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Kristallnacht observance in Sweden: Jews not invited

The Jewish community of Sweden was not invited to the annual anti-Nazi event commemorating Kristallnacht last week in Umea, Sweden. According to the Swedish newspaper Norrkopings Tidnigar, organizers of “Umea against Nazism” advised Jews to stay away out of security concerns.

At past commemorations, strident anti-Semitic and anti-Israel protests raged in Umea, the biggest city in Norrland and 12th largest in the country. But the stated reasons for Jewish exclusion, officially intended to keep the Jews out of harm’s way, sound less than credible upon closer inspection.

It’s no secret that Sweden is pro-Palestinian. Kafiyas and signs equating Israel with Hitler’s Germany are commonplace. Some Swedish Jews are afraid to openly wear a Star of David or kipah outside of services. Increasing national support for the Sweden Democrats party, deeply rooted in Nazi ideology and racism, is far from soothing.

However, in spite of these concerns, Swedish Jewry is remarkably resilient. Like many American Jews, they identify with their country first and religion second.

So what’s really going on in Umea, a bucolic college town that is home to some 80,000 residents and 36,000 students? The latter demographic might provide a clue. College students, both here and in the EU, favor the Palestinians.

Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, signalled the beginning of the Holocaust. Who in their right ethical mind would warn Jewish people to stay away from a commemoration of Kristallnacht?

“How much clearer can the anti-Semitism of the left be?” one Facebook commentator wrote.

Not to include Jews for a Kristallnacht memorial is like including only whites to the 50th anniversary of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

Umea officials did invite the Jewish community to rallies in order to protest their exclusion. The municipal government’s chairman initiated a special ceremony. But Anders Agren of the Moderate Party put it more bluntly: “This exclusion was typical for Umea; I am ashamed.”

Sweden regards itself as a moral superpower. For a long time, it was. That supremacy is now in question. Let Sweden repair its moral compass before it is too late.

Copyright © 2015 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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