An Enemy By Any Other Name

 

We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and salaries for this bear’s work, that is its affair. We do not come as friends, nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies. As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come. — Joseph Goebbels, on Democracy

A few weeks ago, my country of Sweden got a new government. Or, it’s not so much a new government, but a return to a past I had hoped was long forgotten. Chances are most outsiders wouldn’t have heard of this electoral upheaval, had it not been for one of the new government’s first forays into foreign policy: recognizing the state of Palestine, making it the first major European country to do so. But for those of familiar with Sweden’s the political landscape, this has been a long time coming.

The Social Democrats are a party with a long pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli tradition and a seemingly never-ending flexibility toward anti-Semitic attitudes within the flock; from former Prime Minister Olof Palme’s close friendship with Yasser Arafat and his comparisons between Nazi Germany and Israel, to the infamous anti-Zionist policies of Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu. More recently, the popular politician Adrian Kaba publicly claimed that Mossad trained ISIS to kill Muslims and that the Islamic State is a pawn in a Jewish-European right-wing conspiracy.

One might think that such outlandish statements would cause national outrage, but they don’t. One might also draw the conclusion that spreading anti-Semitic myths might lead to Adrian Kaba leaving the Social Democratic party in disgrace, but one would by sadly mistaken. Instead, Kaba is heading up the Malmö Taskforce Against Anti-Semitism and Islamofobia. No, that’s not a typo; that’s the political environment of the country I live in.

As a proud, public, and outspoken Swedish Jew, I am often asked if I worry about getting attacked on the street for wearing my Star of David, or having my home vandalized for flying a large Israeli flag. My answer is always the same: as much as I fear violent anti-Semitic individuals, it doesn’t compare to how much I fear the systemic anti-Semitism eating its way into our political system.

The Swedish decision to recognize the State of Palestine may seem like a thoughtless stunt from a small country, but it speaks to a larger trend with grave consequences for us all. As the anti-Semitism of yesterday dresses up as the anti-Zionism of tomorrow, the latter gains political momentum to do what the former never could. The coalition of the Social Democrats, the Left, and the Environmental Party was elected not in spite of these policies, but because of them. They are not attempting a coup; they are fulfilling a promise.

One of the newly appointed ministers in the new coalition government is Mehmet Kaplan of the Environmental Party (MP). Mr. Kaplan is no longer allowed entry into Israel after his active and repeated involvement in Ship to Gaza. He has compared Swedish Muslims going overseas to fight global jihad with Swedish freedom fighters during the Finnish Winter War and he is often a prominent speaker at anti-Israel rallies across the country. During one of these rallies Mehmet Kaplan said his dream was to one day see Jerusalem “liberated,” without caring to specify whom the capitol of Israel needed to be liberated from. This former head of the Swedish Muslim council and current member of the Free Gaza movement has now been appointed the Swedish Minister of housing and development, making him one of the most powerful people in our land.

This is what keeps me up at night. If I get attacked for wearing my Magen David, I turn to the police who can correct the wrong that was done to me. But what to I do when my attacker is appointed to one of the highest offices in the land? Who will protect me when I am no longer considered the victim, but the criminal?

In 1933, they cast their votes for death and ruin, but they did so claiming ignorance of what was yet to come. Those who are now putting hatred in power all over Europe do so to the backdrop of the Holocaust; as the last witnesses draw breath, history is allowed to repeat itself by ballot and popular vote.

However expected, this latest turn in Swedish foreign policy is chilling in all its calm deliberation. Because this is how it starts and how it ends. Not by committing illegal acts toward us, but by making us illegal, and by going after the home we flee to once we have no place left to go.

In 2014, they cast their votes for hate and ruin. And as the wolf bursts into the flock, so they have come.

There are 12 comments.

  1. Inactive

    It is remarkable how this wolf re-enters the world wearing the clothing of “tolerance”…

    • #1
    • October 7, 2014 at 7:52 am
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  2. Member

    Annika Hernroth-Rothstein: The Swedish decision to recognize the State of Palestine may seem like a thoughtless stunt from a small country, but it speaks to a larger trend with grave consequences for us all. As the anti-Semitism of yesterday dresses up as the anti-Zionism of tomorrow, the latter gains political momentum to do what the former never could. The coalition of the Social Democrats, the Left, and the Environmental Party was elected not in spite of these policies, but because of them. They are not attempting a coup; they are fulfilling a promise.

    As a non-Swede, non-Jew I can only try to fully comprehend what for you is up close and personal. It seems to me that your Goebbels lead is perfect; we are saturated daily by what he and his American “heroes” then called propaganda and we now softly and witlessly call merely “spin”. Our daily over consumption “spin” makes us willing to hand out free tickets and salaries to the wolves and unwilling to study the past out of fear/angst that despite our best efforts wolves will be wolves. And of course they are.

    Yet I see in what you describe with particularity something wider and nearly as troublesome: the eagerness of the world-wide willing believers in a “third way” to hang onto their repeatedly discredited notion that superior minds with superior intentions (and enough legislation and wealth-transfer) can “immanentize the eschaton.” Hang onto your seats: it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Again.

    • #2
    • October 7, 2014 at 7:55 am
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  3. Thatcher

    “In 1933, they cast their votes for death and ruin, but they did so claiming ignorance of what was yet to come. Those who are now putting hatred in power all over Europe do so to the backdrop of the Holocaust; as the last witnesses draw breath, history is allowed to repeat itself by ballot and popular vote.

    However expected, this latest turn in Swedish foreign policy is chilling in all its calm deliberation. Because this is how it starts and how it ends. Not by committing illegal acts toward us, but by making us illegal, and by going after the home we flee to once we have no place left to go.”

    This is so true. Monstrosities are often hidden behind a veil of legality. It makes things so much easier when people are picked up from the streets in broad daylight, when property is confiscated. It will be supposed they must be in the wrong….criminals not victims.

    • #3
    • October 7, 2014 at 7:58 am
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  4. Thatcher

    A chilling piece, Annika.

    • #4
    • October 7, 2014 at 8:08 am
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  5. Inactive

    The anti-Semites, in their malevolence and hatred, paradoxically prove the necessity for Israel to exist. Unlike the 1930s, Jews today can make Aliyah.

    • #5
    • October 7, 2014 at 9:25 am
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  6. Member

    Get out as soon as you can.

    • #6
    • October 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm
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  7. Member

    Annika, I realize that the anti-semitism you describe is home-grown, but what is your sense of the effect on Sweden, if any, of the policies of the current American administration? I am thinking of Obama’s general withdrawal from our responsibilities abroad, his apparent passivity toward Iranian aggression, and perhaps most important, his harshness toward Israel.

    • #7
    • October 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm
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  8. Thatcher

    Be safe, Annika. Those wolves won’t be domesticated any time soon.

    • #8
    • October 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm
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  9. Thatcher

    This is the problem with the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force.

    • #9
    • October 7, 2014 at 5:02 pm
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  10. Inactive

    This is deeply depressing. The left is shutting down speech everywhere. I begin to think that we are reliving the horrible 20th century. I mean, it ended well, but the beginning and the middle sucked. Maybe this one will end well too, but most of us won’t see it, we’ll just get the bad stuff in the beginning and the middle.

    Isn’t there any way you can come to live here? Not that we’re any great shakes right now, but at least we don’t have rampant anti-antisemitism nor bombs falling from the sky.

    • #10
    • October 7, 2014 at 6:18 pm
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  11. Member

    This is truly depressing. If safety for Jews in Sweden depends on the country refusing to recognise Palestinians as full human beings with equal rights and responsibilities to others (including Israelis) then it’s truly mystifying.

    • #11
    • October 8, 2014 at 7:56 am
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  12. Member

    Fox News this morning had a piece about an 0pinion survey at Harvard University – according to Harvard students the number one danger to world peace is US imperialism. So at least we don’t blame all the world’s problems on the Jews.

    • #12
    • October 8, 2014 at 2:02 pm
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