With Sweden’s Foreign Minister vowing to “fight with and for” the Palestinians at a virulently anti-Israel event hosted by the PLO in Stockholm, the Jewish state may need to look elsewhere for Scandinavian allies.
By: Daniel Krygier
Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström recently attended a Nakba exhibition hosted by PLO’s office in the Swedish capital Stockholm. Addressing the crowd, Wallström did not hide her pro-Arab bias: ”You know how much we care about Palestine, you know that we are a friend of Palestine, that we will continue to hopefully fight with you and for you and we will fight for a two-state solution.”
Wallström was displaying double-speak in the spirit of her colleague, PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas. Wallström’s alleged support of the two-state solution was eroded by her support of PLO’s Nakba ideology that rejects the Jewish state’s right to exist within any borders.
During Wallström’s tenure as foreign minister, Sweden has emerged as one of Israel’s harshest critics in Europe. Wallström played an instrumental role in Sweden’s decision to become the first European country to recognize “Palestine” as a state in 2014. During a wave of Arab terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, Wallström demanded an international probe to determine whether Israel, which exercised the universal right of self-defense, was guilty of “extrajudicial killings.”
Wallström also linked the Islamist terror attacks in Paris in 2015 to the Arab-Israeli conflict, insinuating that Israel should be blamed for Islamist terrorism in Europe.
Strained relations between Stockholm and Jerusalem
While many Swedish individuals support Israel, the strained relations between Stockholm and Jerusalem predate Wallström. During the First Lebanon War in 1982, the late Swedish Socialist Prime Minister Olof Palme became the first senior Western leader to compare Israel’s treatment of Arab children with Nazi Germany’s treatment of Jewish children.
This Orwellian distortion of reality revealed more about Sweden’s troubled history than about the Arab-Israeli conflict. While officially claiming neutrality, Sweden’s pro-German policies during much of World War II, included exporting iron to the Nazi German war industry and the invention of putting the letter J in passports of Jewish individuals seeking to escape Nazi persecution.
This sealed the fate for numerous Jews seeking to reach countries professing neutrality, such as Sweden and Switzerland.
Like many of her political predecessors, Wallström was schooled in Palme’s ideology, which supports developing nations’ regimes against the US and Israel.
Sweden emerged after the Second World War as a self-appointed leader of morality, democracy and human rights. As a threatened democracy fighting for its existence in a hostile environment, Israel should have been a natural partner for Sweden. However, with few exceptions, such as the former Swedish liberal Deputy Prime Minister Per Ahlmark, Stockholm has frequently sided with Israel’s despotic and violent Arab neighbors.
There are several reasons for Sweden’s anti-Israel policies. Sweden’s large and growing Muslim population has become an increasingly important factor in national elections. By contrast, the tiny Jewish minority is fading away.
Sweden’s political leadership also has a long tradition of supporting what it perceives as the underdog. By narrowly defining the Arab-Israeli conflict as a conflict between Israel and the PLO, and ignoring the vast Arab world, Stockholm has systematically embraced the Palestinians as underdogs.
Domestically, Sweden’s ruling socialist government has increasingly promoted “multiculturalism” and diluted Swedish culture and identity. This state-sanctioned political correctness has led to deep divisions within Swedish society that could play a significant role in the upcoming elections in September 2018. Only time will tell what impact it could have on future Swedish-Israeli relations.