chancellor Goran Lambertz who went so far as to justify publicly the decision not to proceed by dishonestly misinterpreting Swedish law.
Despite the fact that “the lecture at hand contains statements that are strongly degrading to Jews, among other things, they are throughout called brothers of apes and pigs.” and that “Jihad is called for, to kill the Jews, whereby suicide bombers – celebrated as martyrs – are the most effective weapon”, Lamberz argued that such statements “should be judged differently, and be considered allowed, because they are used by one side in a continuing profound conflict, where battle cries and invectives are part of everyday occurrences in the rhetoric that surround the conflict.” and that, accordingly, “recently mentioned statements in spite of their contents are not to be considered incitement against an ethnic group according to Swedish law”. (See the article penned by four Swedish Jewish communal officials following this decision, “The radical reinterpretation of incitement against Jews by the Chancellor of Justice in Sweden.”).
Not much publicity was given to this judicial outrage and it is at least legitimate to ask whether the official attitudes which underlay it played any role in the increasing number of cases where, in practice, Swedish Jews do not receive equal protection under the law. A particularly striking example of this was the Malmö incident

(See the Wiesenthal Centre communiqué, dated the 26th January 2009, Wiesenthal Centre to Swedish Prime Minister – “The Consequences of Pogrom-Style ‘Kristallmorgen’ in Malmö are Dire for all Swedish Citizens”)

As readers of Harry’s place will recall, a small group of pro-Israeli Jews wished to rally peacefully in solidarity with Israelis under constant rocket or missile attack – including the increasing number (one million plus and counting) coming within the range of missiles – and to defend Israel’s right to defend itself and to launch the type of military operations that any other country would undertake in a similar situation. They were attacked by a mob whose weapons included small explosives and, instead of being defended by the local police, they were dispersed and told to go home. (See “Rockets for Jews” )

It is an open question whether or not Lamberz’s perverse decision to discontinue prosecution in a clear case of incitement will have any effect upon the outcome of one initiative to take legal action against Aftonbladet (see article published 25th August 2009, “Swedish Blood Libel The aftermath”

Donald Bostrom, the author of the “Swedish blood libel” fully admits to not checking any of the supposed “facts” and has said “But whether it’s true or not – I have no idea, I have no clue.” (“Swedish writer ‘not sure’ story’s true”). As this is the case, it is puzzling that up to now no libel action has been launched in Sweden.

There is good reason to support the various sections of Israeli officialdom which have gone onto the offensive against a Swedish government which distanced itself from the decent reaction of its ambassador in Israel to Bostrom’s libels and a Foreign Ministry which for a long time has been contributing to the funding of NGOs which incorporate implicitly and sometimes explicitly anti-Jewish themes and language in their anti-Israel publications (“Sweden – The Swedish Foreign Ministry funding research into “Theft of Organs”).

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