Sweden's Prime Minister outlines importance of fighting antisemitism
“Today’s opening actually marks a return to history – because during the war, the Swedish section [of the WJC] also became a hub for Danish and Norwegian Jews in exile,” Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, the event’s guest of honor, said, adding, “My government and I will not remain silent in the face of shrinking freedom for Swedish Jews. Not only will we continue our work to combat antisemitism, but we will also actively strengthen ... Jewish life in Sweden.”
Through diplomatic activity and with the support of Jewish communities in the region, the new office will bolster WJC’s presence and work to safeguard Jewish life in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
"The World Jewish Congress has had a strong connection to Sweden, dating back to when our Swedish Section worked to provide safe haven to Holocaust survivors in the 1940s,” WJC President Ronald S. Lauder said at the event, attended by representatives of more than 20 nations. “Today, as we combat antisemitism and educate others about Jewish life and culture, our broader presence will benefit Jewish communities across the region.”
Sweden holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union until June 30 and held the presidency of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) until Feb. 28. During its IHRA tenure, the country played a key role in implementing the pledges made at the 2021 Malmö Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
Leading the Nordic Office will be Petra Kahn Nord, WJC representative in the region and coordinator for the organization’s Religious Freedom Task Force. “WJC has a successful track record of working to support nearby Jewish communities,” she said. “Our expanded presence furthers our ability to cooperate with one another as we protect the rights of Jews to express their identity at a time of surging antisemitism.”
To mark the occasion, Sweden’s Jewish Museum developed a small exhibition featuring artifacts highlighting WJC’s role both during and after the Holocaust.
Earlier this year, WJC’s Religious Freedom Task Force partnered with the Jewish community of Finland to protect the rights of religious minorities, leading to the rejection of a proposal in that nation’s parliament to outlaw ritual slaughter.