Shame on You Sweden for Telling Israel the Truth

Israel, an occupying state that brutally expels refugees and asylum seekers, is preaching morality to the closest thing there is today to a model state.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who remarks on terror drew condemnationa from Israel, attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in Stockholm, Oct. 30, 2014.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who remarks on terror drew Israeli condemnations, attends a news conference at the Rosenbad government building in Stockholm, Oct. 30, 2014.Credit: AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Here’s another record for Israeli chutzpah: Israel excoriating Sweden and lecturing it on morality. An occupying state, which defies international law and the decisions of the international community, which brutally expels refugees and asylum seekers, preaches morality to Sweden, the closest thing there is today to a model state. The Swedish ambassador to Israel was again “summoned” for a “clarification,” or perhaps it was a reprimand. Once again Israel was going to give it to Sweden for speaking carelessly, and teach it a lesson it wouldn’t soon forget.

The Swedish envoy, Carl Magnus Nesser, is already used to these stupid sessions dictated by diplomatic protocol. In October of last year he was also “reprimanded” by the Foreign Ministry, because his country dared to recognize a Palestinian state – shame on you, Sweden! Now he got another threatening finger-wagging from Israel, the world’s instructor, because of Jerusalem’s twisted interpretation of remarks by the Swedish foreign minister, who said some accurate things about the connection between terror and despair. Margot Wallström immediately explained that she hadn’t meant to link the events in Paris last week to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but Israel, of course, will never miss an opportunity to lash out at the world, especially when we’re talking about this righteous Nordic country, which drives Israel crazy with its morality.

Nothing Wallström said was worthy of Israel’s brutal, cynical attack. It’s too bad that this principled minister, whose government canceled an arms deal with Saudi Arabia because of the violations of human rights there, fell into Israel’s trap and tried to justify herself – in vain, of course. She spoke the truth: There is a link between despair and terror. But Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s righteous prophet, who prefers the regimes of Belarus and Serbia over Sweden, said the remarks reminded him of “Sweden’s policy during World War II,” another escalation of Israeli chutzpah. And as always, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Wallström’s remarks “bordered on anti-Semitism.”

The Israeli scandal sheets didn’t miss the chance to inflame national passions, either, giving their readers exactly what they wanted by dubbing the incident “Stockholm Syndrome,” complete with the usual slander from its propagandistic commentators.

In truth, Israel ought to look up at Sweden with envy, admiration and awe. If Israel was indeed a light unto the nations, it would be acting like Sweden. Raoul Wallenberg was Swedish, and he saved thousands of Jews during the Holocaust, more than almost any country rescued. Now Sweden is rescuing hundreds of thousands of other refugees. About 1,000 asylum-seekers are streaming into Sweden every day, some 200,000 in 2015. Sweden has absorbed Iraqis, Afghans, Yugoslavians, Iranians, Eritreans and Somalis, and now it is taking in Syrians, 100,000 Syrians. Forty-four percent of Swedes said in a recent poll that they’re prepared to take in more refugees.

Doesn’t this remind you of Israel? Some $4.5 million dollars were collected at a Swedish charity concert, and all the country’s elites signed a petition on behalf of the refugees. Just like here. True, Sweden’s radical right is gaining strength, and Jews are reporting anti-Semitic outbursts, particularly in the migrant town of Malmo, but where is Israel compared to Sweden?

Indeed, Sweden is a model of a welfare state and social services that Israel can only dream about, even if some of its benefits are being rolled back. Sweden hasn’t fought a war since 1814, while Israel’s prime minister has promised its citizens that they will live eternally by the sword. A country with a population only slightly bigger than Israel is taking in 200,000 refugees this year, enabling most of them to live free and dignified lives.

There’s no need to dress things up; Sweden isn’t without its problems. But to think that Israel dare preach to such a country? Sweden, my love, if only you were Israel.

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