Malmo Sweden: Jewish sites defaced, threats against Jews have increased; Many young Jewish families are leaving

World Jewish Congress:

Swedish mayor equates Zionism and anti-Semitism as Jews leave his city

29 January 2010

In an interview with the newspaper ‘Skånska Dagbladet’, the mayor of the Swedish city of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, has equated Zionism and anti-Semitism and said both were unacceptable. “We will neither accept Zionism nor anti-Semitism,” the Social Democratic politician was quoted as saying. He rejected allegations that anti-Semitism in his city – the third largest in Sweden, with 280,000 inhabitants  – was rampant, but said Jews should not have staged demonstrations in support of last year’s Israeli military offensive in Gaza. “I wish that the Jewish community had distanced itself from Israel’s violations of the civilian population in Gaza. Instead, they chose to hold a demonstration in the main city square, something that could send the wrong signals.”Fredrik Sieradzki of the local Jewish community told the newspaper ‘The Local’: “Threats against Jews have increased steadily in Malmö in recent years and . Many feel that the community and local politicians have shown a lack of understanding for how the city’s Jewish residents have been marginalized.”

In 2009, 79 crimes against Jewish residents were reported to the police in Malmö, about twice as many as the previous year, ‘Skånska Dagbladet’ reports. “That probably doesn’t tell the whole story because not everyone chose to make a report. Perhaps they fear they will add to an already infected situation,” Susanne Gosenius, a hate crimes expert with the regional police force, told the newspaper, which has published a series of articles about growing anti-Semitism in Malmö.

In addition, Jewish sites in the region have repeatedly been defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti, and a chapel at another Jewish burial site in Malmö was firebombed in January of last year. An estimated 3,000 Jews live in the south of Sweden, with most of them in the cities of Malmö, Helsingborg and Lund.

In the Spring of last year, Mayor Reepalu shut out spectators from the tennis Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel in Malmö, giving security as the official reason. However, a few weeks earlier, he had told a newspaper that in his view “one should not play a match against Israel at all in this situation.” He continued, “the issue is one of crimes against human rights. There is so much weighing against [Israel).”

Reepalu remained stubborn despite criticism from the International Tennis Federation, and he also rejected calls for the match to be moved to the Swedish capital Stockholm.

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