Debate over Swedish announcement to host anti-Semitism conference

The announcement by Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven that his country will host an international anti-Semitism conference to commemorate the Holocaust in October 2020, has been received with condemnation, with officials describing it as “perplexing.”

Löfven said the event will be hosted in the third-largest city, Malmö.

According to Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­, a senior research associate at the BESA Center and a former chairman of the Steering Committee of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said the announcement was shocking given Sweden’s history on the subject matter.

“This is a perplexing announcement; one would expect such an initiative to come from a country that has made serious efforts to fight anti-Semitism,” he said.

“Sweden has a long history of unanswered anti-Semitic incidents.”

He said the board of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) in Sweden voted in 2016 to accept the Working Definition of Anti-Semitism but Sweden, apparently, does not accept the definition depiste the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Israel and a number of other countries do.

“Extreme manifestations of anti-Semitism, unequaled elsewhere, have taken place in Sweden. The Jewish community of the Swedish town of Umea had to disband entirely because it was threatened by neo-Nazis and harassed by radical Muslims.”

He said in May this year, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (BRA) released a report on anti-Semitic hate crimes that said Jew-hatred in Sweden comes from both the political left and right, as well as from the Muslim population.

Quoting the report, he said anti-Semitism is openly expressedthere are few places where people with a Jewish background feel safe.

He also question the choice for the location saying : “Löfven’s choice of Malmö as the location for the conference is also surprising. This city was considered by experts for years to be the anti-Semitism capital of Europe. There have been hundreds of complaints about anti-Semitism there, but none has led to judicial action.”

“In the meantime, one should expect international Jewish organizations to provide participants with a detailed overview of Sweden’s below-par record on fighting anti-Semitism. This might force the Swedish government to finally accept the IHRA definition and start acting against anti-Semitism. If it does not, it could at least prevent the Swedish government from abusing the conference for public relations purposes.”



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