Barry Rubin GLORIA Ilya Meyer Middle East Experts

Ilya Meyer: Perceptions of the Gaza war: The View from Sweden and Norway…….

Over at the GLORIA CENTER’s MERIA Journal, which by the way, now has a great new look, Professor Barry Rubin asked a number of individuals from European countries to look at trends in the places where they live, concerning the perceptions of “Western elites and publics, and the policies of Western governments toward the Middle East in the wake of the Gaza war“.

Barry Rubin states:Three levels are examined: the policies of governments, the attitudes of intellectual-media-cultural-journalistic elites, and public opinion. Several European countries were chosen to get some sense of whether these factors are changing and their current status.”

A few weeks ago, the Tundra Tabloids’ good friend, Ilya Meyer was asked by Rubin to write his analysis of the situation in both Sweden and Norway, in the wake of the Hamas war with Israel. Ilya Meyer’s analysis is found in the first section of the two part of symposium. Read not only Meyer’s accounting, but the other writers as well. KGS

If ever there were a paradise on earth, leaving aside any religious implications of that phrase, Sweden would have to be a top contender. The same length as the whole of continental Europe, Sweden nonetheless has a population less than that of London. The country is green, clean, spacious, quiet, and rich in just about everything humankind could want apart from oil–and that is partly offset by clean and plentiful hydropower.

After decades of left-wing Social Democrat cradle-to-the-grave government, Swedes have been largely conditioned to having someone else do their thinking for them. The nanny-state was designed in Stockholm and exported around the world, with political correctness evolving to the point of self-effacement –all of which speaks volumes about the welfare of this wonderful nation and the time that its population has on its hands to voluntarily engage in “good works.”

Foremost among these good works is the Israel-Palestine issue. The problem as explained to the Swedish public is between Israel and “Palestine”–the wider Arab instigation and perpetuation of the problem is largely ignored. Swedes like their problems neatly packaged and easy to handle–like their IKEA furniture.


Not having been at war for 200 years, there is generally little nationalistic feeling in Sweden. Self-effacement is so far developed that native Swedes now question the suitability of flying the national flag, bearing in mind that the country has over the years become home to several hundred thousand “new Swedes”–the politically correct term for refugees, asylum-seekers, and other immigrants (mostly from the Middle East). There are about 400,000 Muslims–4 percent of the population–and 20,000 Jews in Sweden.

In 2006, a non-socialist coalition government came to power led by the Conservatives and supported by the Liberals, Center Party, and Christian Democrats. The current coalition adopts a more balanced approach to the Middle East but has been unable to make a real change. For example, economic aid to the Palestinians is never conditioned on such issues as greater democracy and human rights or even a limitation on not using Swedish aid for anti-Israel incitement.

How has all this affected Sweden’s perception of Israel over the years, and more specifically in the aftermath of the war that Hamas provoked with Israel in December 2008? To say that attitudes have changed would be both correct and incorrect. Correct because for the first time since 1967, the man in the street is expressing understanding of Israel’s security position and the geopolitical dilemma Israel faces: an aggressive Iran using Hizballah and Hamas proxies to expand its hegemony in the Middle East; an Arab world that seldom, if ever, questions its own policies; the abuse of Islam by Islamist political extremists for seeking political power; and the ever-present threat and commission of violence by large and growing minorities of disenchanted Muslim youths against other Muslims or non-Muslims.

In private, Swedes are as never before expressing concern over the demographic changes to their society and concern that their long-standing Jewish minority are under existential threat–Jews have lived here for almost 250 years, yet synagogues and other Jewish facilities require police protection, something no other minority group has ever needed in this country.

Meanwhile, the most important tone-setter in this country–the media–is still largely committed to a political agenda that sees vilification of the Jewish state as a legitimate means of bringing about its demise. The mainstream Swedish media–the national and local newspapers, state-funded radio and TV–are traditionally and still are openly anti-Israel. Swedish Radio and Swedish TV are both widely perceived as mouthpieces for pro-Palestinian activist groups. At an inter-faith rally in Gothenburg recently, a non-political event designed to bring together followers of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and whose sole banner read “A prayer for peace,” Gothenburg’s largest daily GP labelled the event an “anti-war rally,” in other words, opposing Israel’s policy in Gaza, something the organizers vehemently deny. The organizers were never asked for their comments.

One of the most active advocates against the Jewish state is news agency TT, the Swedish equivalent of Reuters or AFP. TT is 80 percent owned by the country’s six biggest dailies, so its politically filtered news is automatically spread to 80 percent of the country’s newspaper readers and to Swedish TV teletext news consumers. TT relies on three main strategies: deletion of news items that do not match its agenda, mistranslation of news or quotes to suit its agenda, and the insertion of lies in a stream of otherwise genuine news items.

Many journalists adopt TT’s strategy. This explains why anti-Semitism is once again on the rise in Sweden. It also helps explain why specifically Jewish targets are selected whenever the conflict in the Middle East takes a turn for the worse–all Jews are by definition made collectively responsible for the actions of Israel. While the vast majority of Jews in Sweden are unequivocal and proud in their support of the Jewish state, this strategy is aimed at making Swedish Jews directly responsible for Israel’s actions.

More here. KGS

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