The Jewish Association in Umeå, Sweden, decided on Sunday to cease its activities and close its center in the wake of increasing Nazi threats. Recent days have seen the organization’s premises vandalized with swastikas and threatening messages like “we know where you live.” According to SVT News Västerbotten, the association’s spokeswoman also received an intimidating visit to her own home.
“Too many things have happened lately which mean that Jewish parents don’t feel safe having their kids at the schools,” the spokeswoman, Carinne Sjöberg, told SVT. “Our children shouldn’t need to live in a world where they have to be ashamed for what they are, but it’s not possible to operate if people are scared.”
The Umeå Jewish Association is no stranger to anti-Semitism. In November 2015, the group was pointedly not invited to the Socialist party’s official Kristallnacht commemoration, thus effectively excluding the Jewish community from marking a key moment in their own genocide. The reason given by a top Socialist party official: the organizers of the memorial couldn’t guarantee the Jews’ safety at the left-wing event, which was known to attract extremists brandishing signs likening Israel to Nazi Germany. Instead of excluding the anti-Semites, in other words, the party opted to exclude the Jews they menaced. The incident was condemned at the time by the Anti-Defamation League.
Umeå is not an outlier in its treatment of Jews, who find themselves assailed in Sweden by extremists of all stripes. A study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found that 60 percent of the country’s 18,000 Jews fear to publicly identify as Jewish. The Jewish community has been the target of a string of anti-Semitic attacks, and some anti-Jewish bigotry has even seeped into the country’s elite discourse.