It was Friday 13 November when I, being the football fanatic that I am, watched the France-Germany friendly and heard a noise so familiar to me. Being Israeli, I understood immediately what happened. I instinctively said to my wife ‘’Oh dear, terrible attack in Paris’’, and I also wondered how long it would take for someone to blame the Jews, and who might be the first to do it.
The wait did not last for long. Margot Wallstrom, the Swedish Foreign Minister struck first: ‘’To counteract the radicalization we must go back to the situation such as the one in the Middle East in which not at least the Palestinians see that there is no future; we must either accept a desperate situation or resort to violence’’. This is what she said 12 hours after the attack. Even for Ms. Wallstrom, well known for a lot of not so clever statements in the past, it was a little too much.
I am not going to follow the FM of Sweden who talk in collective terms, and relate to the entire Swedish people as being responsible for such a statement. I, as a Jew, may have good reasons to feel resentment towards Sweden, the nation which was neutral in the Second World War, while making the Nazi war machine working by supplying Germany the iron ore without which there could not be a Nazi war machine. But then I remember also that many Swedes, as well as Danes, participated in October 1943 in the heroic and memorable rescue operation of thousands of Danish Jews. Still, I can go on with historic memories, such as the high rate of Swedish volunteers to the SS Viking Division, and refer also to the more recent past, when the Mayor of Malmo all but justified anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish citizens of his city during the Israeli-Palestinian fighting in Gaza.
No, I am not trying to score points with my Swedish readers by saying, that despite all the above, I, for one, am not anti-Swedish, and I truly am not. I still have great memories of my previous visits there (though not in the winter…). However, judging by reactions in Israel I know that many Israelis and Jews elsewhere think that Wallstrom is simply an anti-Semitic nut, and they also think that this is to be expected from a Swedish FM. I may not differ, but I think, that there are other possible explanations.
Let us start with sheer ignorance. ISIS published the reasons for their attacks in Paris. They referred to Paris being the capital of sin and vice, and also to the French participation in the international coalition against them in Syria. The terrorists also threatened to attack Washington and occupy Rome. They did not mention Israel, so why did Wallstrom confuse the facts? She implicitly connected the Palestinians to the attacks, but alas, even Hamas condemned them. Maybe they did not mean it, but they did condemn the attacks. It is beyond ignorance. Now, it is also stupidity on the part of the distinguished FM of Sweden.
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"Even for Ms. Wallstrom, well known for a lot of not so clever statements in the past, it was a little too much"
Then, ISIS referred also to the modern Western Crusaders, the European Christians who invaded the Land Of Israel as known by the Jews, or Holy Land for the Christians and Palestine for the Muslims, and on their way, inflicted an Holocaust on the Jews of Germany and France. This is history, Ms. Wallstrom. Did you take any history classes in your high school or college? Uppsala, by the way, is a great university.
It is the complete misunderstanding of the Middle East which is behind Ms. Wallstrom’s statements. Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and possibly other countries in the Middle East are collapsing, not because of or despite the Palestinian-Arab-Israeli conflict, rather regardless of all that. You want to know the reasons for that Ms. Wallstrom? Well, at least one possible reason. It is called sectarianism, the SUSHI WAR (Sunnis vs. Shiites), a war starting much before there was Israel.
The Jihadists know better than Ms. Wallstrom, as they let us know why they do what they do. They blame the West, and Sweden is part of the West. When they murdered Sadat on 6 October 1981, they published a manifesto of 20 points explaining the assassination. Peace with Israel was no.19 on the list. The leader of the gang was Hayman Al Zawahiri, the current leader of Al-Qa’ida.
And yes, the Jihadists hate Israel, they want to destroy her, and they will kill as many Jews as they possibly can. They may have targeted the theatre in Paris, owned by Jews, for that exact reason. But they also targeted the Stade De France and an Asian restaurant. They will strike everywhere they can, hopefully never in Sweden, but I cannot guarantee it. To be sure, they will not refrain from attacking Sweden because of the statements of Ms. Wallstrom. Somehow, I am convinced that in a cave in Iraq or in Syria, some ISIS leaders are laughing out loud reading her statements. After all, they know better...
So, going back to Ms. Wallstrom: anti-Semitic? Who knows, she surely will deny it, maybe even saying that some of her best friends are Jews. Surely though, she is somebody who knows and understands nothing about the Middle East. Sweden deserves a better FM, and Israel and the Jews will survive even Ms. Wallstrom.