Swedish/Israeli relations have been been moving in an intertwined downward spiral for some time now. It appears that the freefall has finally smacked earth with a resounding ‘thud’, with the Swedish government granting visas to members of the Hamas to enter Sweden. The following article by Ilya Meyer, explains the events in Sweden leading up to the ‘thud’ in the relations between the two states. KGS
Swedish credibility as frail as IKEA furniture
2006 is election year in Sweden. In early April, Swedish Chancellor of Justice Göran Lambertz squashed an investigation into calls from the Stockholm Grand Mosque to “kill the Jews”. In his opinion, such statements should be seen against the background of the conflict in the Middle East, rendering them entirely permissible.
Later the same month Minister of Justice Thomas Bodström declined to withdraw an entry visa to Hamas leader Salah Muhammad al-Bardawil or to have him arrested upon entry – even though Sweden is a signatory to the pan-European decision to brand Hamas a terrorist organisation. Bardawil and his associates will be visiting Sweden in early May under the full protection of the Swedish authorities.
And now Cabinet Secretary Hans Dahlgren announced that Sweden has withdrawn from a European peacekeeping exercise. The explanation: “the participation of the Israeli Air Force has changed the prerequisites of the exercise.” Swedish Defense Minister Leni Björklund goes further: Sweden pulled out because Israel is a state “that does not participate in international peacekeeping missions” – in other words, if you’re not already in the club you have no right to try and lend a helping hand. Of course, the Defense Minister is entirely wrong – nothing unusual in Swedish diplomatic circles – because Israel sent a peacekeeping force of policemen to Fiji in conjunction with that country’s elections. Perhaps accuracy is not the Defense Minister’s strong suit.
In an election year when the votes of Sweden’s 400,000 strong Muslim electorate easily outweigh those of the country’s mere 16,000 Jews, the Swedish Social Democratic administration obviously considered it worth the half million or so kronor it has already spent on its 10-month preparations for the joint exercise to drive home its desire to attract more votes.
Sweden’s latest in a long line of questionable decisions could scarcely have come at a more indelicate point in time – almost coinciding with Holocaust Remembrance Day in memory of the millions exterminated on an industrial scale in a Europe unwilling to work together to stop tyranny and encourage coexistence and loyalty. Today Sweden is doing what it did sixty years ago – turning its back on those in need and siding with the force it sees as likely to win. This is perhaps the right time to remind ourselves that it was high-quality Swedish ore that powered Nazi Germany’s war machine.
It is perhaps also the right time for people of conscience to vote with their wallets and give Sweden’s IKEA, Volvo and Saab a wide berth. There is no Swedish product that cannot be replaced with an alternative from a democracy with moral values.