The Swedish Left's Judaism
Despite the fact that the Left in Sweden tends to preach about tolerance, one can find several examples that they show intolerance. One of the best examples is the Left's views on Judaism. The Left in Sweden do not tolerate Judaism as it is, with a connection to the state of Israel, but have revised Judaism and created a new Judaism that is separate from Israel. This has been done by accusing Jews who sympathize with Israel, to be right-wing extremists while promoting Jews who reject Israel. Jews who hate Israel are seen as heroes while Jews who defend Israel can be attacked with physical violence on the street. In this way you create an incentive for Jews to distance themselves from Israel.
Actually, the idea that Jews should return to Israel always existed within Judaism. The exception is a period between the 1850s to the end of the Second World War, when Reform Judaism saw the diaspora as a positive state for the Jews. 1976, Reform Judaism officially distanced itself from this position.
The fact that a particular religion is tied to a country is nothing strange. Islam's holy land is Saudi Arabia where the cities of Mecca and Medina are located. Saudi Arabia is governed by a corrupt regime that commits terrible atrocities. But the Swedish Left does not expect that all Muslims should actively distance themselves from the country of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia was founded only 16 years before Israel was founded, after a thirty-year war between Arab tribes.
Another example is Hinduism which sees India as its holy land. When India was established in 1947, as a result of the chaotic refugee flows between India and Pakistan, half a million people were murdered and 100,000 women were raped. In its struggle against religious and ethnic guerrilla organizations the Indian military and police are constantly committing atrocities. But nobody requires that all Hindus should reject India.
But Judaism is treated differently. Jews who sympathize with Israel are labeled as right-wing extremists or fascists. Most of the world's Jews celebrate Israel's Independence day, Yom Ha'atzmaut, as a religious holiday. Those Jews who do not celebrate this day include the various sects that are against Israel's existence.
This means that the Jews in Sweden who reject Israel are quite lonely and represent only themselves. Unfortunately, the Swedish Left is using Jews who reject Israel to legitimize a harsher rhetoric against Israel, with a hint of anti-Semitism. Such rhetoric would be considered racist if it were non-Jews who were behind it. It is still racism when Jews account for this rhetoric but it is racism with some make-up.
The Jews who support the Swedish Left's revised Judaism are more victims than perpetrators. They are forced against their better judgment to compare Israel to the Nazis and show sympathy with Palestinian regimes that systematically are spreading anti-Semitism. These Jews who support leftist revised Judaism must demonstrate an understanding of Jew-hatred, which must be painful for them and their families.
The Swedish Left's efforts to create a rift between Judaism and Israel is based on intolerance and ignorance. Bente Groth, Norwegian historian of religion, who worked at the University of Oslo and has written several books on Judaism, writes in the book "Judaism - culture, history, tradition":
"The creation of the state of Israel has for many Jews become a theological response to the Holocaust, not only a political one. This is something you should remind yourself of when you are studying the Middle East conflict today."(My translation from Swedish)
Forcing Jews to distance themselves from Israel through threats and intimidation is forcing Jews to limit the exercise of their religion. That's what the Left in Sweden wants to do through a rhetoric that makes life dangerous for all Jews who show any sympathy for the state of Israel.
In Malmö(Sweden's third largest city), the main argument against anti-Semitism has become that all Jews do not support Israel and therefore you should not attack Jews. Siavosh Derakhti, founder and leader of Youths against anti-Semitism and xenophobia, who have received the Elsa award from Swedish Committe Against Antisemitism, and the Raoul Wallenberg prize for his struggle against anti-Semitism, writes in an opinion piece in the Swedish website Newsmill:
"When you think of Israeli policies and military you do not mean the Israeli people or Jews. It is wrong and unacceptable to blame the responsibility on the Jewish people when Israel's policy is handled by the politicians in their government and not by Jews in other countries. Even the population of Israel can be against Israeli policies. We mean Israel's policy, then we mean when they attack and occupy certain areas in Palestine. We are against those military attacks."(my translation from Swedish)
So even when the Swedish Left fights against anti-Semitism there is a distinction between Jews who support Israel and Jews who are "against Israeli policies." The Left tries to distinguish between Israel and the "Jews in other countries." So the question is what will happen to the Jews who support or sympathize with the state of Israel? Do they deserve anti-Semitism? The logical conclusion of Siavosh Derakhtis rhetoric gives an affirmative answer to the question or does not answer the question.
The Left's message to the Jews in Sweden is clear. They need to distance themselves from Israel or face the consequences of their theological / political positions. The warning comes sometimes aggressively as when former mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, blames anti-Semitism in Malmö on Jews that show sympathy for Israel, or conveyed between the lines like when Siavosh Derakhti promotes the Jews who reject Israel's policies.
But you can not change a world religion through harassment and intimidation. Sweden can not function as an isolated part of the world where Jews reject Israel and Judaism, while the Jews in the rest of the world have a strong connection to Israel. The Swedish Left's pressure on Judaism and Jews will result in more anti-Semitism. Perhaps some Jews will distance themselves from Israel but most Jews will leave Sweden. The Left must stop stigmatizing Israel and let the Jews have the same relationship to Israel as Muslims have to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia or that Hindus have to India.
Nima Gholam Ali Pour
Representative for Perspective on Israel
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