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The Campaign Against Scandinavian Jewry

Troubling news from Sweden, Denmark, and Finland

Adam Chandler
October 03, 2012
The JCC in Malmö Following Last Week's Attack(AFP)

The JCC in Malmö Following Last Week’s Attack(AFP)

Earlier this year, we ran an article by Paulina Neuding highlighting the rise of anti-Semitism in Sweden. Chillingly, it began:

The store window had been smashed many times before. The shoe-repair shop is located in one of the rougher parts of Malmö, Sweden, and the Jewish owner, a native of the city, had gotten used to this sort of vandalism. But in the spring of 2004, a group of immigrants just under the age of 15—too young to be prosecuted by Swedish law—walked into the store yelling about “damn Jews.” The owner was hit in the face by one of the boys. Yasha, an 85-year-old customer and relative of mine, was struck in the back of his head. The doctor who received him at the emergency room concluded that he must have been hit with a blunt object. “I left Poland to get away from anti-Semitism,” he later told the police. “But at least there I never experienced any violence. That only happened to me here, in Sweden.”

If this had been another story about a resurgence of anti-Semitism in impoverished outskirts of European cities or the failure of multiculturalism, it might have been easier to dismiss the trend as something that’s only taking hold along the margins. But Neuding’s story was about Ilmar Reepalu, Malmö’s mayor for seventeen years now, who has blamed Swedish Jews themselves for the rise in anti-Semitism and called on them to oppose Israel’s policies of “genocide.” She indicted other Swedish politicians for their deafness on the issue.

No doubt taking the cue from high-level hand-washings like this, terrorists struck the heart of Malmö’s Jewish community last week when an explosion rocked the city’s Jewish Community Center. There were no injuries reported and the news did not make major headlines, but the disturbing graduation from rocks against shop windows to blasts at community centers should be noticed. Next week we’ll have another dispatch from Neuding about the recent goings on in Sweden.

A few hundred miles northeast, the third largest political party in Finland announced that it planned to introduce a new bill to ban ritual circumcision. The party’s name: True Finns. The lead lawmaker’s age: 28.

Meanwhile, just miles west of Malmö, the circumcision debate has begun anew in Copenhagen accompanied by some nasty rhetoric and caricature by proponents of a ban and the media.

If one zooms out just a little further, Jewish Europe, between talks of kippah bans in France, discussions of a ban on ritual slaughter in the Netherlands, and a court ruling against circumcision in Germany (coupled with seemingly countless attacks and desecrations), is facing a new wave of threats against it. While some anti-Semitic trends have begun at the seams, they are also appearing to take root in the center, in efforts to legislate against Jewish tradition in governments and court houses. While the tone of the language may sound different when uttered from a podium instead of graffitied on a wall or synagogue, the message is the same. And it’s not good.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.