During the discussion that followed the speech of Sweden’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, at the meeting of the EU member States' Foreign Affairs Committees, in Visby, Sweden, MP Fiamma Nirenstein, Vice-President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, asked the Minister to clarify his program for combating anti-Semitism in Europe.
Anti-Semitism is dramatically increasing, as shown by the 2009 report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The study, which examined the trend from 2001 to 2008, has, in fact, demonstrated the rise of anti-Semitism throughout Europe, and throughout Northern European countries as well. It is a phenomenon which can partly be explained as a consequence of the increasing tensions in the Middle East and as result of the recent global economic crisis.
Among the most significant episodes as of late, MP Nirenstein cited to Minister Bildt the article on the IDF killing Palestinians in order to traffic in their organs, published this August by the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, a report that the Swedish government refused to condemn.
MP Nirenstein said that the fight against anti-Semitism is an essential priority in the continent where the Shoah was perpetrated; she also emphasized that as contemporary anti-Semitism feeds on radical, anti-Israel prejudices, the moral clarity of Europe, and moreover its authoritativeness, cannot but reaffirm its priority.
Minister Bildt, in his response, totally ignored the demand of a clear commitment against anti-Semitism, denied the attested growth of this phenomenon in Sweden, and said he felt the need to protest against a presumed "attempt of some countries to dictate to Sweden the content of its own newspapers, which is against the principle of free speech." Nirenstein declared: "I'm stunned that Bildt, after the authentic blood libel of the Swedish newspaper, ignored the occasion to firmly condemn anti-Semitism. A condemnation that Sweden refused to express numerous times in these days"; a condemnation, she asserted, that "has nothing to do with limitations of free speech."
Visby, Sweden, 7 September 2009
Hon. Fiamma Nirenstein
Vice-president Committee on Foreign Affairs, Italian Chamber of Deputies