The British parliament, on October 13th, may be debating whether or not to recognize a Palestinian state.
Recognizing what in all likelihood would quickly become yet another Islamic terrorist state can only set a precedent that could have a disastrous impact on future negotiations and international law, and lead to the establishment yet more launching pads for people dedicated to violent jihad, not just in Israel, but, as they now openly admit, worldwide, including Britain and Sweden.
On October 3, newly elected Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven used his inaugural speech to announce a decision to recognize the "state of Palestine." In what must rank as one of the most self-contradictory statements in political history, he declared: "A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful co-existence. Sweden will therefore recognise the state of Palestine."
One might be forgiven for thinking that to become Prime Minister of an important First World country takes considerable political, social and diplomatic skills and some intelligence. Has Mr. Löfven never heard of the 1967 Khartoum Declaration that declares "No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel"? The Palestinians, and evidently the entire Arab world, still think like this, so where is the "mutual recognition" to appear from? While Palestinians and their supporters (including the Swedish left) chant, "Palestine will be free; From the river to the sea" (meaning that Israel will be replaced by a Palestinian state that, under Hamas, is more than likely to turn into another Islamic State), where is this "will to peaceful co-existence" supposed to come from? From the Hamas Charter, perhaps, whose thirteenth article unequivocally declares: "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.... There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors"? Or perhaps an inspiring example may be found in the twenty or so peace proposals Palestinian leaders have turned down flat in the past sixty-six years? Will Sweden's recognition bring peace and a "two-state solution" any closer? Or will it give the Palestinians greater encouragement to fight against the provisions of international law that legitimize Israel's right to exist and the call for two states in 1947? Will the Palestinians continue their demands for a one-state solution, giving them Gaza, the West Bank and all of Israel -- with the Jews now in Israel, Judaea and Samaria maybe allowed to live there on sufferance, as "tolerated" second-class-citizens, or dhimmis like the Christians, Kurds and Yazidis in Iraq, the Kurds in Syria, or the Copts in Egypt? Or will a current Palestinian state mean the death or expulsions of all the Jews in Israel -- for has not Mahmoud Abbas, the chief beneficiary of these ill-thought recognitions, declared: "In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli - civilian or soldier - on our lands"?
There is no Palestinian state to recognize in the first place: the Palestinians rejected the state they were offered by the UN in 1947, they have continued to reject it, and have for years been in breach of UN Resolution 242, to which they had agreed, that "Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force" since they demand withdrawal of Israel to the pre-1967 borders, something the resolution was carefully drafted to avoid. Unless Israel is given "secure and recognized boundaries." Such blasé repudiation of an internationally binding commitment is a breach only a totally illiterate politician would fail to see. So long as Israel is a state surrounded by violent countries such as Iran, Syria, Iranian-controlled Lebanon, Yemen -- as well as jihadist movements from Hamas to Hizbullah to Islamic State to Islamic Jihad, all overtly dedicated to its destruction -- no Palestinian state can be recognized.
Sweden was one of the best, most liberal of democracies, a perfect mix of modern social democracy and conservatism. In 2013, The Economist voted it and the other Nordic countries as the best-governed countries in the world -- with Sweden at the top. Sweden guaranteed freedom of the press in 1766; and its social advances from the 1840s onwards made it a model for democracy and individual freedoms. During World War II, it saved the lives of around 8,000 Jews from Denmark and Norway. It remains a creative country, producing great drama and a host of young musicians. On the face of it, Sweden seems to be as progressive and forward thinking a country among the Western democracies. So what went wrong?
Two things seem to have created problems in the land of the reindeer: the arrival of fundamentalist Islam and the introduction of political correctness and multiculturalism into a moderate socialist system that, ironically, made (and still makes) Sweden progressive and economically successful by embracing capitalism.
Much in Sweden is utterly at odds with orthodox Islam. Sweden is one of the world's most gender-egalitarian countries. Women voted (with limitations) in national elections as early as 1758, and with full suffrage from 1921. Sweden was the seventh country in the world to legalize gay marriage, after legalizing homosexual activity as early as 1944.
A majority of Swedes of Islamic origin today are secularists. But for the minority committed to a more rigorous view of the faith, it must be extremely uncomfortable to live in a country so tolerant of almost everything countermanded in shari'a law. That is where political correctness and multiculturalism -- the distorted products of an otherwise commendable opposition to racism and discrimination -- enter the scene, with governments bending over backwards (as also in the UK, Denmark and Norway) to accommodate the demands, in addition to the needs, of immigrant populations.
In 1947, about 2,000 immigrants arrived in Sweden; by 2007, this number had reached 100,000, with escalating figures for several decades, and a record intake in 2013.
Sweden has acted conscientiously in accordance with international and European human rights legislation, and has made serious efforts to integrate immigrants within its society. Despite these efforts, however, discrimination continues, leaving many immigrants unintegrated because of Swedes' reluctance to put reforms into practice.
Despite earnest efforts to turn immigrants into law-abiding Swedes, the intake of soaring numbers of unintegrated foreigners has started to backfire. A section of the large Arab and Muslim communities has led to the emergence of widespread criminal activity in the cities, and the creation of no-go zones that closely resemble the 750 French zones sensibles, where the police, fire brigades and other social services are barred entry by threats of violence or dangerous attacks.
Gatestone author Soeren Kern, in a discussion of no-go zones in Europe, describes the situation in Sweden:
In Sweden, which has some of the most liberal immigration laws in Europe, large swaths of the southern city of Malmö – which is more than 25% Muslim – are "no-go" zones for non-Muslims. Fire and emergency workers, for example, refuse to enter Malmö's mostly Muslim Rosengaard district without police escorts. The male unemployment rate in Rosengaard is estimated to be above 80%.
In the Swedish city of Gothenburg, Muslim youth have been hurling petrol bombs at police cars. In the city's Angered district, where more than 15 police cars have been destroyed, teenagers have also been pointing green lasers at the eyes of police officers, some of whom have been temporarily blinded.
According to the Malmö-based Imam Adly Abu Hajar: "Sweden is the best Islamic state."
An inevitable consequence of this impunity for Muslim radicals has been the rapid growth of anti-Semitism in cities such as Malmö. As far back as 2003-4, a U.S. government report indicated that Sweden was already suffering from a growth in anti-Semitic incidents, many in Malmö.
Another important 2005 report on anti-Semitism in Sweden by the Living History Forum and the National Council for Crime Prevention stated that: "[A]ntisemitic images and ambivalent attitudes towards Jews are comparatively more prevalent amongst Muslims than amongst Christians and non-religious groups. Amongst adults, 39 per cent of those who say they are Muslims harbour systematic antisemitic views compared to 5 per cent in total."
This conclusion explains the curious discrepancy in the ADL 2014 Global 100 Report on anti-Semitism, in which Sweden has one of the lowest rates of anti-Semitism in the world, at 4% (higher only than the Philippines at 3% and Laos at 0.2%). The 4% figure for Sweden is also close to figures for Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
The reason for this imbalance between perceptions of growing antisemitism and a world-class record of its absence is that the ADL did not record Muslim attitudes in any Western European country. The earlier 39% (which may be larger now) may be a better indicator of how things actually are on the ground in Sweden.
The situation is, of course, at its worst in cities such as Malmö and Gothenburg, and parts of Stockholm. In 2010, the Skånska Dagbladet reported that attacks on Jews in Malmö reached 79 in 2009, twice the rate for 2008. In that same year, the Simon Wiesenthal Center warned Jews visiting Sweden to exercise "extreme caution" in the south, mainly because of physical attacks in Malmö.
Daniel Radomski, chairman of the Zionist Federation of Sweden, is in no doubt as to the source of most current anti-Semitism in the country: "The recent rise in anti-Semitic activity in Sweden originates directly from the Arab and Muslim communities."
A Swedish Holocaust survivor, Judith Popinski, echoes this sentiment: "This new hatred comes from Muslim immigrants....The hatreds of the Middle East have come to Malmo. Schools in Muslim areas of the city simply won't invite Holocaust survivors to speak any more."
Nowadays, classic Islamic distrust of and contempt for Jews merges tightly with political issues; and here is where seemingly isolated occurrences have consequences for national policy. Radomski skewers this in a few well-chosen sentences: "Most crucially and discouragingly," he writes, "the current political climate in Sweden is a key enabler for the rise of anti-Semitic attacks. This is Swedish Jewry's real clear and present danger; a fatal combination of political correctness, self-righteousness and obliviousness, as leading politicians and opinion makers participate in or blatantly ignore the correlation between a disproportionate demonization of Israel that frequently crosses the line into anti-Semitism. This has created a climate where it is acceptable and encouraged to support calls for Israel's destruction, deliberately ignoring the effect such support has as a vehicle for the rise in Swedish anti-Semitism."
Former mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, a ruling Social Democrat party politician (now an adviser to the party's executive committee) gained notoriety when he blamed anti-Jewish violence on the Jews. In a 2010 interview with the Skånska Dagbladet, he said: "I would wish for the Jewish community to denounce Israeli violations against the civilian population in Gaza. Instead it decides to hold a [pro-Israeli] demonstration in the Grand Square [of Malmö], which could send the wrong signals."
The pro-Israel demonstration referred to was a pro-peace march that was attacked by a violent counter-demonstration, yet Reepalu could only blame the Jews. Worse still, on speaking to the British Sunday Telegraph, also in 2010, he even denied that there had been any attacks on Jews in Malmö: "There haven't been any attacks on Jewish people, and if Jews from the city want to move to Israel that is not a matter for Malmö."
Reepalu is not considered an anti-Semite, but his remarks unintentionally identify the reality that in Sweden, as elsewhere, there is a real conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Jews, Reepalu has said, can only look for protection from violence if they "distance themselves from Israel".
Swedish Muslim hatred of Israel and Jews thus found a perfect vehicle for expressing the very things that, under other circumstances, might have brought that hatred hard against a brick wall of national tolerance. That wall would have been built from the bricks of Swedish liberal values, the widespread absence of anti-Semitism among native Swedes (the stunning 4%), the country's long-standing sense of individual and communal democracy, concern for the downtrodden, moral conscience, moderate socialism, and commitment to human rights. In a sane world, all these things would lead to strong support for Jews under attack and sympathy for a Jewish state beleaguered from all sides by Islamist forces, from Hamas to Hizbullah to Islamic State.
In Sweden now, anti-Semitism dressed as anti-Israelism is widespread, not least among sections of the political class:
"Members of Parliament have attended anti-Israel rallies where the Israeli flag was burned while the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah were waved, and the rhetoric was often anti-Semitic—not just anti-Israel. But such public rhetoric is not branded hateful and denounced, said Henrik Bachner, a writer and professor of history at the University of Lund, near Malmo."
Sweden's governments have done many good things for their people. They have created a healthy and balanced economy and a sound social framework. But, as in so many places across Europe, political openness to diversity, with an emphasis on national culture, has given way to waves of political correctness and multicultural denial.
Many politicians and members of the public have come to see the Palestinians as the world's underdogs, who, however ugly their behaviour, can do no wrong; and to portray Israel as a Nazi state that persecutes the Palestinians and "steals" the land -- mystifyingly -- of a people, the Jews, who have lived on that land for roughly 4,000 years.
A country that freely and rightly gives asylum to people persecuted under oppressive regimes (such as the thousands of Iranians who fled there after the 1979 revolution) can fall too easily for the distorted and manufactured Palestinian narrative. Why else would an MP from the ruling Social Democrat party entertain even for a moment the conspiracy theory that Israel's Mossad has been training Islamic State fighters? Adrian Kaba made this very accusation this month. He has since apologized and recognized that he was wrong -- but a member of parliament who suffers from such delusions presumably does so because the political culture within which he operates encourages bizarre beliefs about Israel, and probably also Jews, to begin with.
Offering recognition to a "Palestinian State" only serves to give the Palestinians false hopes of achieving their ambition of wiping Israel off the map, literally -- it already started this process long ago by erasing Israel from all its maps -- and permanently upending the consensus of how international affairs are run.
The Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] in Lebanon, Ann Dismorr, poses with a map devoid of any trace of the State of Israel, instead presenting it as a map of "Palestine," May, 2013. (Image source: Palestinian Media Watch)