Op-Ed | Jews feel abandoned when they no longer align with prevailing narratives - World Jewish Congress

Op-Ed | Jews feel abandoned when they no longer align with prevailing narratives

Hanna Nir
Hanna Nir
President of the Jewish Youth Association in Sweden (JUS)
Petra Kahn Nord
Petra Kahn Nord
Nordic Representative of the World Jewish Congress (WJC)
Op-Ed | Jews feel abandoned when they no longer align with prevailing narratives

Antisemitism is on the rise, with Swedish Jews increasingly feeling insecure in public spaces – a concern validated by the police, who report a spike in antisemitic episodes following the Hamas terror assault on October 7. 

In the lead-up to the 2022 elections, Sweden's Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson's social media was repleted with references to Holocaust survivor Hédi Fried, signaling a protest of the Moderate Party's association with the Sweden Democrats. 

But when the largest massacre of Jews in modern times takes place, followed by a wave of antisemitism that washes over the world, the same people who have just been outraged on social media are silent.  

During the last election campaign, several parties used the Jews as a political tool, warning about the repetition of the 1930s and reminding people of the lessons of the Holocaust. It appears, though, that these arguments were not rooted in genuine concern for the Jewish community. 

It is inappropriate to politicize the Holocaust and remain silent while the masses celebrate Hamas’s murder of Jewish infants. Many who believe they would have resisted in the 1930s now share protest venues with those endorsing Hamas and its reprehensibly violent deeds. 

They do not even react when fellow protesters chant "From the river to the sea", which is a direct call for the destruction of Israel, or antisemitic chants in Arabic that call for the murder and ethnic cleansing of Jews.  

The malice observed on social media and in public arenas must be collectively and unconditionally repudiated by all political parties. The public celebration of Jewish massacres, coinciding with the acknowledgment of terror attacks in Israel, observed in Swedish cities such as Helsingborg and Kristianstad, and subsequently in larger demonstrations in Malmö and Stockholm, should not be rationalized, downplayed, or glossed over. 

Jewish students at universities grapple with a sense of vulnerability, Jewish parents hesitate to send their children to educational institutions, and Jewish organizations suspend events that are unable to vouch for safety. Yet, numerous politicians, particularly from the left, inadvertently play into Hamas's hands by propagating its rhetoric and casting aspersions on Israel. 

Support for Israel's right to self-defense against such attacks, aimed explicitly at killing as many civilians as possible, should be a given. Holding Israel to a standard not expected of any other democracy is deemed antisemitic by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism, which was embraced by Stefan Löfven’s government in 2020 but is disregarded by today's left-wing factions. 

Although civilian harm should be avoided – a principle Israel strives to uphold, unlike Hamas – the grim reality of warfare is that it invariably leads to civilian losses, despite efforts to prevent them. Consequently, a debate on minimizing civilian harm is warranted. 

In Sweden, however, this debate has been overshadowed by a concerning tolerance or outright backing for Hamas, and a simultaneous faulting of Israel and the Jews, which is disgraceful and plays directly into Hamas's objectives. 

Antisemitism must be combated jointly by all righteous forces. Every political party and influencer must unhesitatingly demonstrate Sweden’s solidarity against antisemitism. This transcends Jewish safety and touches on the essence of defending the just and opposing the unjust. The denouncement of antisemitism must always transcend political agendas. 

This article was originally published in Swedish by Expressen.