Ahead of the Malmö International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism next month, the Swedish government released over a half a dozen pledges to combat the rise of antisemitism and create a more vibrant Jewish life.
In a joint opinion piece outlining the pledges, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, Minister for Gender Equality and Housing Märta Stenevi, Minister of Education Anna Ekström, and Minister of Culture and Democracy Amanda Lind wrote, “Hatred of Jews is a poison in our society. Antisemitic hate crimes and incidents are becoming more common, both in Sweden and in the rest of the world. It's frightening and requires us to act. Every form of racism must be fought.”
“Hatred of Jews exists in our history, in right-wing extremist groups, in parts of the left and in Islamist circles. We see antisemitism among adults and children who have fled to Sweden from countries where antisemitism is spread in schools and by state propaganda. We see conspiracy myths on social media and how the memory of the Holocaust is distorted and exploited for political purposes,” they stated.
The government pledged to devote resources to “democracy-strengthening initiatives in schools, public education and other education for adults with the aim of counteracting antisemitism and other forms of racism,” adding that Sweden is considering using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism in building this curriculum. Similarly, Sweden pledged to open the Swedish Museum of the Holocaust to visitors by July 2022.
Educational resources such as Shoah Foundation’s Dimensions in Testimony, which enables people to ask questions that prompt real-time responses from pre-recorded video interviews of Holocaust survivors will be translated into Swedish.
The government will also be more proactive in tackling antisemitism and bigotry head-on, they wrote. For instance, it will evaluate whether Holocaust denial should be criminalized. To further protect the Jewish community, it will consider increasing funding for security-enhancing measures for Jewish and other religious communities.
Promising to promote and strengthen Jewish life, the government pledged to publish a report and pledged permanent resources to the establishment of Yiddish and Romani language centers.
The forum, originally scheduled to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will focus on Holocaust remembrance, education, and research in order to combat antisemitism and racism, and encourage countries submit pledges to this effect.
At the end of March 2022, Sweden will assume the IHRA presidency.