Sweden: the Face of Anti-Semitism Today

by A. Jay Adler on August 24, 2009
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Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, the largest circulation newspaper in Nordic Europe, produces a prima facie instance of anti-Semitic slander – an article by Donald Boström headlined “They plunder the organs of our sons.” Offering no evidence, the article reports the accusation of a Palestinian family that Israeli Defense Forces are engaged in organ harvesting from Palestinians and demands an international inquiry. Rival paper Sydsvenskan fiercely condemns the obvious, virulent anti-Semitism. Swedish ambassador to Israel Elisabet Borsiin blood libelcondemns the article. What does the Swedish government do? It disavows the ambassador’s comments and despite calls for a statement of denunciation, from Israel and others, refuses, claiming respect for freedom of speech.

The blood libel lives, in the modern world, propagated not only in the form of fearful Palestinians nurtured in conditions of direct conflict with Israel to demonize their enemy, but still in the cultural institutions and the more “enlightened” modern political ideologies of a supposedly transformed post World War II Europe. Aftonbladet identifies itself as Social Democratic in leanings and it is partly owned by the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, a confederation founded by the Swedish Social Democratic Party. While far right anti-Semitism never disappears, the hatred is a growth industry on the radical left, particularly in Europe, but in the U.S. too. Today, it frequently masquerades as criticism of Israel, but the engine of it, working in tandem with the age-old unreason of primal hatred, is leftist ideologies and cultural analyses of power.

Regarding Phillip Weiss and the Mondoweiss blog, a perpetual anti-Semitic screed under the guise of a pro-Palestinian action-journalism center, a reader, Andrew Michael W. wrote

The saddest thing is that Phil thinks about the same things neo-nazis think about – Jewish power. They project a sentiment onto the Jews – tribalism, where the Jews compete against whites and others for power. But it is really just neo-nazis who are tribal for no logical reason. Phil views Zionism as the tribalism the neo-nazis see. Zionism empowered Jews and because he sees it as an overall negative since the Palestinians suffered, he believes everything power related involving Jews is ill gotten.

This is very astute. Weiss is not just anti-Israel, i.e. an opponent of the state’s existence. He is a committed assimilationist, frequently arguing that Jews have reached such an ascendency of power in the U.S., become so embedded in the establishment, that the need for a distinct (tribal) identity – one that requires care and protection – is no more. Of course, this feeds nativist, far right anti-Semitic tendencies, the kind that have always begun, in ideation, with Jewish clandestine power and subterranean activities – like draining and using the blood of Christian children – and progressed to clarion calls to counter a rising threat. But established Jewish power engenders no greater comfort on the radical left.

In fact, distortions of post-colonial analyses provide the ground for opposing not subterranean, but state Jewish power. At the end of the spectrum where Jews once found their natural political defenders and advocates, their rise to organized power in the U.S. – the bogeyman “lobby” – and their creation of a state that has thus far prevailed over its enemies, rising in ascendency over a group preferred by the radical, “other” worshipping left for its powerlessness: all this has alienated the nation-aspirant Jew – the Israeli, the Israel supporting Jew – from ideological favor. Once more, in new ways, the Jew cannot be integrated unless, as Weiss would have it, the Jew cease to be a Jew. So we get the intellectual monstrosity of the leftist heirs of a centuries-old regime of European anti-Semitism and half a millennium of colonial conquest and genocide viciously condemning as colonial racists and Nazified perpetrators of genocide the victims of the greatest organized genocide of them all, who for that entire history didn’t have a country, never mind a colony.

For the modern European left, the ascendant Jew is as disturbing as was the ostracized Jew for the old European right. Once more, a weak-willed Europe that repeatedly demonstrates an unwillingness to bear the burdens of its own defense, and intellectually debilitated by self-regard for its (underwritten) secular, social achievements, is troubled by the Jew, the Israeli, who, in contrast, will – must – do the dirty work of defending himself. So now it is not the secretive, submissive Jew draining blood; it is the secretive, oppressive Jew harvesting organs.

But Sweden believes in the right of free speech. The right of the anti-Semite to slander. But not the government’s own right – no, its responsibility – to say, “This is wrong.”


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